President Joe Biden was diagnosed with Covid-19 this morning, the White House said. He is the second successive president to contract the virus which over the past two-and-a-half years has upended global economies and ushered in a new era of health precautions.
Biden is “experiencing very mild symptoms” and will keep working, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement that was provided to The Root. Biden is fully-vaccinated and has received two booster shots, she said. He is being treated with Paxlovid, which Yale Medicine describes as an “oral antiviral pill that can be taken at home to help keep high-risk patients from getting so sick that they need to be hospitalized.”
Biden is 79 years of age, putting him in a demographic group considered at high risk for serious complications from the virus. He will be isolated at the White House residence where he will continue working and has been incontact with his staff and will attend meetings via Zoom, Jean-Pierre said.
The administration did not say where it believes Biden contracted the virus, which is known to spread via close proximity to others who are infected. It’s also unclear whether Biden has the highly-contagious Omicron BA.5 variant of the virus, which is blamed for a dramatic increase in reported cases and hospitalizations around the country in recent weeks and is now the dominant Covid-19 strain in the United States.
Biden’s White House predecessor, former president Donald Trump, also contracted Covid-19 while he was in office in October 2020. He was transported by helicopter from the White House to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for three days while receiving treatment.
It doesn’t appear that Biden’s diagnosis will immediately impact the duties of Vice President Kamala Harris. There is a protocol for a temporary transfer of power from the president to the vice president in the event the president is incapacitated. That actually happened last November 19, when Biden was placed under anesthesia for a routine colonoscopy, making Harris the first woman in the nation’s history to temporarily hold the power of the presidency.