Biden Tests Negative for Covid Ahead of G-20 Trip

President Joe Biden tested negative again for Covid-19, the White House said, amid questions over whether he will travel to the G-20 Summit in India later this week after a positive test for first lady Jill Biden.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden tested negative again for Covid-19, the White House said, amid questions over whether he will travel to the G-20 Summit in India later this week after a positive test for first lady Jill Biden.

“President Biden tested negative last night for Covid-19 and tested negative again today. He’s not experiencing any symptoms,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre said Biden was taking steps to protect himself from a possible infection and was in close consultation with his physician.

“Since the president was with the first lady yesterday, he will be masking while indoors and around people in alignment with CDC guidance,” she said. “The president will remove his mask when sufficiently distanced from others indoors, and while outside as well.”

The White House announced Monday evening that Jill Biden had tested positive and was experiencing only mild symptoms. While Biden is still testing negative, the first lady’s illness has complicated his plans, just days before he is scheduled to depart for the leaders’ summit in New Delhi and also visit Vietnam.

Jean-Pierre said Biden will continue being tested at a “regular cadence” and monitored for symptoms but would not say when he would next receive a test. She said all travelers including the president will be tested before traveling to India.

Asked about plans in case Biden is unable to attend the summit, Jean-Pierre said she would not engage in hypotheticals.  A White House official familiar with Biden’s plans said earlier Tuesday that no changes had been made to his travel plans at this time.

The first lady’s diagnosis comes at a challenging time for the president, who in addition to the G-20 is also scheduled to travel to New York City later this month for the United Nations General Assembly. 

Both events promise to be important forums for Biden to discuss continued support for Ukraine as the country carries out an offensive to regain land lost to Russia in the country’s occupied south, as well as promote the administration’s climate and economic goals.

Biden is scheduled to visit Vietnam after the G-20, a bid to strengthen ties between the countries as the US looks to counter Chinese influence in the region.

G-20 Absences

If Biden is unable to attend the G-20, that would be a further blow to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans to attend the G-20 for the second year running, and Chinese President Xi Jinping is also not intending to travel to New Delhi, according to officials familiar with the preparations for the meeting who requested anonymity to speak about the planning.

US officials had high expectations the summit would provide an opportunity to improve relations with China, which have been strained in recent months by disputes over issues including Taiwan, close military encounters in the South China Sea, a Biden export ban on semiconductor technology, and an alleged spy balloon which crossed the continental US. 

Xi and Biden have not spoken since last year’s G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. The November meeting improved relations between the two sides but that goodwill was dissipated by other controversies.

Biden told reporters on Sunday he was “disappointed” about reports Xi planned to skip the conference. The two might get an opportunity to meet in November, when the US hosts the APEC conference in San Francisco.

Jill Biden traveled with the president to their Rehoboth, Delaware, home on Saturday after the two surveyed damage from Hurricane Idalia in Florida. The president was with her until Monday morning, when he traveled to Philadelphia for an event to mark Labor Day, returning to the White House in the evening. The first lady remains in Rehoboth Beach.

Jean-Pierre said the White House would be encouraging Americans to get updated vaccines that will be available in mid-September, in addition to their annual flu shot.

The president and the first lady both tested positive for Covid last year, and also experienced rebound cases. Their symptoms at the time were mild, and both were prescribed medication.

Sign up here for India Edition — Menaka Doshi’s weekly dispatch to your inbox on the billionaires, businesses and policy decisions behind India’s rise. 

–With assistance from Jenny Leonard.

(Adds details in sixth and seventh paragraphs)

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.