Psaki tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Biden trip to Brussels

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki briefs reporters on President Biden’s phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other matters relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 on Thursday, March 18, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, though she said she is not considered a close contact of President Biden.

“Today, in preparation for travel to Europe, I took a PCR test this morning. That test came back positive, which means I will be adhering to [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] guidance and no longer be traveling on the President’s trip to Europe,” Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said she met twice with Biden on Monday, but both interactions were socially distanced and she is not considered a close contact. The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected individual for more than 15 minutes.

Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Psaki said.

“Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms. In alignment with White House COVID-19 protocols, I will work from home and plan to return to work in person at the conclusion of a five-day isolation period and a negative test,” Psaki said.

Psaki previously tested positive for COVID-19 in October ahead of Biden’s trip to Europe for a climate summit. 

Her positive test came one day before Biden is set to leave for Brussels to attend meetings with NATO and European allies to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will travel to Brussels and Poland with Biden in Psaki’s place and speak with reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday.

It also follows a string of high-profile positive tests among individuals in Biden’s orbit. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff tested positive for the virus last week, though Vice President Harris has tested negative since, and he was not considered a close contact of the president.

The prime minister of Ireland also tested positive for the virus last Wednesday after he spoke with Biden for less than 15 minutes and attended a gala ahead of St. Patrick’s Day where he was seated next to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The White House no longer requires individuals to wear masks, in accordance with CDC and Washington, D.C., guidelines.

Updated at 7:10 p.m.

Tags Doug Emhoff Jen Psaki Joe Biden Karine Jean-Pierre Nancy Pelosi
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