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White House: Biden tests negative after close contact with staffer who contracted Covid

Biden is scheduled to give remarks Tuesday about the administration's plan to fight the pandemic this winter.
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, S.C., on Dec. 17, 2021.
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, S.C., on Friday.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has tested negative after he came into contact with a White House staff member last week who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

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

"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 he found out about the aide's positive test, Biden has had 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 is 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 because he has been fully vaccinated. Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks Tuesday afternoon about the administration's plans to fight the pandemic this winter.

The omicron variant has overtaken the delta variant as the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S. when new cases are measured. As of Friday, more than 73 percent of new cases in the country had been caused by the omicron variant, according to CDC data posted Monday.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., said over the weekend that they had tested positive in breakthrough cases. Both senators said they have been vaccinated and had booster shots.