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Nancy Pelosi tests positive for Covid but is asymptomatic

Just hours after Pelosi's announcement, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she had also contracted the virus.

WASHINGTON — Nancy Pelosi, 82, the speaker of the House, has tested positive for Covid but is asymptomatic, her spokesman said Thursday.

"After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for Covid-19 and is currently asymptomatic. The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided," spokesman Drew Hammill said of Pelosi, D-Calif., in a pair of tweets.

"The Speaker will quarantine consistent with CDC guidance, and encourages everyone to get vaccinated, boosted and test regularly," Hammill said.

Pelosi was onstage Tuesday with President Joe Biden at an event at the White House and was with the president at a bill signing ceremony Wednesday night.

The White House said Thursday that Biden "is not considered a close contact" of Pelosi's, according to guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The president saw Speaker Pelosi at White House events and had brief interactions over the course of the last two days," the White House said in a statement. "Last night as a part of his regular testing cadence, the president tested negative. He will continue to be tested regularly. The president wishes Speaker Pelosi a speedy recovery."

The White House has been following the CDC's guideline people who are within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes are close contacts.

Later in the day, Sen. Susan Collins' office announced that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, as well, and was experiencing "mild symptoms." Her office made the announcement hours after Collins, R-Maine, 69, was one of only three Republicans to vote in favor of Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination to the Supreme Court. Jackson was confirmed by a vote of 53-47.

Collins was wearing a mask when she voted, and she appeared to be the only GOP senator wearing one on the Senate floor. In a statement, her office said Collins "will isolate and work remotely in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

Also testing positive after having experienced mild symptoms was Valerie Biden Owens, the president's 76-year-old sister, her book publisher said.

"She is fully vaccinated and boosted, will isolate at home for five days following CDC recommendations," publisher Celadon Books said in a statement, adding that she tested positive Wednesday.

"She did not have close contact with the President or First Lady prior to her positive test," the statement said.

Owens' positive test comes days before the release of her book, "Growing Up Biden." She was scheduled to make an appearance at a bookstore in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to promote her memoir.

The publisher said she "anticipates returning to her book tour upon testing negative."

There have been no changes to the Covid protocols in the White House despite the rapid spread around Washington of BA.2, an even more transmissible new subvariant of the omicron variant of the virus, which is now the dominant strain in the U.S. 

Biden, who had a second Covid booster shot last week, has been attending large gatherings indoors without masks for several weeks, often embracing other attendees. He gave Pelosi a hug and a kiss on the cheek at an event Tuesday at the White House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who tested positive for Covid last month, said Tuesday that the White House has been following pandemic protocols that are more stringent than CDC recommendations.

Employees surrounding Biden are on a regular testing schedule, while others who meet with the president are tested on the days of their meetings, with most of those interactions being socially distanced, Psaki said.

“The president’s doctor will continue to determine if additional testing is needed on any given week, in light of various considerations,” Psaki said. “For example, because of the travel from a couple of weeks ago, he was tested, in addition to his regular cadence, after he came back.”

People meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill are also tested, Psaki added.

White House employees who test positive are required to isolate and are not allowed to return to work until they have tested negative, beyond the CDC's recommendation.

Several top administration officials have also tested positive for Covid this week, including Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, as well as a number of White House staffers, including the vice president's communications director.