The president, who is 79 years old, is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but the development is certain to trigger concerns about his health given his age. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Biden is taking Paxlovid, an antiviral therapy given to patients with COVID-19.
“This morning, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19. He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms. He has begun taking Paxlovid. Consistent with CDC guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The news came hours before Biden was scheduled to depart Washington for a trip to Pennsylvania to speak about gun violence prevention and attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.
Biden, who has never before tested positive for the virus, returned home from an overseas trip to the Middle East over the weekend and visited Massachusetts on Wednesday for a climate-focused speech.
He has been hosting large gatherings in recent weeks and interacting with supporters on the road as the White House has sought a return to normal despite the pandemic.
Jean-Pierre said Thursday that Biden spoke by phone with members of his staff that morning and that he planned to participate in meetings by phone and Zoom from the White House residence.
She said that Biden would isolate until testing negative for the virus, and that the White House would share daily updates on his health status. Close contacts of Biden will also be notified by the White House medical unit, she said, adding that Biden last tested negative on Tuesday.
Biden joins a growing number of people in the White House who have contracted the virus, including Vice President Harris, who tested positive in April. West Wing officials are widely vaccinated.
Biden is the second president to contract COVID-19. Former President Trump tested positive for the virus in October 2020, before COVID-19 vaccines were available. He was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for three days to receive treatment, and reports since have shown he was sicker than he let on at the time.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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