Biden Was in Close Contact With Official Who Tested Positive for Covid

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Administration officials admit that arsenic the highly contagious Omicron variant has surged, a clump of cases person been reported crossed the administration.

President Biden spent astir  30 minutes connected  Friday adjacent   an authoritative  aboard Air Force One who aboriginal    tested affirmative  for Covid.
Credit...Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Katie Rogers

Dec. 20, 2021Updated 9:53 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Biden was successful adjacent interaction with a White House authoritative who aboriginal tested affirmative for the coronavirus, the medication said connected Monday.

The president spent astir 30 minutes adjacent the authoritative aboard Air Force One connected a travel from South Carolina to Pennsylvania connected Friday, Jen Psaki, the White House property secretary, said successful a statement. The official, who was vaccinated and had received a booster shot, began experiencing symptoms 2 days aboriginal and tested affirmative connected Monday morning.

“The president is tested connected a regular basis. As portion of that regular testing, the president received an antigen trial Sunday, and tested negative,” Ms. Psaki said. “This morning, aft being notified of the staffer’s affirmative test, the president received a P.C.R. trial and tested negative.”

The quality came arsenic medication officials acknowledged that arsenic the highly contagious Omicron variant has surged, a clump of cases person been reported successful and astir the White House, including astatine the National Security Council, the State Department, Treasury and different agencies. Mr. Biden, who is 79, volition present a code connected Tuesday that his advisers accidental is meant to stress that afloat vaccinated radical volition look acold less wellness risks from the microorganism and its variants than the unvaccinated.

“This is not a code astir locking the state down,” Ms. Psaki told reporters connected Monday. “This is simply a code outlining and being nonstop and wide with the American radical astir the benefits of being vaccinated, the steps we’re going to instrumentality to summation entree and to summation testing, and the risks posed to unvaccinated individuals.”

In her connection astir Mr. Biden’s vulnerability to the virus, Ms. Psaki added that helium would beryllium tested again connected Wednesday, and that arsenic a afloat vaccinated person, helium was not required to quarantine aft exposure. According to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, afloat vaccinated radical who person had close contact with idiosyncratic who has Covid should beryllium tested 5 to 7 days from the day of vulnerability and deterioration a disguise successful nationalist indoor settings for 2 weeks oregon until they person a antagonistic trial result.

Researchers inactive bash not know however apt Omicron is to origin terrible unwellness successful astir people, but its velocity has stunned nationalist wellness experts. With Omicron already the dominant signifier of the coronavirus in the United States, White House officials person tried to stress that breakthrough cases among the afloat vaccinated and boosted volition astir apt beryllium mild compared with infections the unvaccinated whitethorn face; but fixed the variant’s contagiousness, those cases could go much common.

Officials person besides said that determination is nary crushed to dainty this question similar the devastating 1 the United States faced successful outpouring 2020, but the microorganism is interfering with day-to-day functions successful the administration. At slightest 1 idiosyncratic — a writer who traveled with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Southeast Asia past week — tested positive, causing Mr. Blinken to chopped abbreviated his trip. Another White House official, who attended a Christmas enactment with journalists connected Tuesday, aboriginal tested positive. The medication has not disclosed the scope of infections successful the White House and astatine assorted agencies.

“I would conscionable enactment that we bash expect determination to beryllium breakthrough cases, arsenic determination are — arsenic determination volition beryllium — crossed government,” Ms. Psaki said connected Monday erstwhile asked to picture infections successful the administration.

Some national agencies are readying to necessitate employees to instrumentality to the office. A memo sent to Commerce Department employees connected Friday from Don Graves, the lawman secretary, outlined a program to commencement a “staggered attack to return” opening successful January. Ms. Psaki said connected Monday that everyone who worked successful the medication was encouraged to person a booster changeable and that “99 percent” of the White House unit had received one.

Still, a memo sent to the unit connected Monday day provided a nexus to docket a Pfizer dose and a plea: “The champion mode to support yourself and others is by being afloat vaccinated and receiving a booster arsenic soon arsenic you are eligible.” Both memos were obtained by The New York Times.

In his code connected Tuesday, Mr. Biden is expected to promote the nationalist to person a booster changeable arsenic soon arsenic they are eligible.

President Donald J. Trump, who for years falsely claimed that vaccines were dangerous and pointedly declined to beryllium seen receiving his coronavirus vaccine portion helium was successful office, told the Fox News big Bill O’Reilly connected Sunday that helium had received a booster.

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Their audience, astatine a speaking circuit halt successful Houston, began to boo, according to a video distributed by 1 of Mr. O’Reilly’s societal media accounts.

“Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,” Mr. Trump said, waving his limb to disregard the naysayers and downplaying the reaction.

Mr. Biden’s advisers person pointed retired that they person taken other precautions to support him harmless from exposure, including protocol that requires day-of investigating if an authoritative is to conscionable with him. Officials who spot the president each time are truthful tested each day, an medication authoritative said, speaking connected the information of anonymity to picture interior planning.

Mr. Trump, connected the different hand, eschewed astir precautions portion helium was successful office.

Azi Paybarah and Lauren McCarthy contributed reporting.

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