President Biden tests positive for COVID-19 as US cases rise

President Biden wearing mask in Rose Garden
President Biden wearing mask in Rose Garden

White House, Adam Schultz / Flickr cc

The White House today announced that President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms, a diagnosis that comes amid the spread of the much more transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant.

Biden's doctor, Kevin O'Connor, DO, said routine antigen screening was positive this morning, after which the president said he had mild symptoms that began last night, including a runny nose, fatigue, and an occasional dry cough. A follow-up polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was also positive.

O'Connor said he recommended that Biden, who is fully vaccinated and has received both booster doses, receive the antiviral drug Paxlovid, which the White House said Biden has started.

In a video post on Twitter, Biden said, "I guess you've heard I tested positive for COVID." He said he's doing well and getting a lot of work done. "And in the meantime, thanks your concern, and keep the faith. It's going to be OK."

The White House said Biden will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative for COVID-19.

Yesterday, Biden traveled to Massachusetts to announce new efforts to battle climate change. Last week, he traveled to the Middle East to meet with leaders in that part of the world.

COVID-19 in US, Asia

COVID activity continues to increase, with middle Atlantic, southern, and western states reporting the highest community levels. The 7-day average for new daily cases is still high, at 127,758 cases, according to the New York Times tracker, which indicated that levels are rising in more than 40 states.

In other US developments, Oregon health officials are urging people in 21 counties with high COVID levels to wear masks in indoor public spaces owing to the extreme strain on the hospital system, according to the Associated Press.

Also, the Biden administration said it is creating an independent division that will lead the nation's pandemic response, according to the Washington Post.

The step involves elevating the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, which has a staff of about 1,000 housed at the Department of Health and Human Services. The move is designed to ease bureaucratic delays and will be phased in over 2 years.

In global developments, some locations in Asia are grappling with COVID-19 surges involving the more transmissible Omicron variants, including Hong Kong, where cases are now averaging 4,000 a day, and Japan, where cases in Tokyo are at all-time-high levels, with hospitals feeling pressure.

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