President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House announced Thursday. The White House has been taking extra steps to prevent the 79-year-old, who is at risk of severe illness, from contracting COVID as highly transmissible strains have affected top aides, cabinet members, the president’s chief medical adviser, and the vice president.
“This morning, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19. He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “He has begun taking Paxlovid. Consistent with CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.”
Biden’s symptoms include a runny nose, fatigue and an occasional dry cough, which started Wednesday evening, according to a letter released by Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor.
O’Connor anticipates that Biden will respond favorably to Paxlovid, “as most maximally protected patients do.”
“Consistent with White House protocol for positive COVID cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative,” Jean-Pierre added. “Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.”
This is the first time Biden has tested positive for COVID-19, and he last tested negative on Tuesday, per Jean-Pierre. Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden have tested negative on Thursday.
She added that the White House will provide a daily update on his condition “out of an abundance of transparency.” The White House Medical Unit will also inform all close contacts of Biden of his exposure during the day Thursday, including members of Congress and the media who interacted with him on Wednesday, Jean-Pierre added.
The 79-year-old had just returned from a far-ranging diplomatic trip to the Middle East. Elderly people are considered to be more vulnerable to severe COVID than younger folks.
The pandemic is still raging
The news comes as the United States has seen coronavirus cases spike as the BA.5 subvariant takes over the country. The highly contagious subvariant, which appears to be the best yet at eluding the power of vaccines against infection, now accounts for nearly 80% of all U.S. cases.
If anything, the President of the United States contracting COVID is an important reminder that anyone can get COVID. Despite the recent loosening of restrictions, no one is immune, which means we need to be extra cautious.
“Certainly I send the best wishes and prayers to President Joseph Biden and his family with his recent COVID-19 diagnosis. As a physician, I must also use this opportunity to remind ALL Americans, and indeed the world that the pandemic is still raging and the BA.5 variant. COVID is