Psaki: Pelosi kissing Biden on cheek does not meet CDC's 'bar' of 'close contact' for COVID transmission

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, kissing President Biden on the cheek and holding his hand did not meet the White House’s definition of “close contact.”

“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?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Psaki on Thursday. 

President Joe Biden kisses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., during an Affordable Care Act event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. At left is House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and right is Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa. Pelosi has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic, her spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet Thursday, April 7.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“Their definition of it is 15 minutes of contact within a set period of time, within six feet,” Psaki responded, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of “close contact.” “It did not meet that bar.”

A spokesperson for Pelosi announced Thursday that the San Francisco Democrat tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday after being spotted embracing Biden and kissing him on the cheek during an Affordable Care Act event in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden speaks at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, Monday, March 14, 2022, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Psaki was widely mocked by conservatives on social media who slammed her for seemingly implying the 79-year-old Biden was not at risk to contract the coronavirus because he was not standing within six feet of Pelosi for 15 minutes.

“So basically Jen Psaki’s argument in this briefing is that if a person with COVID sneezed directly on Joe Biden, he wouldn’t be a ‘close contact’ because the sneeze lasted less than 15 minutes,” Heritage Foundation Communications Director John Cooper tweeted.

“Psaki defending this cites the CDC’s guidance of ‘15 minutes,’” GOP spokesperson Matt Whitlock tweeted. “Two highly vulnerable geriatrics can kiss each-other on the face and it’s not a ‘close contact’ but they’re still putting masks on children outside in New York?”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stands as she welcomes Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore for talks at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News Digital as to whether individuals kissing on the cheek constitutes close contact that would instill concern about spreading the coronavirus.

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