Biden to get another COVID-19 test after close contact with infected staffer

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Washington — President Biden will be tested for COVID-19 again Wednesday after he was in close contact with a White House official who tested positive for the virus after traveling with the president.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki disclosed earlier this week that a mid-level staff member received a positive COVID-19 test result Monday morning. The staffer had been in proximity to Mr. Biden aboard Air Force One for roughly 30 minutes on Friday when the president flew from Orange, South Carolina, to Philadelphia.

Psaki said the staff member, who began experiencing symptoms Sunday, is fully vaccinated and received a booster shot. The White House official tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding Air Force One. 

Mr. Biden received a negative antigen test Sunday and a negative PCR test Monday, according to the White House. Psaki told reporters Tuesday that the president will have a second PCR test Wednesday.

“The guidance of the CDC is: If you're a close contact, you should be tested five to seven days, five days and seven days post contact. We do three and five days post-contact here at the White House through PCR tests,” she said during the White House press briefing. “The president has had his three-day PCR test [Monday]. He will have his five-day PCR test tomorrow.”

Psaki said under White House protocols, staff who will travel with the president or meet in the Oval Office are required to be tested for COVID-19 that day. Those who may not be interacting with Mr. Biden must also adhere to regular testing procedures.

News of the president's potential exposure to COVID-19 comes as the nation experiences a surge of new infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which was first reported by health authorities in South Africa in late November. Omicron has since overtaken the Delta variant as the dominant strain in the U.S., making up at least 73% of new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The president on Tuesday announced new steps his administration is taking to mitigate the spread of the Omicron variant, including by distributing 500 million rapid at-home tests to Americans and standing up new federal testing sites to assist states that need additional capacity.

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