White House Doctor Says Joe Biden Shows Improvement After Covid Diagnosis – Update

4TH UPDATE, SUNDAY AM:  President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 “symptoms continue to improve significantly,” the President’s physician wrote in a Sunday letter.

Biden’s “predominant symptom now is sore throat,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor said. Other symptoms“have diminished considerably,” O’Connor said.

Biden will continue being treated with Paxlovid, and will continue to isolate.

In addition to previously noted symptoms of a dry cough, runny nose and fatigue, O’Connor indicated in a letter released today that Biden also has a sore throat and body aches, two common symptoms of the virus.

The White House physician indicated that Biden was most likely hit by the BA.5 variant driving cases across the nation. He also said that the president is taking Paxlovid.

2ND UPDATE, June 21, 11:33 AM: President Joe Biden said that he was “doing well” and “getting a lot of work done” in a new video posted by the White House, just hours after he tested positive for Covid.

“Thanks for your concern, and keep the faith. It’s going to be okay,” Biden said in the short spot, shot on the Truman Balcony on the south side of the White House.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden was experiencing “very mild symptoms,” and his personal physician said they included a dry cough, runny nose and fatigue. Biden is isolating and his schedule of events in Pennsylvania on Thursday were canceled.

“Because the president is fully vaccinated and double boosted, his risk of serious illness is dramatically lower,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who is leading the administration’s Covid response, told reporters. He said that risk is further diminished by Biden’s treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

He said that they do not know yet what kind of Covid variant Biden has, but testing is being done. Biden is being monitored for symptoms and his oxygen level is normal. He indicated that Biden would be isolating for five days and could return to public events when he tests negative.

A number of reporters were wearing masks in the briefing room, even though they are no longer required.

When a reporter asked where Biden was when he was infected, Jean-Pierre said, “I don’t think that matters. What matters is we prepared for this moment.” Jean-Pierre and Jha tried to put Biden’s diagnosis into the larger context of the administration’s progress in battling the Covid epidemic, as they noted that vaccinations have greatly reduced the risk of serious illness and hospitalization. But reporters continued to press on the question of how Biden contracted the virus.

UPDATED, 9:30 AM June 21: The White House just posted a photo of President Joe Biden at his desk after he tested positive for Covid on Thursday.

“Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern. Just called Senator Casey, Congressman Cartwright, and Mayor Cognetti (and my Scranton cousins!) to send my regrets for missing our event today. Keeping busy!”

Biden was to visit Pennsylvania but plans were canceled as he isolates at the White House.

PREVIOUSLY: President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid and is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” the White House announced on Thursday.

Biden’s positive diagnosis may underscore the highly infectious nature of the latest Covid variant, although it is unclear what strand of the virus he may have contracted.

The White House has been particularly cautious about testing those who are in close contact with Biden. Still, the president has kept a very public schedule that includes public events, at the White House and elsewhere. He had planned to travel to Pennsylvania today for a speech on the new gun safety law and to attend a fundraiser.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “This morning, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19.  He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms. He has begun taking Paxlovid. Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time. He has been in contact with members of the White House staff by phone this morning, and will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence.”

Jean-Pierre said that “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. Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.”

The press secretary said that they will provide a daily update on Biden’s status, while the medical unit will inform the president’s close contacts of his positive case.

“The President’s last previous test for COVID was Tuesday, when he had a negative test result,” Jean-Pierre said.

First Lady Jill Biden, who was in Detroit, told reporters that she tested negative Thursday morning. She said that she talked to her husband and “he’s doing fine. He’s feeling good.” A White House official said that Vice President Kamala Harris, who was with Biden on Tuesday, also tested negative.

Dr. Ashish Jha, who is leading the administration’s Covid response, told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond that Biden did not have a fever this morning, but has a runny nose and some fatigue. Biden has been vaccinated and double boosted, but at 79, he is in a higher risk category for serious complications.

A letter was released from the president’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who said that Biden tested positive in an antigen test and then a PCR test. He said that Biden also was experiencing “an occasional dry cough,” which started on Wednesday evening. (Read his letter here.)

Biden’s positive diagnosis is not a complete surprise, even with measures. In recent months, figures like Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, have tested positive for Covid, and even last year White House officials seemed to be preparing reporters for the possibility that the president would contract the virus.

Broadcast networks broke into regular programming with the news, with NBC News up at 10:32 a.m. ET, ABC News at 10:35 and CBS News at 10:42. Jen Psaki, the former White House press secretary who has contracted Covid twice, called into MSNBC from a Barnes and Noble parking lot, in what was her first appearance since her new role as a contributor on the network was announced.

“Every day you are making risk assessments about whether you are exposing yourself or not,” Psaki said. “He got that extra booster. That is something that obviously the CDC and health experts recommend every American do. But in addition to that, he knows was wants to still engage and interact with people across the country.”


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