The White House Correspondents’ Association will require anyone attending its annual dinner to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The change comes after several prominent figures tested positive for the virus after attending a Gridiron Club dinner on April 2. A total of 630 people were at the event and an estimated 1 out of every 10 guests have contracted the virus.
This includes Maine Senator Susan Collins, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, California Congressman Adam Schiff, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director Jamal Simmons, and first lady Jill Biden’s spokesman Michael LaRosa.
Other attendees of the white-tie gala included Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
According to Axios, WHCA President Steve Portnoy wrote in an email, “Same-day testing has been our plan for months, and now we’re closing the loop by adding the vaccine requirement.”
“The board’s policy is aimed at preventing anyone who is known to be infectious (as indicated by a positive result on a rapid antigen test) from spreading the virus at the dinner,” he adds. “But nothing we implement to protect the ballroom can reach the many social events other organizers throw around our dinner. Bear that in mind.”
He urged members to get a booster shot this week ahead of the dinner to ensure “maximum protection.”
“There are risks attendant to everything we’ll do over the next few weeks,” Portnoy wrote. “Each of us should judge our respective risk thresholds before engaging in any of these activities.”
“While we’re working in conjunction with the White House on our testing protocols, the White House has not asked us to do this,” the WHCA president added. “We’re taking it upon ourselves as an association to apply this requirement.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki would not confirm if President Joe Biden would attend the Correspondents’ dinner during a media briefing on April 8.
“Some top DC Democrats tested positive this week despite not attending the dinner, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who tested positive Thursday after attending White House events with Biden on Tuesday and Wednesday,” reports The New York Post. “Biden kissed her on the cheek Tuesday and she stood behind his shoulder during a Wednesday bill-signing event.”
Event organizers are expecting 2,600 guests at the 2022 Correspondents’ dinner scheduled for April 30. The annual event was canceled in 2021 and 2020 because of the global pandemic.