President Biden was in close contact with a White House official who later tested positive for the coronavirus, the administration said on Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the president came in contact with the officer aboard Air Force One on Friday, spending about 30 minutes near the man during a trip from South Carolina to Pennsylvania. The officer, who was vaccinated and received a booster shot, started experiencing symptoms two days later and tested positive on Monday morning.
“The president is tested on a regular basis. As part of that routine test, the president received an antigen test on Sunday, and tested negative,” Ms. Psaki said. “This morning, after receiving information about the employee testing positive, the President received a PCR test and tested negative.” He said Mr Biden would be tested again on Wednesday, and as a fully vaccinated man, he was not required to quarantine after exposure.
Administration officials acknowledge that as the highly contagious Omicron variant has increased, cases have emerged in and around the White House, including the National Security Council, the State Department and other agencies. At least one person who visited Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken, tested positive, causing Mr Blinken to shorten his visit.
Ms Psaki said everyone working in the administration was encouraged to get a booster shot and that “99 percent” of White House staff had already got one.
Still, a memo sent to White House staff on Monday afternoon provided a link to prescribing Pfizer’s dosage and made a plea: “The best way to protect yourself and others is to be fully vaccinated and as soon as you can.” are eligible, have to get the booster.”
Elsewhere in the administration, agencies are planning to require officers to return to office. A memo sent Friday to Commerce Department staff from the deputy secretary, Don Graves, outlined plans to begin a “staggered approach to withdrawal” beginning in January.