President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19, the White House said on Thursday.
In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden, who is screened for Covid-19 on a regular basis, tested positive on Thursday morning. She added that the president, who is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two booster shots, has “very mild symptoms” that are being treated with the anti-viral medication Paxlovid.
Ms Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden would follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines by isolating at the White House while carrying 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,” she said. “Consistent with White House protocol for positive COVID cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative”.
Ms Jean-Pierre said the White House would provide daily updates on Mr Biden’s condition “out of an abundance of transparency,” though she stressed that the is continuing to “carry out the full duties of the office” despite being in isolation.
Since Mr Biden took office in January 2021, the possibility that he would contract Covid-19 has been of great concern to his advisers, who until recently have taken great pains to limit his contact with large crowds.
At 79, Mr Biden is the oldest person to be sworn in for a first term as president and is at high risk for severe complications from the virus. But White House officials have said Mr Biden is well-protected by the vaccine and booster doses he has recieved since shortly before he took office.
Mr Biden’s positive test comes amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases due to new variants and sub-variants of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which doctors say are far more contagious than previous iterations and more easily evade the immunity conferred on him by his vaccines and boosters.
The Senate Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reacted to Mr Biden’s positive test by telling reporters: “I’m hoping he gets well soon and doesn’t have any difficulty getting past it”.