President Joe Biden is experiencing “very mild symptoms” after testing positive Thursday for COVID-19, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
In a memorandum shared by the White House, the president’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said Biden began to experience symptoms of the viral infection on Wednesday evening. Biden’s symptoms include a runny nose, fatigue and an occasional dry cough.
“Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern,” the president said in a post on social media. “Keeping busy!”
The 79-year-old president is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots, Jean-Pierre said. He has begun taking Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment developed by Pfizer that is aimed at reducing the severity of the disease.
“Consistent with (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,” Jean-Pierre said. “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.”
Officials said Biden plans to work in isolation until he tests negative for COVID-19.
The president last tested negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Jean-Pierre said officials with the White House Medical Unit will tell people who had recent close contact with the president, including members of Congress and the news media, about his diagnosis.
Officials said Vice President Kamala Harris, who was last with the president on Tuesday, has tested negative for COVID-19. First lady Jill Biden told reporters on Thursday that she has also tested negative for COVID-19.
Biden is the second president to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Former President Donald Trump, who was in office at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, tested positive for the viral infection in October 2020.
Several other world leaders have also gotten COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and others.
“Because the president is fully vaccinated -- double boosted -- his risk of serious illness is dramatically lower. He’s also getting treated with a very powerful anti-viral, and that further reducing his risk of serious illness,” White House COVID Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a reminder of the reason that we all work so hard to make sure that every American has the same level of protection that the president has. That every American has the same level of immunity and why we have worked so hard to make sure that people have access to life-saving treatments like Paxlovid.”
As of last week, the most recent date for which data was available, more than 78% of the U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just over 67% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, and more than 48% of those who have been fully vaccinated have gotten at least one booster shot, CDC data shows.
Since the start of the pandemic, officials have reported more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 nationwide, resulting in over 1 million deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, 566.9 million cases have been reported, resulting in 6.3 million deaths, according to the university.
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