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White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, adjust their masks in the West Wing. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration issued new internal guidance Monday saying it would reduce daily coronavirus testing for White House staff to once a week, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Now that a majority of officials working on the 18-acre complex have been vaccinated, the administration is relaxing some of its coronavirus restrictions — a step closer to normalcy.

Flashback: Unlike during the Trump administration — which had a lackadaisical attitude, sparking COVID-19 outbreaks in the West Wing and after a Rose Garden event — the Biden administration created a bubble around the president during the 2020 campaign that continued through his arrival in the Oval Office.

  • President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were vaccinated prior to being inaugurated.
  • The White House reduced its West Wing staff count, required COVID tests for the employees allowed inside, as well as the routine wearing of N95 masks at all times and social distancing.
  • A week into the job, Biden's medical team had already administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — with the goal of vaccinating all in-person staff within the first few weeks, as Axios first reported.

White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz said the "White House maintains strong COVID-19-related protocols" like mask wearing and social distancing in addition to testing.

  • "Our testing protocol is informed by a range of factors, including an employee’s vaccination status, and is only one of a host of measures in place to mitigate risk in the workplace," Munoz said.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Blockades and ballots: A wild day in the post-Brexit U.K.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

British naval vessels dispatched to break a French blockade, Scottish nationalists attempting to break away from the U.K., and working class voters in the northeast breaking for the Conservatives after voting Labour for six decades.

Why it matters: That was just one day in the topsy turvy reality of post-Brexit Britain.

S.C. governor orders end to federal COVID-related unemployment benefits

Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.