An official who accompanied President Biden to a climate change conference in Scotland tested positive for COVID-19 and was left behind when Biden departed Glasgow this week, the White House said Thursday.
The unsettling news emerged after Biden, who turns 79 this month, remained out of public view Thursday — a day after he appeared tired and coughed repeatedly during a press conference.
“One member of the President’s traveling party tested positive through a lateral flow test on Tuesday for COVID-19, although additional tests to date have been inconclusive,” a White House official said in a statement provided to The Post.
“This individual did not have close contact with the President and is not exhibiting any symptoms. The person has remained in Scotland to complete the quarantine period with the support of the Administration.”
The official said that “CDC guidance advises that any vaccinated person who is in close contact should monitor for any symptoms and test 5-7 days after exposure, but does not need to change any behaviors if asymptomatic.”
He added that “out of an abundance of caution, the traveling team took steps beyond CDC protocols, including having a few staff members, who had close contact with the person who tested positive, travel separately from the President back to the United States. All close contacts tested negative via PCR upon arrival in the United States. Additionally, the President tested negative on Tuesday.”
Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs first reported the news on Twitter.
Jacobs reported that the aide had a positive rapid test result that has not yet been confirmed with a more accurate PCR test.
The report quickly gained notice in part because Jacobs also first-reported that former President Donald Trump’s close aide Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020 — shortly before Trump himself tested positive. The then-74-year-old president was hospitalized but recovered.
Biden received a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot in September, but his advanced age puts him at heightened health risks from the virus, which has caused hospitalizations and deaths even among fully vaccinated people.
The latest White House infection follows press secretary Jen Psaki’s positive diagnosis last week shortly before Biden departed for Europe. Jacobs reported that officials do not believe Psaki’s infection is related to the new case.
Psaki said Sunday: “On Wednesday … I made the decision not to travel on the foreign trip with the President due to a family emergency, which was members of my household testing positive for COVID-19. Since then, I have quarantined and tested negative (via PCR) for COVID on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. However, today, I tested positive for COVID.”
Psaki said “[w]hile I have not had close contact in person with the President or senior members of the White House staff since Wednesday – and tested negative for four days after that last contact — I am disclosing today’s positive test out of an abundance of transparency. I last saw the President on Tuesday, when we sat outside more than six-feet apart, and wore masks.”