In a separate statement, the president-elect’s office confirmed that the individual had traveled with Biden on Tuesday, but “was not ever in close contact” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “He also adhered to masking and social distancing guidelines at all times during the trip,” the transition team said.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” a member of Biden’s traveling communications team “who was in close contact” with the individual will self-quarantine for the next week. The other members of the traveling press pool “who were in close contact with this individual are not on pool duty today and will not be until they clear the window for being infectious.”
The transition team added that no other member of Biden’s staff “has been assessed to be at risk for exposure or transmission of the virus.”
The news of the diagnosis comes as Biden and his advisers are still debating when he will receive the recently authorized coronavirus vaccine, which he has already committed to taking publicly.
“We’re working on that right now. I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said Wednesday, speaking at an introductory event for his Transportation secretary pick, Pete Buttigieg.
Biden’s campaign went to great lengths during the 2020 White House race to practice social distancing and other mitigation measures, both to shield the septuagenarian candidate from infection and to model healthy behavior for Americans.
President Donald Trump and his allies frequently mocked Biden for his strict following of public health guidance, which resulted in diminished crowd sizes for the Democratic nominee’s campaign events or entirely virtual appearances which Biden made from his Delaware home.
Meanwhile, Trump continued to headline large-scale, in-person rallies with no mask-wearing or social distancing requirements. Numerous top campaign aides and senior administration officials became infected across three separate White House outbreaks, and Trump himself ultimately was hospitalized with Covid-19 in October.
Biden’s most high-profile brush with the virus came as a result of Trump’s own infection, when the two candidates participated in their first televised debate in Cleveland just days before the president’s positive diagnosis.
More recently, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was forced to cancel a weekend of campaign travel in October after her communications director and a member of her flight crew tested positive for Covid-19.
Biden’s transition team has already signaled that his adherence to coronavirus-related health directives will carry into his White House and influence the operations of the next administration. On Tuesday, the president-elect’s inaugural committee advised Americans against traveling to attend his swearing-in and previewed a “reimagined” ceremonial parade.