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White House rejects Biden’s COVID-19 testing program

WASHINGTON – In an abrupt change of course, the White House now declines to comment on the frequency of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 testing program, even as it claims it would let the public know if he ever tested positive for the coronavirus.

Since Inauguration Day, the White House had frequently answered questions from reporters about when the 79-year-old Biden last tested negative for the virus. Now the White House says it is its policy not to answer those questions.

“I’m telling you he’s on a regular cadence,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday, refusing to say what day he last tested negative. “I just don’t have a date to share with you, but he’s on a regular weekly cadence.”

Following Jean-Pierre’s comments, Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher tweeted Thursday that “our policy is not to read every test POTUS has taken.”

Biden has often been tested more frequently, either because of close conversations with people who have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 or because of his travel schedule. And the White House had previously been more transparent about Biden’s tests.

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“To be transparent with you and the American people, we wanted to share that the President tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday,” then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last February. “We will dare to provide this update next day in the future.”

As late as May 4, Psaki told reporters that Biden had tested negative the day before.

The new, more opaque approach comes as senior White House officials have spoken matter-of-factly about the chances of the president catching COVID, a measure of how ingrained the virus is in society — and its reduced threat to those who stand up up to date on their vaccinations and with access to treatments.

Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the White House would notify the public if Biden tested positive or if he was considered a “close contact” of someone who tested positive. The White House uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of “close contact” being in the presence of a person with known or suspected COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes or within two meters of someone with the virus for up to two days before they tested positive.

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The White House said Biden has never tested positive for COVID-19.

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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/16/white-house-clams-up-on-biden-covid-19-testing-regimen/ White House rejects Biden’s COVID-19 testing program

Sarah Y. Kim

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