White House lifting its COVID-19 testing rule for people around Biden, ending a pandemic vestige

President Joe Biden walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 1, 2024, to travel to Camp David, Md., for the weekend. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden walks towards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 1, 2024, to travel to Camp David, Md., for the weekend. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Monday lifted its COVID-19 testing requirement for those who plan to be in close contact with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses, bringing to an end the last coronavirus prevention protocol at the White House.

The White House said the change aligns its policies with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. The agency last week relaxed its recommendation that those who test positive for COVID-19 isolate for five days. Now, the agency says people can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it’s been a day since they’ve had a fever.

The White House testing protocol was instituted shortly after the pandemic began in 2020 when former President Donald Trump was in the White House. It was further strengthened by Biden’s administration when he took office amid the pandemic in January 2021.

Both Trump and Biden contracted the virus while in office. Trump required hospitalization after falling seriously ill weeks before the 2020 presidential election; Biden had minimal symptoms after catching it in the summer of 2022 after having been vaccinated.

More than 1.18 million people in the U.S. died from COVID-19, according to CDC data and 6.85 million were hospitalized over the past four years. More than 270 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. The vaccines have helped dramatically reduce instances of serious disease and death since their widespread availability in early 2021.

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