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Kamala Harris tests positive for COVID-19

Kamala Harris tests positive for COVID
Vice President Kamala Harris tests positive for COVID-19 04:05

Washington — Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19, her office announced Tuesday.

Harris, 57, received positive rapid and PCR tests, but is exhibiting no symptoms, according to her press secretary Kirsten Allen. She will isolate and work from the vice president's residence. Allen added that Harris is taking Pfizer's Paxlovid antiviral pills, which can reduce the risk of becoming severely ill, at the direction of her physicians.

Harris has not been a close contact to either President Biden or first lady Dr. Jill Biden because of their recent travel schedules, the statement said, and will return to the White House once she tests negative. She has been vaccinated and received two booster shots.

"Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I'm grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted," Harris tweeted.

Mr. Biden and Harris spoke on the phone Tuesday afternoon, and the president "wanted to check in and make sure she has everything she needs as she quarantines at home," according to the White House.

The vice president's positive diagnosis comes more than a month after her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, tested positive for COVID-19. 

Several other members of the White House staff, including Harris's communications director Jamal Simmons and Jill Biden's press secretary Michael LaRosa, also received positive tests earlier this month, as did top Washington officials including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

The vice president was set to meet with Mr. Biden in the Oval Office on Tuesday morning to receive a daily intelligence briefing, though she did not participate in the meeting, her spokesperson said. 

A White House official told CBS News that Harris did go to the White House on Tuesday morning and was tested for the coronavirus in her West Wing office as part of her regular routine. Harris then left the White House in her motorcade after receiving a positive test.

She last saw the president on April 18, the day of the White House Easter Egg Roll, after which she departed for California, where she spent the week attending events. Harris returned to Washington on Monday from Los Angeles.

In addition to being first in the presidential line of succession, Harris also plays a crucial role in the 50-50 Senate, casting tie-breaking votes.

"I think if you take a step back and look at the vice president, she is boosted, especially twice," White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told reporters Tuesday. "We have a very, very contagious variant out there. It is going to be hard to ensure that no one gets COVID in America. That's not even a policy goal." 

While the nation saw a steep drop in new coronavirus infections following a mid-January peak driven by the highly contagious Omicron, there has been a slight uptick in cases over the past few weeks due to the emergence of the new BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron variant. 

As part of its efforts to protect Americans from the virus and bolster access to treatments, the White House announced Tuesday it is expanding availability of Paxlovid. First authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in December, the pills were in short supply, but delivery of the antiviral has since been accelerated.

The White House is also launching more "test-to-treat" sites, where Americans can be tested and, if they are found to have the coronavirus, receive free oral antiviral pills in one visit.

Weijia Jiang and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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