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Biden tests positive for Covid: live updates

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Biden tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, raising health concerns for the 79-year-old president and underlining that the virus remains an ongoing threat in a country trying to stop the past pandemic.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that Mr. Biden was “fully vaccinated and twice boosted and had very mild symptoms.”

dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s physician, said in a letter from the White House that Mr. Biden was suffering from fatigue, a runny nose and an occasional dry cough.

“I expect he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do,” wrote Dr. O’Connor.

The president is receiving Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to minimize the severity of Covid-19, Ms Jean-Pierre said. He will isolate himself in the White House but “continue to fully perform all of his duties during that time,” she said.

Mr Biden posted a tweet in the afternoon saying he “did well” and “keep busy!”

In a short video posted on TwitterBiden thanked people for their concern and said he “did a good job, got a lot of work done”. In the video, Mr. Biden is shown at a balcony overlooking the South Lawn of the White House, wearing a suit but no tie.

“Keep the faith,” Mr Biden says in the video. “It’ll be fine.”

He was due to fly to Pennsylvania on Thursday to give a talk on gun violence and then travel to his home in Wilmington, Del., for the weekend. White House officials said both trips had been canceled.

dr. Ashish K. Jha, Mr Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said at a White House briefing that he believed the president was not at serious risk of serious illness as he is fully aware of his vaccines and Paxlovid. used .

“Because the president is fully vaccinated and double boosted, his risk of serious illness is dramatically lower,” said Dr. Jha, adding, “Our expectation is that he will have a mild illness.”

Mr. Biden will be in isolation at the White House residence for five days, said Dr. Jha, and will not resume normal activities until he tests negative.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was last with the president on Tuesday, tested negative, the White House said. Jill Biden, the first lady, also tested negative on Thursday morning, said Michael LaRosa, her spokesman. Mrs. Harris and Dr. Biden also received two boosters.

The president’s diagnosis was a moment his aides had been preparing for years. As a 2020 candidate, Biden took extraordinary measures to avoid getting sick, holding “drive-in rallies” and avoiding the personal events that characterized life on the campaign trail.

As president, he remained severely isolated during his first months in office as the virus took hold. The number of employees he had contact with was limited. Members of the news media and others were regularly tested. Mr. Biden and his staff wore masks at all times.

More recently, however, as the number of people vaccinated increased and many Americans shook off concerns about the pandemic, the president largely resumed regular activities. Last week he returned from Israel and Saudi Arabia, where he shook hands and embraced many world leaders.

At home, Mr. Biden rarely wears a mask and has hosted busy events at the White House, even as the country grapples with a series of cases of new sub-variants that are highly contagious and can more easily evade vaccine protection.

His advisers say he has adhered to CDC and District of Columbia guidelines.

In her statement, Ms. Jean-Pierre said officials would inform any members of Congress, journalists or others deemed to be in close contact with the president on Wednesday while traveling to Massachusetts.

“In accordance with the White House protocol for Covid positive cases, which goes beyond CDC guidelines, he will continue to operate in isolation until he tests negative,” she said in the statement. “Once he tests negative, he will return to personal work.”

Mr. Biden is tested regularly. His last test was on Tuesday, when he had a negative result, officials said on Thursday.

It was unclear exactly how he became infected, and White House officials declined to provide detailed information about who he had been in contact with in recent days. It is difficult to determine exactly how or when someone contracted the virus.

Mr Biden had a series of close calls before becoming infected. In March, he attended a gala event with Prime Minister Michael Martin of Ireland, who left after testing positive.

Mr. Biden also attended the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in May, and a number of those in attendance subsequently tested positive, including Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

Mr Biden and his top officials have urged people to get vaccinated and get boosters. The vaccine is very effective in preventing people from becoming seriously ill or dying, even when breakthrough infections occur.

The president and Democratic lawmakers have urged Republicans in Congress to approve coronavirus emergency funds to help the United States buy new vaccines and therapies.

Mr Biden is the second president to be infected with the coronavirus. In October 2020, President Donald J. Trump tested positive and was taken by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he received steroids and other treatments.

Trump and his aides downplayed his symptoms at the time, but later reporting revealed that he was very ill.

Noah Weiland and Katie Rogers reporting contributed.


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