April 8 (UPI) — The White House said President Joe Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday, part of his routine protocol, amid new concern after several Democratic lawmakers tested positive this week.
The test came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’d tested positive on Wednesday and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., got a positive result on Tuesday.
Pelosi attended a White House event in close proximity to Biden this week, prompting concern that the president might have been exposed.
“[Biden] tested negative as part of his regular cadence,” a White House spokesperson told reporters Friday.
Biden, who publicly received a second booster last week, said the United States is in a new phase of addressing the virus that’s centered on protection, testing and rapid treatment.
Earlier Friday, the White House acknowledged concern that Biden may have been exposed.
“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,” White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said before Biden’s negative test result, according to The Hill.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., also tested positive Thursday and said he’d experienced “mild, cold-like symptoms and fatigue.” Others in Biden’s orbit have also tested positive this week, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
The announcement of Biden’s test result came the same day he held a White House event on the South Lawn celebrating the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Dozens of people, including Vice President Kamala Harris, attended the outdoor event.
A similar outdoor event announcing former President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in September 2020, in the first months of the pandemic, turned out to be a super-spreader event after several people, including Trump, tested positive for COVID-19. Others who attended the event and later tested positive included Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; first lady Melania Trump; University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins; former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; and a reporter.
Biden, 79, is at increased risk of severe COVID-10 due to his advanced age, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said his risk is reduced because he’s been fully vaccinated with two booster shots.
“We are taking many, many precautions,” Bedingfield added.