Administration

White House acknowledges Biden could get COVID, stresses he’s vaccinated

The White House on Friday acknowledged President Biden could get COVID-19 amid an uptick in positive cases surrounding the president but stressed he has taken steps to protect himself.

“We take every precaution to ensure that we keep him safe, we keep the vice president safe, the first lady, the second gentleman, our staff here. But it is certainly possible that he will test positive for COVID, and he is vaccinated, he is boosted and protected from the most severe strains of the virus,” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said.

Biden’s last COVID-19 test on Wednesday evening, part of his regular testing routine, came back negative.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tested positive for COVID-19 early Thursday after she was with Biden at the White House and at times in very close proximity on Wednesday.

The White House has dismissed concerns that Biden is at risk of catching the virus from Pelosi, arguing he was not considered a close contact of Pelosi’s as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because they spent less than 15 minutes in close proximity to each other.

“Look, certainly we have seen an increase in cases, we know that, the BA.2 variant is very transmissible. We are taking many, many precautions. We take precautions to ensure that the president is protected,” Bedingfield said.

The White House has been pressed about a Friday event celebrating the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, which has been compared to a celebration during the Trump administration of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation that turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event.

“But I do think it’s important to note that it is possible he will test positive for COVID at some point and we’re in a very different place than we were, for example, when they held that event for Justice Barrett, which is to say we have vaccines, we have treatments. The president is vaccinated and double boosted so, you know, protected from severe COVID,” Bedingfield added.

CNN anchor John Berman asked Bedingfield if that thinking represents a shift overall for the country and that Americans should live their lives normally even though they might contract COVID-19.

“I think that’s exactly right, the president is certainly living his life just as, as you say, all Americans across the country are. While taking precautions, while ensuring that we’re following CDC guidance, for example in an area of high transmission, you wear a mask. So there’s things you can do to be smart about it and to protect yourself,” she said.

Bedingfield attributed this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to the work by the Biden administration to vaccinate Americans and make COVID-19 treatments available.

“People are out living their lives and certainly the president of the United States is doing that too,” she said.

The event for Jackson on Friday will be held outside and also include Vice President Harris, whose communications director, Jamaal Simmons, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Harris tested negative on Thursday, and the White House said while Harris is considered a close contact in that case, she would go about her previously scheduled public appearances.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Biden Coronavirus COVID-19 Joe Biden Joe Biden Kate Bedingfield Ketanji Brown Jackson Nancy Pelosi

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