In an announcement from the White House on Thursday morning, U.S. President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. The 79-year-old president, who is fully vaccinated and received booster shots in September 2021 and March 2022 per CBS News, has been experiencing "very mild symptoms" and is currently taking Paxlovid, which is an antiviral drug.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said an update regarding the president's health will be provided daily as he "continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation at the White House." Adding how it will be a practice "consistent with CDC guidelines," Jean-Pierre reveals Biden has been in contact with members of the White House staff by phone this morning and will participate in planned meetings via telephone and Zoom from the residence.
Per Insider, Biden's positive test comes four days after an overseas trip to the Middle East speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lipid in Jerusalem and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, and one day after traveling to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where he discussed climate change. The president was scheduled to visit Pennsylvania today for a speech about gun violence and then head to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, where he was expected to stay over the weekend. Those trips have since been canceled per White House spokesperson Chris Meagher. As for First Lady Jill Biden, she tested negative Thursday morning, according to her spokesperson Michael LaRose.
Despite administrative officials and lawmakers reporting infections, the president has continued to travel and attend events while adhering to CDC standards. While numerous Congress members have reported virus cases in recent weeks, many of Biden's inner circle staff have tested positive in recent months, including Vice President Kamala Harris. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been informed of Biden's current health status while on her way to a press conference. Issuing a statement per NBC Congress reporter Kyle Stewart, the speaker said: "I understand that the symptoms are light. I hope they continue to be so. That was my experience. And I hope that that's the case for the president."
The announcement from the White House comes on the heels of breakthrough cases across the U.S. that have become increasingly common with the contagious Omicron variant and its subvariant BA.5. This is the first time Biden has tested positive for COVID-19.