President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. He is currently experiencing mild symptoms, the White House said.
“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,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
The White House’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, reported that as of Thursday morning, Biden did not have a fever – although he was experiencing fatigue, a runny nose, and a dry cough. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the physician to the president, said that Biden’s symptoms began on Wednesday evening. “The president went to bed feeling fine but didn’t sleep well and subsequently tested positive in the morning,” ABC News reported.
Before this morning, Biden had never tested positive for COVID. The President was fully vaccinated, with two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, before his inauguration in January 2021. He then received his first booster shot in September – and a second booster shot on March 30, 2022.
Biden’s Senior Staff Hit with Multiple COVID-19 Cases
Biden is not the only member of his administration dealing with COVID. “A wave of cases among Cabinet members, White House staffers and members of Congress has swept Washington in recent months,” CNN reported.
Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive in the spring, despite also being fully vaccinated and double boosted. She did not experience symptoms.
Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff, also contracted the virus.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
So did domestic policy advisor Susan Rice.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tested positive.
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Attorney General Merrick Garland; former White House press secretary Jen Psaki; Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. White House officials recognized that Biden could very well contract COVID, too.
Biden’s Age and COVID
“The bottom line is [Biden] is vaccinated and boosted. He is very well protected. He’s got very good protocols around him to protect him from getting infected. But there is no 100% anything,” Jha said.
While most people who contract COVID recover, the 79-year-old Biden is in a high-risk demographic. “The risk of developing dangerous symptoms increases with age, with those who are age 85 and older are at the highest risk of serious symptoms. In the U.S., about 81 percent of deaths from the disease have been in people age 65 and older,” the Mayo Clinic reported. Fortunately for Biden, he will receive the world’s most exacting, punctual, and tailored medical care.
“He is going to be closely monitored at the White House by the personal physician of the president, and if anything looks like it is going in the wrong direction, I absolutely expect that he would be hospitalized, if nothing else than for more close observation. But remember, the White House is not like your home or my home – they can do a lot of medical monitoring and observation and testing right there,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said.
Biden has been prescribed Paxlovid, an antiviral pill that Pfizer developed. The Food and Drug Administration approved Paxlovid last December for use in patients aged 12 and up. Patients prescribed Paxlovid take three pills twice daily for five days. Paxlovid’s pill form was celebrated as it was the first COVID treatment that could be administered without an infusion.
“Paxlovid is made up of two medications: ritonavir, commonly used to treat HIV and AIDS, and nirmatrelvir, an antiviral that Pfizer developed to boost the strength of the first drug. Together, they prevent an enzyme the virus uses to make copies of itself inside human cells and spread throughout the body,” ABC reported.
COVID Still Matters
Aside from Biden’s personal infection, COVID is still a relevant policy issue – with the administration still treating COVID like a public health emergency. Currently, the administration is seeking “new funding from Congress for treatments and vaccines,” CNN reported. “The public health emergency declaration allows many Americans to obtain free Covid-19 testing, therapeutic treatment and vaccines.”
Biden is the second consecutive sitting president to test positive for COVID. In October 2020, President Trump tested positive, initiating a media firestorm. Biden’s diagnosis seems to be being met with a more muted response, however. This is a developing story.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.