President Biden Tests Positive for COVID-19, White House Says

Biden, who has been vaccinated and twice boosted, is experiencing “very mild” symptoms according to a White House spokesperson.

President Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a White House statement, the president’s symptoms are “very mild.” His illness was discovered during a routine screening, and was reported the morning of July 21. The last test he took for coronavirus was Tuesday, when he had a negative test result, the statement said.

Biden, 79, will continue his presidential work in isolation, using Zoom meetings and telephone calls in place of his usual in-person duties, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The COVID-19 virus can pose added risks to elderly individuals who contract the illness.

The White House says that Biden is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, and has begun taking Paxlovid, the oral antiviral drug that is effective in helping COVID sufferers to avoid hospitalization.

Biden had avoided contracting COVID until now, despite several other administration officials contracting the COVID-19 virus since the Biden Administration took office.  Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, and former press secretary Jen Psaki have all contracted COVID during their tenure.

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The president’s diagnosis comes amid the wave of COVID infections driven by the particularly transmissible BA.5 variant. This latest strain of the virus seems to be more easily spread even among people who have been vaccinated against COVID or who have suffered previous infection.

He returned from a trip to Massachusetts on Wednesday (July 20). The statement explains that the White House Medical Unit will inform all close contacts of the President, namely Members of Congress and any members of the press who interacted with Biden that they may have been exposed.

The Biden White House, in stark contrast with the previous administration, put in place strict coronavirus safety rules for its staff, and maintained those until recently. Biden only stopped masking in public and limiting indoor contacts in March 2022, when U.S. cases dropped to some of the lowest levels in the pandemic’s history.

The Trump Administration was notably cavalier regarding the scientific recommendations around social distancing, masking and vaccination. Although he was vaccinated himself, former President Trump’s inaction in the early months of the pandemic led to many Americans being skeptical of the infectious disease experts’ recommendations.

Public health experts and officials have suggested that COVID-19 should be considered as a long-term issue to be dealt with, much like the seasonal flu.

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