President Joe Biden returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday after five days of strict Covid-19 quarantine, saying he had two negative coronavirus tests over the previous 24 hours.
“My symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick and I’m feeling great,” Biden said in a short speech at the White House before he went back to work in the West Wing. He had been working from the White House residence after contracting Covid last week
White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote in a letter Wednesday that Biden’s symptoms “have been steadily improving, and are almost completely resolved.”
Despite ending his formal isolation period, Biden “continues to be very specifically conscientious to protect any” White House staff, Secret Service agents and others whose duties require proximity to him, O’Connor wrote.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Biden, 79, emphasized the importance of new Covid treatments with greatly improving the prognosis of those who do contract the virus.
“What’s different now is our ability to protect ourselves from serious illness due to Covid. In fact, that’s radically different today than it was just a year ago,” Biden said.
“Covid isn’t gone. But even with cases climbing in this country, Covid deaths are down nearly 90% from when I took office” in January 2021.
O’Connor in his letter Wednesday wrote that Biden had completed a five-day course of the antiviral medication Paxlovid, one of several novel treatment options that have contributed to the huge drop in Covid mortality rates.
“This life saving drug reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 by about 90%,” Biden said of Paxlovid. He added that in many places the drug is “free, safe and easy to take. And we’re moving quickly to make it widely available.”
In his letter Wednesday, however, O’Connor also wrote that given the potential for a rebound in Covid positive results seen “in a small percentage of patients treated with Paxlovid, the President will increase his testing cadence.”
The president Wednesday morning tweeted a photo showing his negative test, with the message: “Back to the Oval. Thanks to Doc for the good care, and to all of you for your support.”
Biden was diagnosed with Covid on Thursday.
The White House that day said the president was experiencing “very mild symptoms.” Biden is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine.