White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki went head-to-head with Fox News‘ Peter Doocy once again on Friday as she insisted President Joe Biden wasn’t trying to use his stature to help his sick friend secure a spot at a crowded hospital, as the president claimed he did yesterday.
The Fox News reporter asked Psaki how often Biden makes cold calls to ‘help his friends cut the line.’
Psaki countered him and said the president was simply ‘checking in on a friend.’
At her daily White House news briefing, Doocy recounted an anecdote Biden told during his trip to Illinois in which he described calling a ‘backed up’ hospital to ask why his friend’s wife couldn’t get a hospital bed despite a high fever and having trouble breathing.
‘What happened next?’ Doocy asked.
Before Psaki answered she insisted on providing ‘context’ to the 78-year-old leader’s speech.
‘The context of why the president told this story, which I think is important, and I promise I’ll answer your question, is that he was expressing that hospitals, frontline workers – nurses, doctors in emergency rooms – are still seeing and feeling the impact of the number of people who are unvaccinated,’ she said.
Fox News’ Peter Doocy sparred with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at yet another press briefing on Friday
She pointed out that the number of unvaccinated COVID sufferers still filling hospitals is straining the health care system and taking up resources that people suffering from other illnesses also need.
But Psaki declined to provide specific updates on the woman’s condition over privacy concerns.
‘How often does President Biden call around trying to help his friends cut the line?’ Doocy asked.
The White House official denied her sparring partner’s characterization of events.
‘That certainly was not his intention, he was not trying to do that, he was checking in on a friend,’ Psaki insisted.
She was asked whether the hospital in question was experiencing staffing shortages, like others around the country who had to part ways with staff unwilling to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
‘I would love for you to count for me where that is the issue over more so than the number of unvaccinated who are filling emergency rooms, filling ICU beds, that is the problem in hospitals across the country,’ Psaki snapped.
Biden spoke at a suburban Illinois construction site to promote vaccine mandates for private businesses. During the speech he admitted to personally calling a hospital desk to check in on why a friend’s wife was having trouble being seen at a hospital emergency room in PA
Yesterday Biden delivered remarks from a suburban Illinois construction site to promote vaccine mandates for private businesses.
During his speech the president admitted that he personally called a hospital desk on Wednesday night to see what was going on when a friend’s wife could not be seen at a Pennsylvania hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Biden said his friend’s ‘significant other’ had fallen ill, with difficulty breathing and a high fever. Biden said his friend called him after he’d rushed her to the hospital, where the emergency room told her she couldn’t be seen because ‘things were so crowded, so backed up.’
‘I called the desk, received the nurse and asked what the situation was,’ the president said in remarks on coronavirus vaccine requirements.
While the rate of new COVID-19 cases has slowed down in the US, hospital systems in largely unvaccinated areas are still being strained by infections
COVID-19 vaccinations have gone up somewhat as Biden declared a sweeping vaccine order affecting more than 100 million American workers
He told the story to illustrate the strain healthcare systems around the country are under, largely because of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
But he was careful not to fault hospital staff.
‘I wasn’t complaining,’ Biden said at the Elk Grove Village, Illinois site.
‘Doctors and nurses, some of them are just, they’re running dry. I really mean it. They’re getting the living hell kicked out of them—sometimes physically.’
Biden did not reveal whether his call had helped get his friend’s significant other to be seen by a doctor, or any other details about the story.
He then got back to touting his vaccine mandates, where all military and government workers are required to get the jab and businesses with over 100 employees must require vaccination or a weekly COVID-19 test.
‘My message is: Require your employees to get vaccinated,’ he said.
US COVID-19 infections have slowed after a summer surge that was fueled by the highly-contagious Delta variant. Still, healthcare systems in largely unvaccinated areas are still being strained by new COVID patients.