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Kamala Harris tests positive for Covid

Harris has not been a close contact of President Joe Biden or the first lady.
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WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for Covid on Tuesday, her office said.

At the time of the test result, Harris was not exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms, said her press secretary, Kirsten Allen. An adviser to the vice president later said Harris' physician prescribed the therapeutic drug Paxlovid, a Covid antiviral pill from Pfizer that has been cleared for use in people at high risk for developing severe illness.

Advisers have not said whether Harris, 57, is now exhibiting symptoms.

The vice president will isolate while she continues to work from her residence, Allen said. She will return to the White House once she has received a negative test, Allen added.

Harris, who has been vaccinated, has not been in close contact with President Joe Biden or first lady Jill Biden since April 18, during the White House Easter Egg Roll event.

Multiple aides said the vice president tested positive for Covid shortly before she was due to join Biden for the intelligence review session of the President’s Daily Brief.

Harris went to the White House, where she was tested using both the rapid antigen and the PCR methods, and left before the meeting without seeing Biden, aides said. Everyone in direct contact with the president is tested before they meet with him, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

After she was with the president and the first lady for the Easter Egg Roll last week, Harris traveled to California for several days and returned to Washington on Monday evening.

She is the highest-ranking official in the Biden administration to have tested positive for the coronavirus after a string of infections over the past several weeks. A new omicron subvariant has led to upticks in cases in certain parts of the country.

"We have a very, very contagious variant out there. It is going to be hard to ensure that no one gets Covid in America. That’s not even a policy goal," the White House Covid coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said Tuesday. "The goal of our policy should be, obviously, minimize infections whenever possible but to make sure people don’t get seriously ill."

Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were among the dozens of attendees at the annual Gridiron Dinner who tested positive for Covid this month. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, 57, had Covid in March.

Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also tested positive Tuesday. With Democrats holding a razor-thin margin in the Senate and Harris holding the tiebreaking vote, any nominees Democrats had planned to vote on this week could be in jeopardy.

Biden, 79, tested negative for Covid on Monday, Psaki said. White House officials have warned that Biden could get Covid at some point.

“It is possible that the president, like any other American, could get Covid,” Jha said Tuesday. “The bottom line is he is vaccinated and boosted. He is very well protected. He’s got very good protocols around him to protect him from getting infected. But there is no 100 percent anything.”

Harris received her first Covid booster shot in October and her second on April 1.

Psaki said that there would be no changes to White House Covid protocols following Harris' positive test and that Biden will continue to travel and attend large indoor events.