Healthcare

17 people determined close contacts to Biden

In this image provided by the White House, President Joe Biden speaks with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on the phone from the Treaty Room in the residence of the White House Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Washington. Biden says he’s “doing great” after testing positive for COVID-19. The White House said Biden is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” including a stuffy nose, fatigue and cough. He’s taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug designed to reduce the severity of the disease. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

Seventeen people were identified as close contacts to President Biden, who has tested positive for COVID-19, including senior staff members and members of Congress.  

No senior staff have tested positive for COVID-19 but they are all taking precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, no members of Congress and no members of the press have tested positive.

“None of the staff members have tested positive to date. And all of them are wearing masks around other people,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday. 

When asked if anyone else who is considered a close contact has tested positive, Jean-Pierre said, “our protocol is to only share if someone has had close contact to the president.”

On Wednesday, Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey (D) and Elizabeth Warren (D) and Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D) and Bill Keating (D) traveled with Biden on Air Force One for the trip to Somerset, Mass.

The results come after the White House medical unit went through the process of figuring out who were close contacts between Biden’s positive test on Thursday morning and Friday afternoon. 

White House officials said on Thursday that First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Harris were already considered close contacts to Biden. 

Harris spoke at a conference in D.C. on Friday and White House COVID-19 Coordinator Ashish Jha was questioned about her not always wearing a mask during the event and for hugging someone at it.

“My understanding is that the vice president is following CDC guidelines,” Jha said. When reporters pushed back, Jha said he couldn’t comment because he hadn’t seen the footage of Harris. 

The White House maintains its protocol is that to be considered close contact, a person must be within six feet of another for a period of longer than 15 minutes, citing guidance from the CDC

Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms have “improved,” but he ran a 99.4 degree temperature on Thursday evening, his physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memorandum Friday. His temperature has returned to normal after Biden took Tylenol and the president continues to experience a runny nose, fatigue and an occasional cough. 

Tags Ashish Jha Ashish Jha Biden positive test Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC Congress COVID-19 COVID-19 Ed Markey Jill Biden Jill Biden Joe Biden Kamala Harris Karine Jean-Pierre Karine Jean-Pierre Kevin O'Connor Massachusetts
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