Kamala Harris considered ‘close contact’ with Biden after COVID diagnosis

The White House said Thursday that Vice President Kamala Harris was considered a “close contact” of President Biden after testing positive for COVID-19.

A White House official confirmed the veep’s status hours after the administration announced it had tested negative for the coronavirus.

“There are no changes to his schedule,” the Harris manager added.

CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes “starting 2 days before the infected person develops symptoms”.

Harris and Biden were scheduled to receive a private intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning. The pair also greeted Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska during her visit to the White House later in the day.

Close contacts of infected people should wear protective masks at the White House.

Harris, 57, had previously contracted COVID-19 in April and recovered after experiencing mild symptoms.

On Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged a question about contingency plans to transfer power to Harris if the 79-year-old president’s illness worsens.

“The president is – has mild symptoms, he’s been able to do the business of the American people since the [White House] residence and that’s what matters right now,” she said.

Biden returned from Saudi Arabia around midnight Saturday and attended a Catholic church service in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood on Sunday.

Harris previously contracted COVID-19 in April.
Evan Vucci/AP

He held no public events on Monday and remained out of public view on Tuesday except for a brief outdoor display of flowers in Zelenska.

Biden traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday for an event focused on global warming shortly before falling ill.

The predominant and highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 has a median incubation period of 3-4 daysAccording to the CDC.

White House coronavirus coordinator Dr Ashish Jha told a Thursday briefing that contact tracing would be done to warn people of possible exposure, not to find out who infected the president.

“Contact tracing is for people in the past 48 hours who were – after testing positive, so someone met the president a week ago, they would not be considered a close contact” , did he declare.

“Are we going to look a week ago to see who might have given – it’s not, I mean, no,” he added. “The purpose of contact tracing is to ensure that anyone who may have been exposed is so identified to prevent onward transmission.”

Jha also said, however, that the strain of the virus that infected Biden is being sequenced, which may provide additional insight into how he may have caught it.

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