Biden tests negative for Covid and will end isolation

WASHINGTON — President Biden returned to the Oval Office with triumphant flair on Wednesday after testing negative for Covid-19, boasting that his mild case was proof of the progress his administration had made in stemming the pandemic.

The president’s staff held a sort of pep rally in the Rose Garden to celebrate the end of his five-day isolation, welcoming Mr Biden to the pulpit with a rendition of “Hail to the Chief” and a roar of cheers. Wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, the president removed his mask and declared his personal victory over the coronavirus.

“Fortunately, thank God, God willing, my symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick and I feel great,” Biden said in late morning remarks broadcast and livestreamed. “During the entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work, perform office tasks without any interruption. It’s a real statement on where we are in the fight against Covid-19. »

Mr Biden, who at 79 is the oldest president in American history, appeared energetic and optimistic. He coughed at one point during his brief remarks, as he often did before he had Covid, and stumbled over the name of the medicine he had been taking, as he sometimes does with certain words. His return to work in person was much easier and less dramatic than when President Donald J. Trump contracted the virus in the fall of 2020, before vaccines became available, a contrast Mr. Biden himself has raised.

“When my predecessor had Covid, he had to be airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center,” Mr Biden said. “He was seriously ill. Fortunately, he recovered. When I had Covid, I worked upstairs in the White House, in the upstairs offices, for the five-day period. The difference is vaccinations, of course, but also three new tools that are free for everyone and widely available. You don’t have to be president to get these tools to use in your defense.

Mr Biden named those tools as the widespread availability of booster shots, home testing and treatments such as the antiviral drug Paxlovid that he took. He also took the opportunity to urge Americans to go to Covid.gov to learn more about these tools.

“Covid was killing thousands of Americans a day when I got here,” Mr Biden said. ” That’s not the case here. You can live without fear by doing what I did. Get boosted, get tested, get cured.

The president’s recovery comes as the new, more contagious BA.5 subvariant is spreading rapidly in some communities, even infecting people who have recently had Covid and were previously thought to have increased immunity, at least temporarily. But while cases are on the rise, deaths have remained lower than before, rising to more than 400 a day from around 300 a day. The average was more than 3,000 a day during Mr Biden’s inauguration.

Mr. Biden’s return to office came shortly after Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the White House physician, reported that he had tested negative on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The president’s symptoms of Covid-19 have been ‘almost completely resolved’, Dr O’Connor wrote in a memo, but Mr Biden will continue to wear a properly fitted mask for the next 10 days when surrounded other people.

“He remains fever-free and he has stopped using acetaminophen (Tylenol) within the past 36 hours,” Dr. O’Connor said.

Early in his presidency, Mr Biden took extraordinary precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19, spending much of the first few months away from many of his staff. He did not travel and conducted most of his business via video calls.

But the White House dropped many of those precautions as vaccines became widely available. In recent months, the president has resumed a full travel schedule, stopped wearing a mask in most cases, and hosted crowded in-person events.

Dr. O’Connor said in his letter that the president was at some risk of what doctors call a “Paxlovid rebound,” in which some patients experience a return of symptoms after testing negative. He said the president would be tested more frequently than usual as a result.

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