Biden takes extra meds to treat Covid symptoms, but White House doctor says he’s improving

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Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that Biden had a temperature of 99.4 degrees Thursday night, which was treated with Tylenol. His temperature has remained normal since then, according to Covid response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha.

Biden, who suffered from asthma when he was younger, is being treated with an albuterol inhaler “which he uses as needed,” O’Connor added, as well as “oral hydration.” The president has used the inhaler a few times since testing positive, Jha said at Friday’s White House press conference, adding that Biden last used an inhaler last fall. when he had a cold.

Friday’s letter says Biden is suffering from a runny nose, fatigue and what O’Connor described as “an occasional non-productive, now ‘loose’ cough.”

O’Connor has yet to publicly answer questions about Biden’s illness and Jha, who has not personally examined the president, was instead left to answer medical questions about his condition. Jha said he spoke with the president in a video call on Friday and spoke at length with O’Connor.

The president continues to take Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral drug. Biden previously stopped using his prescribed medications, Crestor and Eliquis, “during Paxlovid treatment and for several days after his last dose.” In order to prevent a drug interaction, certain drugs like Crestor and Eliquis are avoided during Paxlovid treatments.

O’Connor reiterated in his Friday letter that he anticipates “(Biden) will respond favorably” to the treatment. Biden will continue to self-isolate and be “closely” monitored by the White House medical unit.

On Friday, Biden continued to work, ate breakfast and lunch, and is in “very good spirits,” officials told reporters during the White House briefing.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden said on FaceTime that he wanted the American people to know “he’s still working more than eight hours a day and he wants to call back Americans to get vaccinated.”

Jha relayed during the briefing Biden is in good spirits, slept better Thursday night and was eating full meals.

“He showed me his plate,” Jha said.

However, he was unable to convey specific information such as Biden’s oxygen levels or his latest temperature, saying only that the president is within normal ranges.

Some members of the White House press corps have called on the White House to take additional transparency measures in the wake of Biden’s Covid diagnosis, including having Biden’s doctor appear on camera for a briefing and releasing specific vital numbers.

Jha on CNN’s “New Day” on Friday morning defended the White House’s communication with the public since Biden’s positive Covid case.

“You heard Dr. O’Connor in the letter. We are fully committed to transparency here. You are going to hear from Dr. O’Connor every day in written communication. He was going to issue his own statement with this assessment of how the president gets away with it,” he said.

On Friday, Jean-Pierre would not commit to O’Connor briefing reporters while Biden has Covid.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser who served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for decades, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday that he was “unaware of the decision on who is going to be over there talking.”

“I think they think, given the questions being asked, the combination of having someone like Dr. Jha or myself talking with the doctor, who is the lead doctor, is pretty good,” said said Fauci, noting that this could still currency.

Fauci told Blitzer he was “in very close contact” with O’Connor and that Biden is “really doing great.”

Fauci last month tested positive for Covid-19. Like Biden, he was also dealt with Paxlovid.

“He still has symptoms, but it’s getting better,” Fauci said of Biden. “We expect that, given that he is vaccinated, that he will be double-boosted and that he will take a very effective antiviral drug, Paxlovid, which clearly has a very good track record of preventing people from progressing to serious illness. And that’s the reason why while there’s never any guarantee, we’re quite optimistic that the president is already on the road to recovery.”

White House work continues

Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday morning, becoming the second US president to contract the virus during the two-and-a-half-year pandemic. He continues to recover and work in isolation within the White House residence.

On Friday afternoon, Biden appeared virtually during a meeting with his economics team on gas prices, telling his team he feels better than he looks.

“Let me start by apologizing for my voice, I feel a lot better than I sound,” Biden said at the top of his remarks before moving on to gas prices. The president showed a deep voice in the video and was heard coughing as his advisers briefed. He also had a pack of cough drops on his desk, which he reached after coughing.

Reporters, who were in the White House South Court auditorium with the rest of the economics team at the meeting, asked Biden how he was feeling, to which he responded with a smile and a thumbs up.

Biden held a call with his national security team on Friday morning. And he also received a written message from President Xi Jinping of China “wishing him all the best” for his recovery from Covid-19, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said.

Kirby also told reporters that Biden’s illness had no impact on US national security decision-making.

In a series of updates Friday, the White House said Biden spent Thursday night calling Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, who also tested positive for Covid-19, and speaking with hosts about events he was due. attend Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia. , Pennsylvania. The White House also reported that Biden signed the Formula Act on Thursday, which suspends tariffs on certain formula products amid the current shortage.

Jean-Pierre said Biden also attended part of Thursday night’s hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris took part in a lengthy conversation at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Washington on Friday. The vice president – who tested negative on Friday and has no symptoms of Covid – was maskless throughout the conversation despite being considered a close contact with Biden.

A White House official had told CNN Thursday that Harris would follow CDC guidelines, which recommend those vaccinated wear a properly fitted mask for 10 days after last contact. Harris appeared to be at least six feet away from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, who led the conversation and put on his mask as he left the stage at the end.

Jha declined Friday to say whether Harris flouted CDC guidelines.

First lady Dr. Jill Biden, who is also considered a close contact with the president, has no symptoms of Covid and tested negative on Friday, her spokesperson Michael LaRosa told CNN. She remains at her home in Wilmington, Delaware, and plans to stay there at least until Tuesday.

The White House has identified and notified 17 people that they are close contacts of Biden, but no staff member has tested positive so far, Jean-Pierre said.

White House officials have been preparing for months for what many saw as the inevitability of Biden going down with Covid.

A wave of cases swept through Washington in the spring and summer and as more of his top officials and family members contracted Covid, officials came to believe it was possible the president himself even falls ill, even though they took measures to protect him from the virus.

White House officials had a vague plan in place for the day Biden tested positive, including notifying the public when the tests were confirmed and issuing a daily letter from Biden’s doctor on the president’s condition. .

This story was updated with additional details on Friday.

CNN’s Rachel Janfaza, Allie Malloy, Kevin Liptak, Kate Bennett and Jasmine Wright contributed to this report.

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