Biden’s COVID-19 testing regimen won’t change ahead of Europe trip

President Joe Biden
AP/Patrick Semansky

The White House is not increasing the frequency of COVID-19 testing for President Biden ahead of his trip to Europe next week despite a flurry of positive tests from people who were near the president but not considered close contacts.

“We have continued to take the same testing protocol steps, which are significant and go farther than [Centers for Disease Control (CDC)] guidance goes, but beyond that his testing cadence remains the same, and there haven’t been additional changes to our internal protocols,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Thursday.

Psaki was asked multiple times about Biden’s testing regimen after second gentleman Doug Emhoff tested positive for the virus on Tuesday and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin tested positive late Wednesday.

Emhoff is the spouse of Vice President Harris, who stood next to Biden during a bill signing on Tuesday before Emhoff’s positive test was announced. And Biden spoke briefly with Martin on Wednesday night at a gala for St. Patrick’s Day shortly before Martin’s diagnosis was revealed.

The White House said neither individual was considered a close contact, nor were the handful of House Democrats who tested positive after attending a retreat last week where Biden spoke. The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected individual for more than 15 minutes.

As a result, Biden does not have to isolate. He was last tested on Sunday, when he tested negative, Psaki said. Biden is scheduled to travel to Brussels next week for a meeting with European allies.

The White House has been easing back to normal in recent weeks after the CDC lifted its mask recommendation for most Americans, holding larger in-person events and generally going maskless.

Psaki said the White House has taken some extra precautions, including testing those who are around the president.

“He is the president of the United States, so we do take those additional steps,” she said. “And we of course abide by what the recommendations and advice are of his medical doctor. And if that would be to do increased testing, we would certainly do that. But he does not feel that is necessary at this point in time based on these recent contacts.”

Tags Doug Emhoff Jen Psaki Joe Biden
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