WASHINGTON — Covid-19 symptoms left President Joe Biden hoarse and coughing as he met with his top economics team Friday via video conference. But the president tried to strike a reassuring tone, saying: ‘I feel a lot better than I sound’.
Biden took off a mask and drank water as he opened the meeting to discuss falling gas prices in recent weeks. Reporters were allowed into a White House auditorium to view a few minutes of the proceedings, and when asked how Biden was feeling, he gave a thumbs up.
The president’s doctors said his mild covid symptoms were improving and he was responding well to treatment, as the White House scrambled to project the image of a president still in office despite his illness. He received his daily presidential security briefing via video call.
Biden had a high temperature of 99.4 F on Thursday, but that went down with Tylenol, according to a new note from Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s personal physician. Biden also used an inhaler a few times but did not experience shortness of breath.
The president has completed his first full day of Paxlovid, the antiviral therapy treatment intended to reduce the severity of covid. Her main symptoms were a runny nose, fatigue and a wet cough. Other parameters, such as pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation, were normal, O’Connor said.
“The president is doing better,” White House covid-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, who spoke with the president via video call, said during a Friday briefing with reporters.
Jha said Biden would remain in isolation in the White House living quarters for five days and then be tested again. He plans to return to work once he tests negative.
After Biden tested positive on Thursday, the White House swung into action, aiming to dispel any notion of a crisis and turn its diagnosis into what Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, said he hoped to be a “teachable moment”.
The White House on Friday released a photo of Biden masked in the treaty room of the president’s residence on the phone with his national security advisers.
Jha said his hoarse voice might actually be a sign that he is improving rather than the alternative. However, conveying this sentiment has not always been easy.
During the two briefings since the president’s diagnosis, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has repeatedly parried with reporters on details.
She bristled with suggestions that the Biden administration was not much more open to information about the president’s illness than that of his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Jean-Pierre said 17 people were determined to have been in close contact with Biden when he might have been infectious, including members of his senior staff. None tested positive, she said.
First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were also in close contact with Biden, and Klain said he was too, but the White House has not released the names of the others, citing privacy concerns. privacy.
Biden’s case is a priority, and Jha said Friday it will likely be next week for sequencing to determine which virus variant Biden contracted. Omicron’s highly contagious BA.5 substrain is responsible for 78% of new covid-19 infections reported in the United States last week, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Tuesday.