President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 symptoms remained mild as of late Thursday and he continues to convalesce at the White House, a top adviser told CNN on Friday.
“I got an update last night at 10:00 p.m. and he was doing just fine,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, during an interview with John Berman on CNN’s “New Day.” Jha added that he would touch base with the White House medical team and speak with the President “directly this morning.”
Biden’s symptoms, Jha said, were “basically the same” as of Thursday night.
“The symptoms were basically the same – again, he’s got a little runny nose, he’s got a bit of a dry cough,” Jha said.
Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, becoming the second US president to contract the virus during the two-and-a-half year pandemic. In a video posted to Twitter, Biden told Americans that he is “doing well” and that he was continuing to work while in isolation at the White House.
The President is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, and has been prescribed Paxlovid – Pfizer’s antiviral drug – because his advanced age makes him high-risk for experiencing severe illness. Biden is 79 years old.
But to this point, Biden has only experienced mild symptoms, according to a statement from White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor and a briefing from Jha and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday. The duo is expected to speak to reporters again Friday afternoon.
Jha said they still “don’t know much” about where the President contracted the virus but said that tracing was underway for any close contacts of the President. He said he was not aware of any subsequent cases. First lady Jill Biden, who is considered a close contact but has tested negative, will stay in Delaware through the weekend and “following (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines,” he said.
Asked again whether any of Biden’s symptoms were getting worse, Jha told CNN, “Nope. As of 10:00 p.m. last night, no. it was the same symptoms, about the same level of mildness. But I’ll check in with them (the White House medical unit) this morning, I’ll check in with him this morning.”
Jha downplayed concerns that the White House press corps has yet to be briefed directly by Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, after one journalist at Thursday’s briefing said the White House is playing a game of telephone.
“Dr. O’Connor is his personal physician. You have heard from Dr. O’Connor in the letter. We are fully committed to transparency here. You’re going to hear every day from Dr. O’Connor through written communication. He was going to put out his own statement with this assessment of how the president’s doing,” he said.
He said that many officials are in contact with Biden and “the American people will have a very full complete picture of how the President is doing.”
Pressed again by Berman on whether there were plans to make O’Connor available to the press or the public, Jha said that O’Connor “is going to be sharing his information” and that a “variety of administration officials” would share information.
White House officials have been preparing for months for what many viewed as the inevitability that Biden would come down with Covid.
A wave of cases has swept Washington through the spring and summer and as more and more of his top officials and members of his family contracted Covid, officials came to believe it was possible the President himself would get sick, even as they took steps to shield him from the virus.
Officials had a loose plan in place for the day Biden tested positive, including informing the public when the tests were confirmed and releasing a letter from Biden’s physician – which both took place on Thursday.