Capitol Hill reacts to President Biden’s COVID-19 announcement

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 5:04 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - President Joe Biden said he is doing well after the White House announced on Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill extended well-wishes on social media.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “I’m wishing President Biden a quick recovery! And I’m encouraging every American to get vaccinated and boosted if you’re not already.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted, “I was sorry to hear that President Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. Wishing him a speedy recovery.”

During a Thursday afternoon update on the president’s condition, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said that President Biden will isolate and work at the White House.

Jean Pierre said, “President Biden is currently experiencing mild symptoms, mostly a runny nose and fatigue, with an occasional dry cough which started yesterday [Wednesday] evening.”

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, told reporters, “He [President Biden] is breathing well, his oxygen level is normal.”

President Biden was scheduled to travel to Pennsylvania on Thursday, but the White House confirmed travel was cancelled after the president’s positive COVID test. Late Thursday afternoon, the president tweeted a video.

“Hey folks, I guess you heard. This morning I tested positive for Covid,” President Biden said. “But I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done, going to continue getting it done, and in the meantime thanks for your concern and keep the faith, it’s going to be okay.”

Back on Capitol Hill, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a gastroenterologist, expressed concern.

Cassidy said, “Of course I’m concerned. I know he’s been vaccinated and been boosted, and so that’s going to decrease his risk for having a severe complication. But as a physician, I also recognize that being 79 years old and perhaps a little frail makes him at greater risk for complications.”

The White House says President Biden is taking Paxlovid, an antiviral medication developed to reduce Covid symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Paxlovid is meant for high risk people which it says includes those 65 and older, or who are immunocompromised. Clinical trials showed the drug reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent.

Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau that he hopes President Biden has a quick recovery.

Scott said, “I’m sure the president will get the best care. And I hope... it’s not a long term problem.”

The White House said the president will isolate for the next five days. First Lady Jill Biden tested negative for COVID on Thursday, and the White House tells Gray Television that her daily schedule has not changed.

The White House also said it is working on a search for those President Biden had close contact with. The president traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday and was seen in close contact with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. The senators did not respond to our request for comment before our deadline.

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