Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19; president experiencing ‘very mild symptoms,’ White House says

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time Thursday morning, his office announced.

Biden, 79, has “very mild symptoms” and is taking Paxlovid, spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Biden is dealing with a dry cough, runny nose and fatigue, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said. The president’s doctor, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said Biden’s symptoms began Wednesday afternoon.

The president went to bed feeling fine, but did not sleep well and then tested positive in the morning, Ja added.

Jean-Pierre said an update would be provided daily as Biden “continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation” at the White House.

SEE ALSO: Why is the BA.5 COVID-19 variant so contagious?

Close contacts, “including any members of Congress and any members of the press who interacted with the President during yesterday’s trip” will be briefed on Thursday, Jean-Pierre said.

Biden traveled to Somerset, Mass., on Wednesday, where he announced executive action to address climate change. Biden delivered his speech outside and met with local officials.

President Joe Biden greets the crowd after speaking on climate change and clean energy at Brayton Power Station, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Somerset, Massachusetts.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The president greeted Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska at the White House on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greet Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

“He was on the phone with members of the White House staff this morning and will participate in his scheduled White House meetings this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence,” Jean-Pierre said.

The president will work in isolation until he tests negative, he said.

Biden was last tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, when he tested negative, he added.

Biden is fully vaccinated and received two boosters. His second booster shot was on March 30.

First Lady Jill Biden tested negative Thursday morning in Detroit and will maintain her full schedule in Michigan and Georgia throughout the day, her office said. She will continue to follow CDC guidelines with covering and distancing, her office said.

Jill Biden said she spoke with the president Thursday morning and said he was “fine” and “feeling good.”

“None of us are immune from this, including the president of the United States, and we have to be careful,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at the weekly news conference.

ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said the biggest factor in treatment will be the president’s age.

“That’s why,” he said, “it’s no surprise that he’s being treated with the antiviral pill Paxlovid. It’s been shown in clinical trials to be 89% effective in reducing the risk of serious illness from COVID-19, meaning hospitalization or death.”

Ashton stressed: “He’s going to be closely monitored in the White House by the president’s personal physician, and if anything looks like he’s going in the wrong direction, I fully expect he’ll be hospitalized, if nothing else for But remember, the White House isn’t like the your house or my house — they can do a lot of medical monitoring and observation and testing right there.”

Former President Donald Trump was briefly hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center in October 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19.

Paxlovid, an antiviral pill developed by Pfizer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people 12 years of age and older in December 2021.

Patients take three pills twice a day for five days. The pill was hailed as a game changer because it was the first COVID-19 treatment that did not require an infusion, making it more convenient to administer to patients.

Paxlovid consists of two drugs: ritonavir, commonly used to treat HIV and AIDS, and nirmatrelvir, an antiviral developed by Pfizer 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.

Although there have been increasing reports of a rebound effect after taking Paxlovid, Ashton said the benefits still outweigh the risks.

“What would be the worst-case scenario if President Biden took Paxlovid and got this so-called recovery effect? ​​Just more time in isolation. The benefits are clear based on the clinical trials of what this drug can do in terms of reducing risk of hospitalization and death, so it’s a simple and easy clinical decision to give him this drug,” he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID-19 in April. Dr. Anthony Faucithe president’s senior adviser on the pandemic, tested positive last month.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

ABC News’ Mary Kekatos and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures.

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Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19; president experiencing ‘very mild symptoms,’ White House says Source link Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19; president experiencing ‘very mild symptoms,’ White House says

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