U.S. President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 but is only “experiencing very mild symptoms,” the White House announced Thursday.
In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the fully vaccinated and twice boosted Biden, 79, has begun taking the anti-viral drug Paxlovid and is working from the White House residence rather than the Oval Office.
Biden tweeted, “Folks, I’m doing great. Thanks for your concern.” He said he is “keeping busy,” but had called two Pennsylvania lawmakers and the Scranton mayor “to send my regrets for missing our event today” in the northeastern state.
Jean-Pierre said that consistent with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control, Biden “will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.”
“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” Jean-Pierre added.
The statement said Biden will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative.
First lady Jill Biden tested negative for the coronavirus, the White House said.
She tweeted, “I’m on the road in Detroit today, but I spoke to Joe earlier and he’s feeling fine, just experiencing a few mild symptoms. This morning, I tested negative for COVID-19. I’ll continue to follow CDC guidance and wear a mask.”
The president’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor from the George Washington University medical school near the White House, said the chief executive’s positive reading was first detected by antigen testing and then confirmed by the more exacting Polymerase Chain Reaction test.
O’Connor said Biden has a runny nose and fatigue, with an occasional dry cough, which started Wednesday evening.
The physician said that since Biden is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, “I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do. Early use of Paxlovid in this case provides additional protection against severe disease.”
The virus in the U.S. has affected millions of people and killed more than one million. Biden has gone to considerable lengths to protect himself against the disease, often, but not always, wearing a face mask. Former president Donald Trump also contracted the disease and was hospitalized toward the end of his four-year term. Vaccines were not available when Trump was infected.
Now, the highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5 is rifling through the country and about 100,000 new cases are being reported every day.