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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Vice President Harris tests negative for the coronavirus and will return to work

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the White House in Washington, Feb. 2, 2022.

By Adeel Hassan

Vice President Kamala Harris received a negative result on a rapid antigen test for the coronavirus Monday, clearing her return to the White House on Tuesday, her office said.

She had tested positive for the virus last Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking official in Washington to be infected amid renewing concern about President Joe Biden’s potential exposure.

Kirsten Allen, Harris’ press secretary, said Harris would return to work Tuesday in person, wearing “a well-fitting mask while around others through the 10-day period,” which began last week.

Last week, Harris, 57, was prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, an antiviral pill made by Pfizer. In announcing her positive test, her office said she was not experiencing symptoms and would isolate at home.

She received her second booster shot April 1, three days after federal regulators authorized the additional booster for people older than 50. Doug Emhoff, Harris’ husband, tested positive for the virus in mid-March.

In April, three members of Biden’s cabinet — Attorney General Merrick Garland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — tested positive after attending the Gridiron Dinner, a gathering of power players in the capital. It turned into a superspreader event, with more than 70 attendees receiving positive test results, raising concerns that the virus was creeping closer to the Oval Office.

Administration officials said last week that they did not consider Harris to be a close contact of Biden, 79, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition: someone who spends at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of the infected person over a 24-hour period.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told a news conference Monday that the administration tries to socially distance in meetings with Biden. She has repeatedly emphasized that the White House maintains stricter measures than the CDC advises.

Biden attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night and did not wear a mask while on stage. Psaki said Monday that he was masked at other gatherings surrounding the event. She said she did not know if Biden and Harris would be meeting Tuesday.

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