Biden tests negative after close contact with staffer who contracted Covid

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has tested negative after coming into contact with a White House staff member last week who tested positive for Covid on Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki announced in a statement.

The staff member “spent approximately 30 minutes in proximity” to Biden on Friday aboard Air Force One during a flight from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, said Psaki, adding that the aide is not in regular contact with the president.

“This staff member is fully vaccinated and boosted, and tested negative prior to boarding Air Force One, as is required for everyone traveling with the President,” she said. “This staff member did not begin to experience symptoms until Sunday, and was tested on Monday.”

Since finding out about the aide’s positive test, Biden received a PCR test that came back negative, the White House said.

“The President is tested on a regular basis. As part of that regular testing, the President received an antigen test Sunday, and tested negative,” Psaki said. “This morning, after being notified of the staffer’s positive test, the President received a PCR test and tested negative. He will be tested again on Wednesday.”

Biden, who turned 79 last month, is in an age group that’s more likely to get severely ill from Covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People over age 65 account for more than 81 percent of Covid deaths.

Former President Donald Trump, 75, tested positive for Covid in October 2020, before vaccines were available.

Psaki on Monday cited guidance from the CDC in saying Biden does not need to quarantine since he is fully vaccinated. The president is scheduled to deliver remarks Tuesday afternoon on his administration’s plans for fighting the coronavirus pandemic this winter.

The omicron variant has overtaken delta as the dominant coronavirus variant in the United States when measuring new cases. As of Friday, more than 73 percent of new cases in the country were caused by omicron, according to CDC data posted Monday.

News of the White House aide’s positive test comes on the heels of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., saying they tested positive in breakthrough cases. Both senators said they have been vaccinated and received booster shots.

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