President Joe Biden met with Saudi officials indoors without masks for extended periods of time, a move that may have exposed him to the virus. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images
President Joe Biden’s announcement Thursday that he tested positive for Covid-19 threw a spotlight on the administration’s flagging efforts to contain the virus — and the president’s health.
Eighteen months into Biden’s presidency, roughly 125,000 people a day are reporting new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The real number is much higher, as people test at home or never test at all. Nearly 400 people are dying each day.
While Biden is vaccinated and twice-boosted — putting him at less risk than President Donald Trump during his October 2020 diagnosis — people above age 70 are still nearly three times more likely to be hospitalized and also to get long Covid, a range of symptoms that can persist for months.
Why wasn’t Biden masking up?
The White House’s announcement came on the heels of Biden’s four-day visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, the sixth international trip of his presidency.
The president met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi officials indoors without masks for extended periods of time, a move that may have exposed him to the virus.
“We follow protocols of the countries we visit,” said a White House official.
That’s indicative of how the willingness to take precautions has changed since the deadly winter wave.
“As we start to see fatalities creep up and hospitalizations creep up, everything about recommendations now is up in the air,” s …