Last week it was revealed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tested positive for COVID-19, despite her triple vaccination status. It was made immediately clear in the media that Pelosi had just had contact with President Joe Biden in the days prior, even kissing him on the cheek at one event.
However, the media and the White House went into full protection mode, insisting that Pelosi’s kiss did not amount to “close contact” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That claim was widely disputed in the following days, especially by Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, The Hill reports.
During an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, Gottlieb explained that it’s no wonder the CDC has a messaging problem, as Pelosi both hugging and kissing Biden, by logical standards, is considered “close contact” for anyone else.
“That’s the problem with the CDC guidance. The CDC guidance was always bizarre. It talked about 15 cumulative minutes as if this is radiation exposure, that you have increased risk from cumulative exposure. This is binary. You either catch it or you don’t.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed on the situation in the following days, including questions from Fox News’ Peter Doocy, who asked her to explain to the public how hugging and kissing someone is not “close contact.”
Doocy: “How can you guys say that President Biden was not a close contact with speaker Pelosi when there’s video of the speaker kissing him?”
Psaki: The CDC’s “definition of it is 15 minutes of contact within a set period of time, within six feet. It did not meet that bar.” pic.twitter.com/T7U8kE5EoR
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) April 7, 2022
Gottlieb’s common-sense argument is that a hug or a kiss undoubtedly supersedes the “contact for 15 minutes rule.”
“With respect to the president, I hope he does well and doesn’t catch it. I do think he’s probably out of the woods from his exposure to the Speaker of the House, but saying that that wasn’t close contact where we have pictures of him hugging the Speaker, that clearly was close contact,” the former FDA chief said, pleading with the government to be much clearer on the rules.
Many on social media pondered what the reaction would have been had it been a Republican House leader with COVID-19 hugging and kissing a Republican president.