President Joe Biden appeared wearing a mask for the first time in months on Tuesday, a day after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.But the president quickly backed away from that idea during a ceremony honoring an 81-year-old Vietnam veteran, and the two Octogenarians who unmask share Before parting, the two sides shook hands cordially.

The White House had earlier said that Biden, who had tested negative for the virus earlier in the day, would wear a mask indoors but could remove it when standing at a distance from others.

The reality looks a little different from the promised deal, reflecting how messy coronavirus precautions can become national emergency has been it’s over There is also a requirement to wear a maskbut the virus continues to spread. Hospitalizations are up, but not the same as beforedoctors hope to have more injections next month when the new booster becomes available.

After entering the East Room, both Biden and Captain Larry Taylor took off their masks, stood side by side, and read the citation aloud, before Biden reached around the veteran’s body and put the medal around his neck. The two then stood face to face and shook hands cordially.

People who have been exposed to the coronavirus should wear a mask and monitor for symptoms for 10 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden and his wife traveled to Florida together on Saturday to inspect the damage from Hurricane Idalia.The Bidens at the time spent part of Labor Day weekend at their Delaware beach house On Monday, the president did not take his wife to a union event in Philadelphia before returning to the White House.

First lady Jill Biden plans to stay at her home in Rehoboth Beach for a week and is arranging substitute teachers for her classes at a community college in northern Virginia. The president is due to leave for India on Thursday for the G20 summit, and the White House said he would be tested again before departing.

Biden was present at Tuesday’s Medal of Honor event for less than 15 minutes. CDC officials used 15 minutes as a rough guideline for determining how long casual contact between two people can spread COVID-19, although it is possible for the virus to spread in less time.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have been increasing, from about 6,000 a week in early summer to more than 15,000 the week of Aug. 19, the latest week for federal data. But COVID-19 hospitalization rates are considered low in 96 percent of the country, according to the CDC.

At the end of August, the US death toll from COVID-19 was 2%, up from 1.7% the previous week.

The CDC recommends that people with COVID-19 stay home and away from others for at least five days, and wear a high-quality mask when indoors with other people. The CDC also said that uninfected people should avoid being around infected people until the home isolation period ends. If they must be near an infected household member, they must always wear a high-quality mask, practice good hand hygiene and take other infection prevention measures, the CDC said.

White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Biden would follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask indoors unless he was far enough away from someone.

“They recommended a combination of measures, masking, testing and monitoring for symptoms – he was asymptomatic – so we will follow those guidelines,” she said. She would not say whether Biden would be tested daily until he travels to India.

If the president contracts the virus again — which he did last summer — he would have to cancel the trip, which also included a stop in Vietnam and a military base in Alaska to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

White House officials aren’t speculating on contingency plans if Biden can’t make the trip. National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said the government “has long experience in dealing with situations where COVID-19 plays a role in summits from the early days of its administration”.

“As you know, we’ve seen different leaders participate in virtual events at different times,” Sullivan said.

The Bidens contracted COVID-19 last summer, which was about the last time the president wore a mask in public.He also recently stated he plans to ask for more money Congress approves development of a new coronavirus vaccine.

Officials are already waiting for an update The COVID-19 vaccine contains an omicron strain called XBB.1.5. That’s an important change from today’s combination shot, which mixes the original coronavirus strain with last year’s most common omicron variant. But as the virus continues to mutate, there will always be a need for an updated vaccine.

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