Joe Biden announced that he has, blessedly, tested negative for the coronavirus, three days after standing in the same airspace as a fuming, spitting, bellowing, now-coronavirus-positive Donald Trump. Though they stood on opposite ends of the stage, and did not shake hands, Trump and his family broke debate terms by going maskless in the audience, as did his aides in the debate prep room (and Trump proceeded to come into contact with loads of people over the next three days, but I digress). But Biden and his wife Jill, who’s also tested negative, aren’t out of the woods.
The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health recommends that anyone who’s been in “close contact” with someone who has the virus should still quarantine for two weeks, even if they’ve tested negative:
If a person has had a known exposure to COVID-19 (the CDC defines “exposure” as close contact with someone who has COVID-19), but a negative COVID-19 test, that person should still quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure.
A New York State Department of Health covid-19 hotline operator further confirmed to Gizmodo that anyone who’s been within six feet of a person who’s recently tested positive should quarantine and then get retested. While again, it appears that Trump and Biden maintained a six-foot distance, sharing an indoor space increases risk, and an early study showed that the virus was able to spread from diners at opposite ends of a Guangzhou, China restaurant due to air flow.
It’s also possible that an infected person can receive multiple negative tests; the Harvard Medical School notes that “if you are tested on the day you were infected, your test result is almost guaranteed to come back negative, because there are not yet enough viral particles in your nose or saliva to detect.”
If Biden hypothetically contracted the virus on Tuesday night, he should probably get tested again on Sunday. MIT Medical writes that based on most recent findings, five to seven days from exposure is the optimal window:
…because a false negative is possible at any stage of infection, it’s important to get tested at the optimal time, when you are most likely to test positive if you are infected. Based on our current knowledge, that window would be approximately five to seven days after a probable exposure.
But where was Biden? Let’s see…he went on a train trip on Wednesday through Pennsylvania and Ohio, a chartered personal train, but he brought at least a “few” people (and a reporter) aboard the train.
Joe reportedly has no intention to cut down on trips or socially-distanced events and uh…the campaign plans to send volunteers door knocking, which they have previously pointed out is a bad idea, this weekend.