President Joe Biden came into close contact with a White House staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 several days later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Monday. The staffer was in contact with Mr. Biden for about 30 minutes on Friday, during a flight from Orange, South Carolina to Philadelphia.
Psaki described the official as a “mid-level staff member” who doesn’t regularly have contact with Mr. Biden. The staff member is fully vaccinated, had received a booster shot and tested negative before boarding Air Force One. The official didn’t start to experience symptoms until Sunday, when they got the positive test result.
Mr. Biden took an antigen test on Sunday and was negative. After he was informed of the staff member’s positive test, the president took a PCR test on Monday and again tested negative. He was to take his next test on Wednesday. The CDC’s guidance doesn’t require fully vaccinated people to quarantine after an exposure to COVID-19, so the president was continuing with his daily schedule, Psaki said.
US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in West Columbia, South Carolina, December 17, 2021.
Psaki said others who were in close contact with the staff member on Air Force One were being contacted and advised to take a COVID-19 test, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
The president’s exposure occurred as the highly transmissible Omicron variant overtook the Delta variant as the most dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to new data released by the CDC on Monday. The variant now makes up more than 73% of new infections, a nearly six-fold increase compared to the week before.
Omicron makes up the highest share of new cases in the South, Central Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the New York area.
Max Bayer contributed to this report.
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