Harris tests positive for COVID-19; VP isn’t considered close contact to Biden

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, the latest White House official to test positive for the virus.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines,” Harris wrote in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted.”

Harris is not exhibiting symptoms and has not been a close contact to President Joe Biden or first lady Jill Biden, said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president, in a statement.

“She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the vice president’s residence,” Allen said in the statement. “She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians.”

Allen added that Harris would return to the White House when she tests negative. Harris is fully vaccinated and doubly boosted. Allen tweeted Tuesday evening that after consultation with her physicians, Harris was prescribed and has taken Paxlovid, an antiviral drug to treat COVID-19. Paxlovid has been shown to be effective at keeping high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital.

Harris was tested Tuesday morning in her West Wing office as part of her regular testing cadence, her office said. This is the first time Harris has received a positive result.

Harris did not participate in any meetings or events at the White House this morning, her office said.

Biden called Harris Tuesday afternoon, the White House said. Biden wanted to check in and make sure she has everything she needs as she quarantines at home, according to the White House.

Harris, 57, late last week traveled to California and remained there over the weekend.

On Thursday, Harris spoke about maternal health at William J. Rutter Center at the University of California, San Francisco Mission Bay. She then traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday evening. She remained in Los Angeles through the weekend, where she had no public events. The vice president returned to Washington on Monday.

Harris’ last public event with Biden was on April 18 at the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn.

She was scheduled to be at the White House Tuesday, where she was going to join Biden for the president’s daily briefing at 10:15 am, according to the president’s schedule.

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Wave of COVID in Washington

Harris tested positive the same day asother lawmakers, including Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Harris’ recent positive test could throw a wrench in several Senate votes this week, where she would serve as the tie-breaking vote.

A cloture vote for Lisa Cook to serve on the Federal Reserve Board is scheduled for Tuesday. A vote on FTC nominee Alvaro Bedoya was also scheduled for later this week.

Harris has acted as a tie-breaking vote 17 times in Congress.

The vice president’s result comes several weeks after COVID-19 spread among top officials in Washington, following the Gridiron Dinner, an annual event attended by hundreds of lawmakers, media members and business leaders.

Harris was not in attendance at the April 2 event. But Jamal Simmons, Harris’ communications director who attended the dinner, tested positive for COVID-19 several days after the event, Allen said. He was in close contact with the vice president, as defined by CDC guidance at the time, she said.

Other officials and lawmakers who tested positive for COVID-19 following the Gridiron Dinner include Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Harris is the latest White House official to contract COVID-19.

Last month, her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, tested positive for the virus. White House press secretary Jen Psaki and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre both tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

Harris earlier this month caused controversy after she did not wear a mask during a ceremony after Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court, just days after being a close contact to someone with COVID-19.

Harris also did not wear a mask to preside over Jackson’s confirmation in the Senate. Both events occurred days after Simmons tested positive for COVID-19.

The CDC recommends that a person who has been exposed to COVID-19, but is fully vaccinated, should wear a mask for 10 days when around others.

Contributing: Chelsey Cox and Karen Weintraub

Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Vice President Kamala Harris tests positive for COVID-19

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