‘Mid-Level Staff Member’ With Close Contact To Biden Tests Positive For COVID-19

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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A “mid-level staff member” who was on Air Force One with President Joe Biden on Friday tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“On Monday morning, a mid-level staff member, who does not regularly have contact with the President, received a positive result for a COVID-19 test,” Psaki said. “Three days earlier, on Friday, that staff member had spent approximately 30 minutes in proximity to the President on Air Force One, on the way from Orange, South Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This staff member is fully vaccinated and boosted, and tested negative prior to boarding Air Force One, as is required for everyone traveling with the President. This staff member did not begin to experience symptoms until Sunday, and was tested on Monday.”

Biden tested negative after the White House was made aware of the staffer’s positive test. The president will be tested again on Wednesday, according to Psaki, who wrote that Biden’s daily schedule remains intact due to guidance laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for fully vaccinated individuals.

The CDC notes that fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine after being exposed to a COVID-positive person, unless symptoms appear.

Psaki’s announcement follows questions about potential outbreaks at the White House and various agencies during Monday afternoon’s press briefing. One reporter pointedly asked Psaki whether Biden had been in close contact with a COVID-positive person and needed to quarantine as a result. The press secretary wouldn’t say whether there have been outbreaks, pointing reporters to the specific agencies for additional information and noting that “breakthrough cases” are expected.

The president has a full-time staff and has not needed to be in quarantine. We talked about our commitment a few months ago about being transparent, about close contacts,” Psaki said. “I don’t have any updates for you at this point in time, but again, we expect there to be breakthrough cases across the country, right? And certainly in the federal government. And the most important thing to note for you and for others is that the 99% or more at this point of the White House staff is vaccinated, boosters are strongly recommended anddistributed. We have a very thorough process here that people abide by who are going to have close contact with the president and even beyond that, and those protocols go above and beyond CDC guidelines.”

In her statement just a few hours later, Psaki again referenced the administration’s “commitment” to transparency. She noted that a “close contact” to the president is determined by the White House Medical Unit.

“As we stated last summer, we believe it is in the public’s interest to know if any of the four principals (President, Vice President, First Lady, and Second Gentleman) are considered to have been in close contact with a White House official who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19 shortly after that contact,” Psaki said. (RELATED: Biden Warns That Unvaccinated Will Experience ‘A Winter Of Severe Illness And Death’)