Biden offered a tight fist in exchange.
The president dodged the bumps with a fist and patted the delegation on the shoulder along the red carpet at the foot of Air Force One, which the White House said was part of an effort to reduce body collisions amid the crisis. rapid spread of a new coronavirus variant. .
But just minutes later, Biden broke with another attempt – exchanging a warm handshake with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the current opposition leader. Biden then also held hands with a pair of Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem.
Pressed by reporters aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied that was the reason for the effort to reduce physical contact.
“We are saying that we will try to minimize exposure as much as possible. But we also take precautions because this is up to his doctor. BA.4, BA.5 is really so, like us” is increasing. And we want to make sure we’re taking those precautions to keep him safe and keep us all safe,” Jean-Pierre said, referring to emerging coronavirus variants. .
Jean-Pierre said there was no “new policy” about no shaking hands but said Biden would take “additional precautions.”
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “We’re in the midst of a pandemic now looking for ways to reduce contact and increase face coverings, as we’re standing here covering your face in front of you, to minimize the spread of the infection. lan,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday. “I can’t talk to, you know, every moment, every interaction and every movement. It’s just the kind of general principle we’re applying here.”
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.5 variant became dominant in the US last week and epidemiologists have warned of an increase in the number of cases and the number of cases. hospital in the coming weeks.
During a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial site, Biden also held hands with two Holocaust survivors. Biden spoke to 86-year-old Rena Quint and 95-year-old Gita Cycowicz at the conclusion of the wreath-laying ceremony in the Memorial Hall. Both women grabbed Biden’s arm at different points in the exchange, which appeared to take longer than officials anticipated.
“Did you see the Chairman hug me?” Quint said later. “He asked permission to kiss me, and he kept holding my hand and we were told not to touch him!”
Biden’s attempt to reduce physical contact marked an abrupt shift.
On Monday, Biden shook hands with lawmakers and gun safety advocates at a White House event, and on Tuesday he was seen hugging and shaking hands with members of Congress at the Picnic Congressional.
And last week, Biden shook hands, hugged supporters and posed for selfies at an event in Cleveland.