Biden addresses public from Rose Garden after negative COVID tests, ending isolation

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning and will end “his strict isolation measures,” according to the physician to the president, Dr. Kevin O’Connor.

The negative test comes less than one week after the president’s first positive test on Thursday morning.

Biden finished his five-day course of Paxlovid 36 hours ago, O’Connor wrote in a memo Wednesday morning that was subsequently released by the White House.

“His symptoms have been steadily improving, and are almost completely resolved,” O’Connor wrote.

In remarks later Wednesday morning from the Rose Garden, Biden called his recovery a “real statement of where we are in the fight against COVID-19.”

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“Even if you get COVID, you can avoid winding up with a severe case. You can now prevent most COVID deaths, and that’s because of three free tools the Biden administration has invested in and distributed this past year: booster shots, at-home tests [and] easy-to-use, effective treatments. We got through COVID with no fear, I got through it with no fear, a very mild discomfort because of these essential, life-saving tools,” he said.

“COVID was killing thousands of Americans a day when I got here. That isn’t the case anymore. You can live without fear by doing what I did, get boosted, get tested and get treatment. At the same time, my administration remains vigilant. Right now, we have the tools to keep you from getting severely ill or dying from COVID, but we’re not stopping there,” he added.

His comments mark a continuation of the White House’s message that while the coronavirus is here to stay — something many public health experts have long been warning and fighting against — life can go largely back to normal for many, if not all, Americans.

“Let’s keep emerging from one of the darkest moments of our history with hope and light for what can come,” Biden said.

The president likely had the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant, and his symptoms had included a runny nose, cough, sore throat, a slight fever and body aches. O’Connor never reported any abnormalities in Biden’s pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate or oxygen saturation throughout his infection.

Biden told reporters Monday that all his test results were “good” and “on the button.”

Biden is ending his strict isolation measures after being confined to the White House residence since his diagnosis. He will continue to wear a “well-fitting” mask as needed for 10 days.

He worked while in isolation, posting a photograph on Twitter Monday of him and his dog, Commander, saying he “took some calls this morning with man’s best co-worker.”

The president tweeted a picture of his negative test on Wednesday and said that he’s returning to the Oval Office.

Biden “continues to be very specifically conscientious to protect any of the Executive Residence, White House, Secret Service and other staff whose duties require any (albeit socially distanced) proximity to him,” O’Connor wrote in his memo on Wednesday.

Biden will increase his testing cadence in light of the possibility of a Paxlovid “rebound,” O’Connor wrote, referring to a seemingly rare but increasingly reported phenomenon in which COVID symptoms recur or there is the development of a new positive viral test after having tested negative.

The president is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots, but at the age of 79 was considered to be at a higher risk for severe illness.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, stressed after Biden’s diagnosis that all Americans should take advantage of vaccinations and treatments courses.

“This is a president who’s double-vaccinated, double-boosted, getting treatments that are widely available to Americans and has at this moment a mild respiratory illness,” Jha told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “This is really good news, and this is both vaccines and treatments that are available to everyone. Really important that people go out and get vaccinated and avail themselves of these treatments if they get infected.”

First lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both tested negative for COVID-19 after spending time with the president before his diagnosis.

ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, Alexandra Hutzler and Arielle Mitropoulos contributed to this report.

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