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Biden was masked during contact with aide who tested positive for Covid

The president has tested negative so far. Sources said the White House expects more cases in the coming days.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden walks from the White House to Marine One as he leaves for a visit to the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 2.Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden was wearing a mask when he came in contact last week with a White House aide who later tested positive for Covid, two people familiar with the matter said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday evening that Biden had tested negative after he was in proximity to the aide for about 30 minutes on Air Force One.

Biden took a rapid antigen test Sunday and a more accurate PCR test Monday after he was notified about the staffer’s positive test, and he tested negative both times.

The sources noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people be tested on the third and fifth days after possible exposure to Covid, which is why Biden was given a PCR test Monday and will get another one Wednesday.

The White House expects more cases at the complex in the coming days, the sources said, and staffers are adjusting to the fact that it will be the new reality for some time.

The White House doesn’t require staff to get booster shots, but it is periodically reminding West Wing aides to do so, including Monday in an email. Everyone who interacts with Biden is tested daily. Psaki declined to specify how often Biden is tested, other than to say “regularly.”

Biden, who turned 79 last month, is in an age group at high risk for severe illness from Covid, according to the CDC. Experts have repeatedly said getting three Covid shots dramatically reduces the risk of severe illness or hospitalization. Biden got his booster shot in late September.

Asked whether the White House had changed any protocols to deal with exposure risks, Psaki said Monday: “There hasn't been a change. Obviously, we will continue to consult with our health and medical experts if any changes need to be put into place.”

Biden announced several new steps the administration is taking to combat the spread of Covid-19 in an address Tuesday afternoon, seeking to reassure Americans that the expected holiday surge won't be a return to the devastating early days of the pandemic.