President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and his doctors said the 79-year-old leader is experiencing only mild fatigue and will be isolating at the White House while on duty.
Mr Biden, who posted a photo of him working at his desk, that he was “doing great” – and apologized for missing a scheduled event in Pennsylvania.
He also released a short video clip, filmed on the balcony of the White House, which reads: “I really appreciate all your questions and concerns, but I’m fine … everything will be fine.”
In announcing Mr. Biden’s diagnosis, the White House emphasized that the president had been fully vaccinated and twice revaccinated, and said he had “very mild symptoms.”
It said Mr. Biden was taking Pfizer Paxlovid antiviral pills, used to minimize the severity of COVID-19.
“In accordance with the recommendations of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), he will be isolated in the White House and will continue to fully perform all his duties during this time,” the statement said.
Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, wrote in a memo that the president has been suffering from fatigue, a runny nose and a dry cough since Wednesday evening.
Dr. O’Connor added that the president had a positive rapid antigen test Thursday morning before the result was confirmed by a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
“I spoke to him just a few minutes ago. He’s fine, he’s doing well,” First Lady Jill Biden, who tested negative, told reporters while visiting a school in Michigan.
Biden is reported to be in good general health, but his advanced age will heighten concerns about the impact of COVID-19.
Politically, he is going through a difficult period in his presidency as he faces a midterm election in November that is predicted to be painful for his Democratic Party, as well as declining personal approval ratings.
According to the latest polls, his ratings hit a new low: only 31 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way he runs the country.
Mr. Biden planned to spend more time in the United States in the coming weeks after a period of intense travel abroad, including a NATO summit in Spain and a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia.
He is now expected to stay at the White House for several days.
The CDC, the lead US government health agency, reports that older adults are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, with the risk increasing with age.
A highly transmissible sub-variant of Omicron BA.5 is now causing a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the United States, where hospitalizations have doubled in recent months.
The country is registering about 130,000 new cases every day, but this figure is believed to be a significant underestimate due to the increased use of home tests, the results of which are usually not reported to the authorities.
Upon taking office, Mr. Biden committed to abide by strict COVID-19 protocols, hold socially distancing or Zoom meetings, and wear a mask at public events — unlike his predecessor, Donald Trump.
While other members of Biden’s family and many of his close advisers contracted the virus, the president did not have COVID until Thursday.
Mr. Trump tested positive for the coronavirus in October 2020 — in the midst of a fierce election race, he ultimately lost to Biden.
The news that he and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19 came as a shocking development at a time when the pandemic was still spreading around the world.
Trump, who was 74 at the time, was transferred to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent the weekend and underwent various procedures. Three days later he returned to the White House.
Mr. Biden last tested negative on Tuesday, and his officials vowed to provide daily updates on his health “out of total transparency.”
Following Mr. Biden’s positive result, the White House said Vice President Kamala Harris, who contracted COVID-19 back in April, had tested negative.
Good wishes came from American politicians due to the sharp division of the country, as well as from abroad.
“Wishing you… a speedy recovery from #COVID19. Be strong! Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, tweeted.
“Wishing President Biden a speedy recovery from COVID,” said leading US Republican Lindsey Graham.