Covid precautions around Biden have varied over his time in office.


President Biden’s aides took extraordinary measures when he first came into the Oval Office to try to protect the president from the virus, in a marked contrast from the Trump White House.

In the early months of the new administration, the White House was a virtual ghost town, with most members of the president’s staff working remotely, few reporters working in the building, and most of the president’s duties performed remotely over Zoom calls or the telephone.

In those days — before vaccines were widely available — seeing Mr. Biden in person required receiving a negative test that morning. The few members of his staff who met with him face to face were required to wear masks at all times and to remain socially distanced.

The usual cadence of a president’s schedule was radically altered. In-person events were not held; travel around the country and abroad was postponed; engagement with the press was limited; meetings with world leaders were kept to a minimum, and often done remotely.

Over time, though, those protections have fluctuated.

In the spring and early summer of 2021, when the pandemic seemed to be waning, the president lifted some restrictions. He held a July 4 party on the White House lawn that summer to celebrate what he said was the country’s emergence from the shutdowns caused by the worst health emergency in 100 years.

As new virus variants like Delta and Omicron later emerged, the administration amended the rules inside the White House. And when vaccines became commonplace and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its recommendations about social distancing and mask-wearing, the president’s aides gradually shifted to a more normal routine.

This year, the president has resumed traveling, with several trips overseas to attend summits. Most recently, he returned last weekend from visits to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where he shook hands with his counterparts.

At home, Mr. Biden now regularly holds crowded in-person events in the East Room of the White House, where most participants do not wear masks. He traveled aboard Air Force One to an event in Massachusetts on Wednesday, spending time with members of his cabinet and lawmakers and delivering a speech about climate change.

But the White House has never dropped some of the precautions surrounding Mr. Biden himself.

Reporters who are scheduled to travel with the president are still required to obtain a negative test result before joining the motorcade. The White House has not revealed specifics of its testing regime for staff members, but has said that people who are in close contact with Mr. Biden are tested frequently.

Jen Psaki, who recently left the White House staff after a year and a half as Mr. Biden’s press secretary, said on MSNBC on Thursday that the president and his aides were aware that he might eventually be infected, despite the precautions.

“The White House makes risk assessments, just like the American people do,” she said. “That’s not always easy, right? Every day you’re making risk assessments about whether you’re exposing yourself or not.”

She added about Mr. Biden, “I have no doubt he will continue to operate, once he recovers from Covid, as somebody — as a leader who wants to engage the people across the country.”

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