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President Biden delivered remarks from the White House Rose Garden Wednesday after completing treatment and testing negative for COVID-19, stressing the importance of vaccination and touting his administration’s efforts to make tools available to the American people.
Biden entered the Rose Garden from the residency wearing a mask, as a band played “Hail to the Chief,” and the crowd cheered.
“Hello, everyone. I’ve just tested negative for COVID-19 after isolating for five days,” Biden said. “Thankfully, I’ll now be able to return to work in person, but I want to thank you all for your well wishes, your prayers over this past week and the calls I’ve gotten.”
Biden thanked the White House medical team for the “incredible care.”
“Fortunately, God, thankfully, God willing, there were—my symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick, and I’m feeling great,” Biden said. “The entire time I was in isolation, I was able to work to carry out the duties of the office and without any interruption.”
“Unfortunately, this COVID is still with us, as it has been for two and a half years, but our fight against COVID is making a huge difference,” Biden said, noting that while the virus “isn’t gone, COVID deaths are down.”
Biden urged “every person aged five and over” to get a booster shot, and every person age 50 and over to “get two booster shots.”
“I did,” Biden said, noting that even if you get COVID “your odds of getting severely ill from COVID are very, very low.”
“Most COVID deaths are among those who are not up to date on their shots, their COVID vaccinations,” Biden said.
Biden also touted Paxlovid, calling it a “powerful treatment.”
“It wasn’t available a year ago. It is now. It is a pill and you can take these pills at home,” Biden explained. “You can get them for free at tens of thousands of local drugstores around the country.”
Biden said the FDA “even put in a special rule so many pharmacies can prescribe this drug.”
“You don’t even have to go to the doctor to get a prescription,” Biden said. “Millions of Americans have used Paxlovid…including me.”
Biden shifted to the difference between his case of COVID versus former President Trump’s in 2020.
“When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered” Biden said. “When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House in the office upstairs.”
He added: “The difference is vaccinations of course.”
Former President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020, before vaccines were available to the public. Trump spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before being released.
The Trump administration created Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to create vaccines against the novel coronavirus, as the pandemic raged in 2020. Under his administration, the Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Trump in December 2020 signed an executive order that would ensure all Americans had access to coronavirus vaccines before the U.S. government could begin aiding nations around the world.
Trump, like Biden, received a COVID vaccine when it became available and told Fox News in December that he had received a booster dose as well.
Biden first tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Biden first tested negative Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning, White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said, noting that the president completed his five-day course of Paxlovid and five full days of isolation.
“He remains fever-free and he discontinued use of any acetaminophen (TYLENOL) for the past 36 hours,” O’Connor said. “His symptoms have been steadily improving, and are almost completely resolved.”
O’Connor said the president will wear “a well-fitting mask for 10 full days any time he is around others.”
“Acknowledging the potential for so-called ‘rebound’ COVID positivity observed in a small percentage of patients treated with Paxlovid, the president will increase his testing cadence, both to protect people around him and to assure early detection of any return of viral replication,” O’Connor added.
Meanwhile, Biden on Wednesday said: “Let’s keep emerging from one of the darkest moments in our history with hope and light.”