But Biden interacted with numerous other leaders in the week leading up to his positive test result, raising questions about who would be considered close contact with the president. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of a person with known or suspected Covid beginning two days before the infected person developed symptoms. A person would also be a close contact if they were “in the presence of a person with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period”.
POLITICO charted the seven days leading up to the president’s positive test, what he was doing and who he came into contact with. Here is the recap:
Thursday July 14
Biden visits Jerusalem, meets Herzog and Netanyahu
A week before his positive test result, Biden was in Jerusalem. He had 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 a bid to reassert American leadership in the region.
The president met with dozens of people in Israel on July 14. At the top of the day, he took part 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 Arab Emirates for an I2U2 group meeting and held talks with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Later Thursday, Biden attended a reception where Lapid presented him with the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor for his longstanding support of the country. He then met with American athletes participating in the Maccabiah Games, an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event, before attending the opening ceremonies.
friday july 15
Saudi meetings spark controversy
Biden facing a major backlash on Friday for an exchange with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Upon arriving at the royal Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the president greeted the crown prince with a fist bump – a move widely criticized as too friendly given bin Salman allegedly orchestrated the assassination in 2018 by Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
The exchange was even more notable after the White House told reporters days earlier that the president would limit his overseas handshake amid a rise in Covid variants.
Earlier in the day, the president had met with President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, whom he is pictured shaking hands with. Biden was then seen shaking hands with local leaders during his visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Upon arriving in Jeddah, Biden was received by various Saudi officials, including the governor of Makkah province and the Saudi ambassador to the United States. He then took part in a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman, the Crown Prince and other Saudi and US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Saturday July 16
POTUS meets GCC+3
Biden’s main event for his final day in the Middle East was attending a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq and Jordan – known as GCC+3. He had spent the morning meeting individually with the leaders of Iraq, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The summit marked the end of Biden’s meetings in the Middle East. He left Jeddah and returned to the United States on Saturday evening.
Sunday July 17
Back to DC
The president returned to 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
Visit of the First Lady of Ukraine
Tuesday was another light day with no public events scheduled.
But in a surprise appearance on 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 to RI
Although Biden mostly stayed low in the days following his return from the Middle East, his schedule resumed just a day before he tested positive for Covid.
The president traveled to Warwick, RI, with a contingent of Massachusetts Democrats, including Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Representatives Jake Auchincloss and Bill Keating. The President was greeted upon his 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 center for undersea cable manufacturing. Biden delivered remarks at the factory where he highlighted the steps his administration is taking to address the climate crisis. He also met several local officials at the event.
After returning to Joint Base Andrews in the early evening, Biden answered questions from reporters before boarding Marine One to return to the White House.
Thursday July 21
Covid diagnosis announced
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced in a statement Thursday morning that the president had tested positive for Covid. She said Biden would continue to carry out his duties fully during his isolation at the White House, participating in his scheduled meetings by phone and Zoom from his residence.
Jean-Pierre said Biden would follow CDC guidelines and not return to work in person until he tested negative. All of the president’s travel plans have been canceled for at least the next five days.