Biden Cancels In-Person Meetings with Micheal Martin, Who Tested Positive

President Biden canceled face-to-face meetings with Prime Minister Michael Martin of Ireland on Thursday after the prime minister received a positive test for coronavirus during a gala event in Washington on Wednesday night where the two all attended.

Instead, the two leaders met virtually on Thursday morning.

Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, confirmed the positive test early on Thursday, complicating the prime minister’s plans to spend the day with Mr Biden for traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Mr. Biden, 79 years old and vaccinated and healthy, was scheduled to meet Martin at a morning meeting at the White House, followed by a luncheon at the Capitol and a mock presentation at the White House. The White House. Officials said Mr. Biden will still attend luncheons and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. During their virtual morning meeting, Mr. Biden was seated near a television screen showing Mr. Martin, with a bowl of mixed rice paper on the coffee table. The president said he was “deeply sorry for the inconvenience” to the virtual format.

White House officials say Mr. Biden did not have close contact with Mr. Martin during Wednesday’s gala dinner, which the CDC determined was at least 15 minutes away from someone.

The prime minister’s test results come amid an explosion of public officials in Washington in recent days. At least nine Democrats of Congress test positive this week after stepping back from partying and voting late last week. Douglas EmhoffThe husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, also tested positive this week, Former President Barack Obama.

White House officials downplayed the recent spate of cases, noting that overall rates in Washington remain extremely low. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Monday that the United States is in a better position to fight the latest variant, called BA.2, because of the number of people vaccinated.

“It was in circulation in the United States for a while,” she said of the new variant. “Of course, we’ve been keeping a close eye on it.”

Mr. Mulhall say on Twitter that he accepted the leadership award for Mr. Martin on Wednesday at the Ireland Foundation gala in Washington, an event that Mr. Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi also attended.

“I filled out Taoiseach after he tested positive for #Covid-19,” he wrote, using the Irish word for the country’s leader. “I pray for Taoiseach’s recovery.”

Irish journalists traveling with Mr. Martin’s delegation said he attended the first part of the gala dinner, and photos from the event emerged showing him sitting next to Ms. Pelosi.

An Irish government spokesman said in a statement on Thursday that the prime minister tested negative for the virus earlier on Wednesday and also on Sunday, before traveling to the United States.

His second test on Wednesday was carried out after a member of the prime minister’s delegation received a positive result in a test, the statement said.

Mr Mulhall did not elaborate on whether Mr Martin had symptoms.

According to a tradition dating back to 1952, Irish ambassadors or political leaders present the US president with a bowl of monsters on or around St. Patrick’s Day, usually at the White House. The tradition is held in high esteem in Ireland, and by many Irish Americans, as a sign of the close relationship between the two nations.

Mr. Martin will now likely never visit the Oval Office in this official capacity: His first scheduled visit last year was canceled because of the pandemic and, as part of a joint agreement Allied with two other Irish political parties, he was expected to hand over the role of prime minister. minister before next March.

On Wednesday, Claire Cronin, the US ambassador to Ireland, said on Twitter that she canceled her plans to join Mr. Martin because she had tested positive for coronavirus.

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