Biden offered a closed fist in return.
The president punched and patted the shoulder of a delegation stationed along the red carpet at the foot of Air Force One, which the White House said was part of an effort to reduce physical contact amid the rapid spread of a novel coronavirus variant. .
But just moments later, Biden abandoned the new effort, exchanging a cordial handshake with the current opposition leader, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden later shook hands with a Holocaust survivor couple at Yad Vashem.
Pressured by reporters on Air Force One, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denied that this was the reason for the attempt to reduce physical contact.
“We say we will try to minimize contact as much as possible. But there are also precautions we take because it depends on his doctor. BA.4, BA.5 are really like us.” Jean-Pierre, referring to emerging coronavirus variants, to keep him safe and keep us all safe We want to make sure that we take these measures for it.”
Jean-Pierre said there is no “new policy” on not shaking hands, but Biden will take “extra measures”.
“We’re in a phase of the pandemic right now, trying to reduce contact and increase masking because we’re standing here masked in front of you, to minimize the spread,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday. said. “You know, I can’t speak to every moment, every interaction and every gesture. That’s kind of a general principle we apply here.”
5 variant became dominant in the US last week, with epidemiologists warning of an increase in cases and hospitalizations in the coming weeks, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During his visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Biden also held hands with two Holocaust survivors. Biden went to speak with Rena Quint, 86, and Gita Cycowicz, 95, at the end of the wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial Hall. Both women grabbed Biden’s arm at different points in the exchange, which took longer than officials expected.
“Did you see the President hug me?” Quint later said. “She asked permission to kiss me and kept holding my hand and we were told not to touch her!”
Biden’s attempt to reduce physical contact marked a sudden shift.
On Monday, Biden shook hands with lawmakers and gun safety advocates at an event at the White House, and was seen hugging and shaking hands with members of Congress at the Congressional Picnic on Tuesday.
And last week, Biden shook hands, hugged supporters, and took selfies at an event in Cleveland.
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