The Perfect Enemy | Biden tests positive for COVID-19, has ‘very mild’ case: live updates
August 11, 2022

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, has ‘very mild’ case: live updates

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, has ‘very mild’ case: live updates  USA TODAYView Full Coverage on Google News

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, something the White House had taken extra steps to avoid as highly transmissible strains struck top aides, Cabinet members, the president’s chief medical adviser and the vice president.

Biden, 79, is experiencing “very mild” symptoms and is taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

“Folks, I’m doing great,” Biden tweeted midday. “Keeping busy!”

“I just spoke with @POTUS,” Jean-Pierre wrote on Twitter. “He said he feels fine, and he’s working from the residence.”

While Biden’s vaccinations should protect him against serious illness, the infection is a blow to the administration’s efforts to show the president is on top of the pandemic that has disrupted the country for more than two years.

Biden will continue to work at the White House, where he will isolate until he tests negative, according to Jean-Pierre. Daily updates on Biden’s condition will be given during his isolation, she said.

Biden had last been tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, when his result was negative, according to Jean-Pierre.

Another vaccine:CDC unanimously recommends Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for adults

Lawmakers who flew with Biden on AF1 now taking precautions

Biden traveled Wednesday to Somerset, Massachusetts, and several top lawmakers flew aboard Air Force One. In Massachusetts, the president met with top local and state officials.

Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., who posted photos shaking hands with the president and standing by his side, tested negative for COVID ahead of the trip, according to Matt Corridoni, Auchincloss’ spokesman. He added that Auchincloss tested negative for COVID Thursday morning. 

“He is asymptomatic and will continue testing regularly,” Corridoni wrote in a tweet.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is getting tested for the virus on Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson from his office.

Markey is regularly tested and will remain masked and socially distanced per public health guidelines. Markey is double vaccinated and double boosted, according to his office.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is following CDC guidance as a close contact and will remain masked, according to her office. She tested negative for COVID-19 ahead as part of White House protocols.

According to the CDC, close contacts are recommended to test for COVID-19 after five days.

– Rebecca Morin

Psaki: White House was prepared for this

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on MSNBC on Thursday that she wasn’t surprised that Biden contracted COVID and that the White House had been preparing for months for that possibility given the percentage of people in the country who have tested positive.

“Every White House, regardless of whether you’re going through a pandemic or not, is prepared for the president to serve in a variety of places, locations, including recovering from COVID in the White House,” she said.

What the White House must do over the next couple of days, she said, is show Biden working and “show him still active and serving as president. And I’m certain they’ll likely do that.”

Harris tested negative

Vice President Kamala Harris was on Air Force Two traveling to Charlotte, N.C., for events on high speed internet and reproductive rights when news of Biden’s diagnosis broke.

A White House official said in statement that Harris, who had COVID in late April, had tested negative for COVID-19. The official said that Harris last saw the president on Tuesday and spoke to him by phone on Thursday morning. The vice president isn’t altering her schedule, but will stay masked, the official added.

– Francesca Chambers

First lady Jill Biden tested negative

First lady Jill Biden, who is traveling, told reporters she spoke with the president Thursday morning.

“He’s doing fine,” she said. “He’s feeling good.”

The first lady tested negative Thursday morning in Detroit and will continue her full schedule in Michigan and Georgia, said her spokesman, Michael LaRosa.

She will continue following CDC guidelines with masking and social distancing, LaRosa said.

Biden’s symptoms

Biden’s symptoms include a runny nose, fatigue and an occasional dry cough, which started Wednesday evening, according to a letter released by Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s doctor.

O’Connor said he anticipates Biden will respond favorably to Paxlovid, “as most maximally protected patients do.”

Biden’s recent and upcoming trips

Biden traveled Wednesday to Massachusetts, where he announced steps to combat climate change.

He’d been scheduled to visit Pennsylvania on Thursday to talk about boosting law enforcement and reducing gun violence, as well as to attend a fundraiser.

Biden returned Sunday from a four-day trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia, where officials said in advance he would try to “minimize contact” because of the rise in COVID variants. Biden substituted fist-bumps for handshakes in some instances, including his controversial greeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Face masks were required on Air Force One, and passengers were tested for COVID, according to pre-trip guidance. 

Will Biden keep working?  

The White House had acknowledged that Biden could catch the virus as the president balanced potential risks with a return to regular activities.

“I wouldn’t say it’s just a matter of time,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on April 26. “But, of course, it is possible that the president, like any other American, could get COVID.”

Biden’s doctors previously assessed he could continue to carry out his duties if he contracted the virus, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April.

“He has access to the best health care in the world,” Psaki said at the time.

Other notable COVID cases

Psaki herself tested positive in late March, months after a previous bout of COVID.

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive in late April, and second gentleman Doug Emhoff tested positive in March

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is third in line for the presidency, tested positive in April, as did three Cabinet secretaries, several members of Congress and Biden’s sister.

Pelosi said Thursday she hopes Biden’s symptoms “continue to be (light). That was my experience.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, tested positive in June. He later had a rebound infection after taking Paxlovid. 

Vaccines and White House protocols

Biden has been vaccinated, and he received his first booster shot in September and a second at the end of March.

In addition, the White House had gone beyond CDC’s recommended protocols to protect Biden from the virus. Anyone who meets with the president or is traveling with him is tested first. When possible, Biden is also kept socially distanced from others, Psaki previously said. And the president is regularly tested. 

Still, Biden makes risk assessments, “just like many Americans,” when he feels it’s important for him to travel or attend an event in person, Psaki previously said.

“And certainly, that’s one of the reasons we want to be very clear that it is possible he could test positive for COVID,” she said on April 26.

Biden’s age puts him at higher risk

Beyond the vaccines he’s received, Biden could further improve his protection from severe illness by taking Paxlovid, which Harris was prescribed. 

Biden is a relatively high risk for a severe case simply because of his age. On the positive side, he has no other major risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease.

Biden has urged Americans to get vaccinated and to get their booster shots, stressing that those who are protected can feel safer.

“There will be positive cases in every office, even here in the White House,” Biden said in December, when omicron was surging in Washington as he announced new measures to combat the pandemic. 

Other world leaders who have gotten COVID-19 this year include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, Prime Minister Micheál Martin of Ireland, President Andrzej Duda of Poland and President Arif Alvi of Pakistan.

Contributing: Francesca Chambers, Rebecca Morin and Ella Lee.