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Biden tests negative for Covid after having close contact with aide who contracted virus

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the latest developments related to the Omicron variant in the Roosevelt Room in the White House in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2021.
Evelyn Hockstein | Rueters

President Joe Biden tested negative for Covid on Monday, days after he was in close contact with an aide who would eventually test positive for the virus, the White House said.

He will be tested again Wednesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said in a release.

Biden, who turned 79 in November, is the oldest man ever elected to the presidency. He is in good health, his doctor said in a recent report. The president is also fully vaccinated and boosted.

“As CDC guidance does not require fully vaccinated people to quarantine after an exposure, the President will continue with his daily schedule,” Psaki said.

The White House announcement came soon after new data revealed that the highly transmissible omicron variant of Covid had become the most dominant strain of the virus. People who are vaccinated and boosted are generally protected against severe illness if they contract omicron, according to research.

The aide, whom Psaki described as a “mid-level staffer,” received a positive test result Monday morning. On Friday, this person spent about 30 minutes near the president on Air Force One on the way from South Carolina to Philadelphia, according to Psaki.

The person, who is vaccinated and boosted, had tested negative for Covid ahead of the Air Force One flight and did not experience symptoms until Sunday, she added.

Biden received an antigen test Sunday as part of his testing regimen, Psaki said, adding that he tested negative then, too.

Read the full release from the White House:

As we stated last summer, we believe it is in the public’s interest to know if any of the four principals (President, Vice President, First Lady, and Second Gentleman) are considered to have been in close contact with a White House official who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19 shortly after that contact. The criteria for what is considered a “close contact” with the principals is determined by the White House Medical Unit, in line with CDC guidance.

On Monday morning, a mid-level staff member, who does not regularly have contact with the President, received a positive result for a COVID-19 test. Three days earlier, on Friday, that staff member had spent approximately 30 minutes in proximity to the President on Air Force One, on the way from Orange, South Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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. This staff member did not begin to experience symptoms until Sunday, and was tested on Monday.

Others on Air Force One who were in close contact with this staff member are being contacted and will be advised to get tested per CDC guidance.

The President is tested on a regular basis. As part of that regular testing, the President received an antigen test Sunday, and tested negative.

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.

As CDC guidance does not require fully vaccinated people to quarantine after an exposure, the President will continue with his daily schedule.

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