Biden to skip eating portion of correspondents’ dinner to limit COVID risk
President Biden will take added precautions while at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this weekend amid concerns about exposure to COVID-19, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden feels the event is worth attending.
Biden may wear a mask when he is not delivering remarks at the annual event on Saturday, and he will not attend the dinner portion, Psaki said.
The president will arrive for the speaking program, during which the White House Correspondents’ Association will award scholarships and recognize journalists covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Comedian Trevor Noah is also slated to speak at the event at the Washington Hilton.
“He’s made the decision he wants to attend, in a safe way, the White House correspondents’ dinner to showcase his support for the free press, for the work of all of you, for the work of your colleagues around the world to not only share accurate information about COVID but also report on the war in Ukraine and all of the work that happens every single day,” Psaki said at a briefing.
“That does stand in stark contrast to his predecessor, who not only questioned the legitimacy of the press on a nearly daily basis, but also never attended the dinner, I don’t believe,” Psaki continued. “So, he felt that was important and made a risk assessment to do that in consultation with his doctors and health care team.”
The dinner, which did not take place in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic, is returning this year despite some lingering concerns about the potential for it to spread the virus as a contagious variant circulates around the country.
Guests are required to be vaccinated and must provide proof of a negative test to get into the event.
Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, told news outlets Wednesday that he had decided not to attend because of personal concerns about health and safety.
Biden’s attendance will mark a return to tradition after former President Trump declined to go to the event while in office amid a contentious relationship with the media, which he often derided as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”