The Perfect Enemy | Jean-Pierre flounders questions on Biden’s last COVID test
July 5, 2022
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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sparred with the press Thursday over questions about President Biden’s COVID testing schedule. 

Following the recent news that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Health Secretary Xavier Becerra tested positive for the coronavirus, NBC’s Peter Alexander questioned if Jean-Pierre could update them on when Biden was last tested.

“It’s a regular cadence. That’s what we do. We will share, per CDC, when he was a close contact, and he has not been a close contact. If he was a close contact, we will let you know,” Jean-Pierre answered.

When Alexander pressed further about an exact date as per usual, she declined to answer, instead repeating that Biden gets tested weekly.

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Newly appointed White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds her first news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on May 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“So as soon as you go back there and find out the date, you’ll share it with us?” Alexander asked.

“I’m not saying that,” she responded.

As Alexander continued to ask about the specific date, Jean-Pierre explained that the weekly testing is standard procedure for Biden as recommended by his doctor and only impacted by close contact.

“What we normally do is he gets tested weekly and that’s been his cadence as in coordination with his doctor. There have been times when he’s tested more than that because we’ve traveled. When we travel, we all have to take tests as we’re traveling or other things or when he went to the White House Correspondents Dinner, so sometimes it’s not once a week. But I’m saying to you right now it’s a weekly testing cadence. That’s what we do as it’s coordinated with his doctor,” Jean-Pierre said.

President Joe Biden removes his protective face mask before speaking during a meeting with the Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, in Washington. 

President Joe Biden removes his protective face mask before speaking during a meeting with the Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Wall Street Journal’s Catherine Lucey and NPR’s Asma Khalid also followed up on the question, noting that former press secretary Jen Psaki would inform them on the exact dates. However, Jean-Pierre again declined to answer whether she would share the date eventually simply explaining “because he gets tested weekly.” 

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The Washington Post’s Matt Viser later asked again if Jean-Pierre could explain when the White House plans to release the COVID-19 test results. She again said she did not have an exact date.

“We have said before he tests weekly, and again, as we’ve said many times, if we were to be a close contact as defined by the CDC, we would update his testing cadence accordingly and share that. We would share what that would look like and be transparent about that. He has not had a close contact. Because he has not had a close contact, we have not changed that cadence, and it’s something that happens with his doctor,” Jean-Pierre answered.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pauses during her remarks on the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 26, 2022.  

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pauses during her remarks on the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 26, 2022.   (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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“Has he ever tested positive?” Viser asked.

“No, not that I know of. We would share that. I think that is something we would share because that would change his testing cadence clearly if he had a close contact and so we would share that with you and be transparent about that. We would be transparent about that,” Jean-Pierre closed.