WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, something the White House had taken extra steps to prevent, as highly transmissible strains hit top advisers, cabinet members and the vice president.
Biden is experiencing “very mild” symptoms and is taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
While Biden’s vaccinations should protect him against serious illness, the infection is a serious blow to the administration’s efforts to show that the president is aware of the pandemic that has gripped the country for more than two years.
Biden will continue to work at the White House, where he will isolate himself until he tests negative, according to Jean-Pierre. Daily updates on Biden’s condition during his isolation will be given, he said.
Biden had last tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday when his result came back negative, according to Jean-Pierre.
The White House had acknowledged that Biden could contract the virus like the the president balanced the potential risks with return to regular activities.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just a matter of time,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on April 26 after Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive. “But of course it’s possible that the president, like any other American, could get COVID.”
Biden’s doctors previously assessed that he could continue to perform his duties if he contracted the virus, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April.
“You have access to the best health care in the world,” Psaki said at the time.
psaki herself tested positive at the end of Marchmonths after a previous COVID episode in October.
Second Knight Doug Emhoff also tested positive in March.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is third in line for the presidency, tested positive in aprilas were three cabinet secretaries, several members of Congress and Biden’s sister.
Joe Biden, 79, has been vaccinated and received his first booster shot in September and a second at the end of march.
Additionally, the White House had gone beyond CDC-recommended protocols to protect Biden from the virus. Anyone who meets with or travels with the president gets tested first. When possible, Biden also stays socially distanced from others, Psaki has previously said. And the president is tested regularly.
Still, Biden does risk assessments, “like many Americans,” when he feels it’s important for him to travel or attend an event in person, Psaki has previously said.
“And certainly, that’s one of the reasons why we want to make it very clear that it’s possible that you could test positive for COVID,” he said on April 26.
Beyond the vaccines he received, Biden could further improve his protection against serious illness by taking tPaxlovid, that Harris was prescribed.
Biden is at relatively high risk of a serious case simply because of his age. On the plus side, she doesn’t have other major risk factors like obesity, diabetes, asthma, or chronic lung disease.
Biden has urged Americans to get vaccinated and get their booster shots, emphasizing that those who are protected can feel safer.
“There will be positive cases in every office, including here in the White House,” Biden said in December, when omicron was on the upswing in Washington announcing new measures to combat the pandemic.
Other world leaders who have contracted COVID-19 this year include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Micheál Martin of Ireland, President Andrzej Duda from Poland and President Arif Alvi from Pakistan.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden tests positive for COVID-19