Biden’s whereabouts in the week leading up to his Covid diagnosis

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After a week spent traveling across the Middle East and meeting with world leaders, President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

The president’s schedule in the days leading to his diagnosis was not short of meetings and events, and he didn’t hold back from using direct contact in his greetings — doling out handshakes and fist bumps to his counterparts across the region.

Biden, who is fully vaccinated and double boosted, is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” such as a runny nose and fatigue, that began Wednesday evening, according to the White House. First lady Jill Biden tested negative for the virus Thursday morning, as did Vice President Kamala Harris.

But Biden interacted with many other leaders in the week leading up to his positive test result, raising the question of who would be considered a close contact to the president. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who was less than 6 feet away from a person with known or suspected Covid starting two days before the infected person developed symptoms. A person would also be a close contact if they were “in the presence of someone with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.”

POLITICO has mapped out the seven days leading to the president’s positive test, what he was doing and who he came in contact with. Here’s the rundown:

Thursday, July 14

Biden tours Jerusalem, meets with Herzog and Netanyahu


One week before his positive test result, Biden was in Jerusalem. He’d landed in the city the day before to kick off his four-day trip to the Middle East, where he would meet with key leaders in an attempt to reassert U.S. leadership in the region.

The president met with dozens of people in Israel on July 14. At the top of the day he participated in a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid — whom he had greeted with a fist bump at the airport. Biden then joined the leaders of Israel, India and the United Arib Emirates for a meeting of the I2U2 Group and had meetings with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later Thursday, Biden attended a reception where Lapid awarded him the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor for his longtime support of the country. He then met with U.S. athletes competing in the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish and Israeli multisport event, before watching the opening ceremonies.

Friday, July 15

Saudi meetings spur controversy

Biden faced major backlash Friday","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.politico.com/news/2022/07/15/a-fist-bump-at-the-palace-biden-squares-off-with-mbs-00046106","_id":"00000182-2471-dbf0-a7f6-747f46880000","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000182-2471-dbf0-a7f6-747f46880001","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>faced major backlash Friday for an exchange with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Upon his arrival to the Al Salam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the president greeted the crown prince with a fist bump — a move widely criticized as being too friendly given that bin Salman had reportedly orchestrated the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The exchange was even more notable after the White House had told reporters just days earlier that the president would limit his handshaking while abroad amid an increase in Covid variants.

Earlier in the day, the president had met with President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, whom he’s pictured shaking hands with. Biden was then seen shaking hands with local leaders during his visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

When he arrived in Jeddah, Biden was received by various Saudi officials, including the governor of the country’s Mecca Province and the Saudi ambassador to the United States. He then participated in a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman, the crown prince and other Saudi and U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Saturday, July 16

POTUS meets GCC+3


Biden’s main event for his last day in the Middle East was attending a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan — known as the GCC+3. He had spent the morning individually meeting with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the UAE.

The summit marked the end of Biden’s meetings in the Middle East. He departed Jeddah and headed back to the U.S. on Saturday evening.

Sunday, July 17

Return to D.C.


The president arrived back at the White House early Sunday, answering questions from reporters as he walked across the South Lawn.

Later Sunday evening, Biden attended mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown.

Monday, July 18


Monday was an uneventful day for Biden, with no public events on his schedule.

Tuesday, July 19

Ukraine's first lady visits


Tuesday was another light day with no public events scheduled.

But in a surprise appearance Tuesday afternoon, Biden was seen greeting Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska — a guest of first lady Jill Biden — at the White House. Biden is pictured standing close to Zelenska with his arm around her.

Wednesday, July 20

Biden pitches climate policy in R.I.


Though Biden mostly laid low in the days following his return from the Middle East, his schedule picked up again just one day before he tested positive for Covid.

The president traveled to Warwick, R.I., along with a contingent of Massachusetts Democrats, including Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Jake Auchincloss and Bill Keating. The president was greeted upon arrival by the governor of Rhode Island and the mayor of Warwick.

The contingent of Massachusetts lawmakers rode in a separate car from Biden to an event at Brayton Point Power Station, a former coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Mass., that is becoming a manufacturing hub for undersea cables. Biden delivered remarks at the plant where he highlighted steps his administration is taking to address the climate crisis. He also met with several local officials at the event.

After arriving back at Joint Base Andrews in the early evening, Biden answered questions from reporters before boarding Marine One back to the White House.

Thursday, July 21

Covid diagnosis Announced

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced in a statement early Thursday that the president had tested positive for Covid. She said Biden will continue to carry out his duties fully during his time isolating at the White House, participating in his planned meetings via phone and Zoom from his residence.

Jean-Pierre said Biden would follow CDC guidelines and not return to in-person work until he tests negative. All of the president’s travel plans have been canceled for at least the next five days.

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