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Jen Psaki insists Biden’s vaccine mandate will not lead to staff shortages


White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday insisted President Joe Biden‘s COVID vaccine mandate would not lead to staffing shortages as she returned to the briefing room 13 days after she tested positive for COVID.  

The Labor Department announced Friday that a record 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, or about 3 per cent of the nation’s workforce. 

Psaki downplayed a question from DailyMail.com as to whether that number might increase if workers quit rather than get their COVID vaccine – a federal mandate that will go in place in January.

She argued that many companies that have already implemented a mandatory vaccine policy – such as McDonald’s, GE, Google, and United Airlines – haven’t seen workers leave their jobs.  

‘That hasn’t been what we’ve seen in the vast majority of companies who have implemented vaccine mandates and as you know, that deadline hasn’t come up for where it would be required,’ she noted.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki marked her return to the press briefing room on Friday, 13 days since she tested positive for COVID-19

What's more, according to the report, the were 10.4 million job openings as of the last day of September, down from 10.6 million in August

What’s more, according to the report, the were 10.4 million job openings as of the last day of September, down from 10.6 million in August

A report from the US Department of Labor Friday revealed that 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, about 3 percent of the nation's workforce. That's up from 4.3 million in August and far above the pre-pandemic level of 3.6 million

A report from the US Department of Labor Friday revealed that 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, about 3 percent of the nation’s workforce. That’s up from 4.3 million in August and far above the pre-pandemic level of 3.6 million

She also argued people will ‘feel safer going to their workplace’ once the vaccine mandate is in place. Biden’s executive order affects businesses with more than 100 employees starting January 4. 

‘They will also know that workers are less likely to get sick from COVID, which has been, you know, in a range of industries, an enormous issue and created a great deal of unpredictability across the board,’ she said.

Psaki also downplayed concerns about the record number of people who left their jobs in September, which was up from 4.3 million in August and far above the pre-pandemic level of 3.6 million.  

‘It’s a workers market,’ she said and added that companies ‘need to have a more competitive package to offer to workers.’

‘Many people across the country feel this is a good time to change jobs,’ she added. ‘What I’m saying is ultimately, that’s a good thing. It is challenging in certain industries.’

She said the COVID pandemic caused many people to change their jobs and switch careers, plus look for employment that has better benefits.  

‘Certainly we have concern about any industry that has a shortage of workers, but also I don’t think we should undervalue the fact that many workers feel this is a time to look for a better job with greater pay and more benefits,’ she noted.

Friday’s report follows last week’s jobs report, which showed that employers stepped up their hiring in October, adding 531,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, from 4.8 percent. 

Hiring, however, rebounded as the Delta variant, which had restrained job gains in August and September, faded.

It is typically perceived as a signal of worker confidence when people leave the jobs they hold. The vast majority of people quit for a new position.

Psaki was back in the briefing room on Friday following a bout with COVID-19. She tested positive for the disease on October 31 despite being vaccinated. She had skipped President Biden’s trip to Europe after a member of her household tested positive.

The White House press secretary, 42, said she followed a 10-day quarantine and tested negative for COVID on Thursday. She added her symptoms were mild, which she credited to being vaccinated.

And Psaki, who worked from home during her isolation, joked she missed her slippers. 

‘Let me say it’s great to be back with all of you. Although as a longtime hater of heels, I do miss my slippers,’ she said at the top of Friday’s press briefing. 

‘I was experienced a little bit of life fatigue in the first couple of days, but none that prevented me from participating in meetings here engaging with the president and the team on the road. And certainly, probably calling members of my team so many times they were tired of hearing from me,’ she said of her bout with the illness. 

Friday marked Psaki’s first press briefing since October 27. Her top deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, had been filling in for her while she recovered from the illness. 

When she announced her positive test for COVID-19, Psaki said she would return to the White House after a 10-day quarantine and a negative rapid test result. 

Psaki had dropped out of Biden’s trip to Europe for the G20 and COP26, citing a family emergency. She later revealed a positive COVID diagnosis. 

Jen Psaki will return to the White House briefing room on Friday, 13 days after revealing she had tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated - she is seen above at her last press briefing on October 27

Jen Psaki will return to the White House briefing room on Friday, 13 days after revealing she had tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated – she is seen above at her last press briefing on October 27

Psaki's top deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, had been filling in for her

Psaki’s top deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, had been filling in for her

On Sunday, October 31, as Biden was finishing up his his meetings with world leaders in Rome, Psaki announced she tested positive for COVID even after having two doses of the vaccine. 

She was the most visible and senior member of the Biden administration to have publicly announced she had tested positive.

‘While I have not had close contact in person with the president or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday – and tested negative for four days after that last contact – I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency,’ she said in a statement.  

‘I last saw the president on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks,’ she said.

She worked from home while recovering from the illness and said her symptoms were mild.

‘Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms which has enabled me to continue working from home,’ she said. 

‘I will plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of the ten day quarantine following a negative rapid test, which is an additional White House requirement, beyond CDC guidance, taken out of an abundance of caution,’ she noted at the time.

Biden tested negative for COVID on Sunday, the same day Psaki announced she was positive for the disease, as he prepared to depart Italy for the next leg of his five-day trip to Europe. 

Jean-Pierre said the PCR test was a routine test taken as part of entry requirements for attendance at the COP26 climate conference in Scotland, which Biden was traveling to after the G20 meeting in Rome. 

Jean-Pierre also said Psaki’s positive test had not had an impact on the rest of the White House.

‘Fortunately her symptoms are mild,’ she said. 

‘We can we cannot wait to have our her back, to have all of us back together safely and are sending the very best to Jen and her family,’ she added. 

Psaki is seen here with Jean-Pierre and other members of the press team at the White House

Psaki is seen here with Jean-Pierre and other members of the press team at the White House

Psaki issued on her COVID test result

Psaki issued on her COVID test result

Senior White House staff are vaccinated but regularly take COVID tests out of precaution and because of their proximity to the president. 

Biden is also vaccinated and got his booster shot on Sept 27, shortly after federal regulators approved the third dose for the elderly and those at high risk. 

A White House staffer traveling with Biden to Scotland for COP26 also tested positive for COVID and remained in that country to isolate. Travelers with Biden on his five-day trip to Rome and Scotland were tested daily.

Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday before his return to the States. A negative COVID test is required for re-entry into the U.S. after travel abroad. 

Break through COVID cases are rare but can happen. The White House discloses cases of anyone who has close contact with the president, first lady, vice president or second gentleman. 



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