President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House announced Thursday morning.
The 79-year-old commander-in-chief was experiencing “very mild symptoms,” the White House said. He is able to participate in regular meetings and is taking Paxlovid, officials said.
“This morning, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19,” White House press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms.”
“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 added in the statement. “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. Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.”
White House doctor Kevin O’Connor said in memo that the president is “currently experiencing mild symptoms, mostly rhinorrhea (or ‘runny nose’) and fatigue, with an occasional dry cough, which started yesterday evening.”
First Lady Jill Biden tested negative for the illness, according to her spokesperson.
President Biden just wrapped up a busy four-day trip to the Middle East where he met with Israeli leaders as well as attended a summit of Arab states hosted by Saudi Arabia. During the trip, the president held a controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to persuade the Arab leader to increase oil production and bring down the global price of crude.
During his campaign for president, Biden referred to Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state over its record of human rights abuses. The president’s meeting with Salman was panned by critics who saw Biden’s meeting as a retreat from the president’s tough campaign talk. The criticism focused in on a particularly striking image of Biden greeting the crown prince with a fist bump.
Biden greeted a number of other officials during his trip with fist bumps instead of hand shakes, which the White House suggested was an effort to “minimize contact as much as possible where we can.”
A reporter later asked Biden if he had a response to the criticism he received over his fist bump with Salman, and asked if the president is confident that the Saudi regime would not commit another act similar to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“God love you. What a silly question,” Biden answered, laughing. “How could I possibly be sure of any of that?”