On his second day of having COVID-19, President Biden is feeling better, slept well and is cleaning his plate, the White House said Friday, presenting a picture of a president on the mend from what was once a dangerously deadly diagnosis.
Presidential press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said they had spoken with Biden via FaceTime, and “the president is doing better,” Jha told reporters Friday.
“He slept well last night. He ate breakfast and lunch. He showed me the plate!” Jha joked, adding that Biden himself quipped that he was sorry his appetite had not been affected by the virus.
“He was, he is, in a very good mood,” Jha said, adding that he also talked to Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, several times Friday to get updates.
Mostly, Jha and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, the president hopes his experience will encourage more Americans to get vaccinated and to get boosters if it is warranted. Federal health agency guidelines recommend boosters for people 50 and older.
“We are now at a point, I believe, where we could prevent every COVID death in America” if more people got inoculated, Jha said. He added that all Americans are eligible for the “world class” treatment Biden is receiving at the White House and which both Jha and Jean-Pierre said were responsible for his improvement.
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
O’Connor said in a letter released by the White House on Friday morning that the president was doing much better. Biden’s temperature was slightly elevated, at 99.4 degrees,Thursday evening, O’Connor said, but the president’s temperature dropped to normal and stayed there after he was given Tylenol.
Biden had a deeper voice Friday morning and still has a runny nose, fatigue and a “loose” cough, O’Connor said. But the president’s blood pressure, oxygen level, respiratory rate and pulse remain at normal levels, he said.
Biden is off his blood thinners and cholesterol medication while he is taking Paxlovid, a prescription drug used to treat coronavirus patients considered at high risk for serious illness, the doctor said. Jha said Thursday that Biden was being given the drug because of his age, adding that any COVID-19 patient over the age of 50 is a good candidate for it.
O’Connor said Biden was “tolerating treatment well,” and would continue the course of Paxlovid as planned.
“The President is fully vaccinated and twice-boosted, so I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do. There has been nothing in the course of his illness so far which gives me cause to alter that initial expectation,” O’Connor added.
The president is taking low-dose aspirin and has used an asthma inhaler a couple of times to deal with his cough, Jha said. Biden has an inhaler but has not used it since he had a cold last year, Jha said.
While Biden has what is described as mild symptoms and appears on the road to recovery, the White House is taking pains to present an image of a president toiling away – if in isolation – for the American public.
Friday afternoon, the president appeared at a virtual briefing on gas prices, lauding the steady drop in the cost at the pump and discussing other ways to increase production and get oil companies to invest their profits instead of using them to buy back stock.
He said companies sitting on nearly 10,000 oil and gas leases should be subject to a “use or or lose it” rule – that they eventually lose the lease if they let it sit idle.
Biden’s voice was mildly gravelly.
“I apologize for my voice. I’m feeling much better than I sound,” Biden said, giving a thumbs-up when a reporter asked how he was feeling.
Friday morning the White House posted photos of the president – in a suit and wearing a mask – signing bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing the availability of infant formula and speaking with his national security team.
Biden also put out myriad statements, including one condemning the physical attack on Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican running for governor of New York, at a campaign speech earlier this week. Biden also issued a proclamation on Made in America Week, and continued a national emergency regarding the situation in Mali.
The White House does not know how or where the president contracted the virus but has informed 17 people who were in close contact with him, Jean-Pierre said. She did not identify those individuals, citing patient privacy.