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White House press secretary Jen Psaki tests positive for COVID, Biden negative

Psaki said she's no longer going to Europe with Biden, who plans to meet with European leaders face-to-face about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has tested positive for COVID-19 and will no longer be heading to Europe with President Joe Biden. 

Psaki said she took a PCR test Tuesday ahead of the trip, and Biden had a negative PCR test the same day.

"Today, in preparation for travel to Europe, I took a PCR test this morning," Psaki said in a Tuesday press release. "That test came back positive, which means I will be adhering to CDC guidance and no longer be traveling on the President’s trip to Europe."

According to the release, Psaki met with Biden twice on Monday. Because the meetings were socially distanced, she said Biden is not considered a close contact according to CDC guidance.

Biden plans to meet with European leaders face-to-face about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He is expected to attend a NATO summit in Brussels on March 24 and a scheduled European Council summit, where efforts to impose sanctions and further humanitarian efforts are underway. The White House later announced a stop in Poland, a crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis.

"Thanks to the vaccine, I have only experienced mild symptoms," Psaki said. She plans to follow the White House's COVID-19 protocols and work from home, returning to in-person work after 5 days of isolation and a negative test. 

In a press briefing Tuesday shortly after Psaki's announcement, the White House said no members of the press who attended a nearly hour-long briefing with Psaki on Monday are considered close contacts. 

Psaki first tested positive for COVID in October. That diagnosis also kept her from accompanying Biden abroad ⁠— she had planned to travel with the president to Rome and Glasgow. 

It's not unheard of for someone who has had COVID-19 to become infected again. Reinfections became more likely after the super-contagious omicron variant emerged, even among the fully vaccinated, but those cases tend to be very mild.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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