President Biden tests negative for COVID-19 after possible exposure by aide – USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday after coming into contact last week with a White House aide who has since tested positive for the virus. 
The White House announced the results Wednesday afternoon after Biden told reporters hours earlier that he had received a PCR test but was waiting on results. 
The results came amid a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, fueled in part by the rise of the omicron variant, which now makes up 73% of all new coronavirus cases in the U.S. That highly contagious variant has now overtaken the delta variant in the U.S. 
The White House said Biden will resume his “normal” testing schedule but did not specify when his next test will occur.  
White House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed confidence that Biden, who turned 79 years old last month, is protected from infection by the White House’s existing COVID-19 protocols. 
“We haven’t changed any protocols, and we have pretty strict ones, just so people know,” Psaki said Wednesday on MSNBC. She said everyone who meets the president is required to get tested for the virus. “We always wear masks when we’re in meetings and when we’re with the president.”
In Washington, D.C., officials reported a seven-day average of 360 new cases per 100,000 residents, double the seven-day average of 182 new cases on Dec. 12. 
On Monday, the White House said a “mid-level staff member” who tested positive for COVID-19 Monday spent about 30 minutes “in proximity to the president” on Air Force One as Biden flew from South Carolina to Pennsylvania on Friday. The aide, who is fully vaccinated and boosted and had tested negative before getting on the plane, did not experience symptoms until Sunday, according to the White House. 
In a speech on Tuesday, Biden warned Americans of more hospitalizations and deaths for those who remain unvaccinated and announced a new effort to expand testing and mobilize military medical personnel to help overburdened hospitals .
More:White House aide who was in close contact with Biden tests positive for coronavirus
The Biden administration plans to make 500 million free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests available to Americans by mail. The president also said the U.S. will deploy 1,000 military medical personnel to overburdened hospitals in an effort to confront surging COVID-19 infections and the new, highly-transmissible omicron variant.
Biden received his booster shot – the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – in September after receiving his first two shots earlier in the year. Biden has urged Americans to get vaccinated and to get their booster shots, stressing that those who are protected can feel safer during the winter months.
Nearly 62% of Americans have received at least two COVID-19 vaccination doses, according to the CDC, while only 30% of Americans have received their booster shots.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison. 
More:Biden to announce free rapid COVID-19 tests and help for overwhelmed hospitals amid omicron threat


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