Biden: ‘When my predecessor got COVID, he was helicoptered to hospital. I worked for five days’

‘When my predecessor got COVID, he was taken to the hospital by helicopter. When I got it, I worked for five days’: Biden mocks Trump’s COVID diagnosis as he leaves isolation – but warns the virus is here to stay

  • Biden tested negative for COVID on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning
  • He spoke in the Rose Garden as he made a symbolic return to the Oval Office 
  • Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said the president was ending his isolation
  • ‘Yesterday evening, then again this morning, he tested NEGATIVE for SARS-CoV-2 virus by antigen testing,’ O’Connor said in a statement
  • Biden will continue to wear a face mask around other people

President Joe Biden said he was feeling great and had got through COVID with only mild discomfort, he said Wednesday morning, but he suggested Americans should wear masks indoors as the nation grapples with the latest infectious variant.

And he paid tribute to vaccinations, which he said allowed him to stay in the White House in contrast to President Donald Trump who had to be airlifted to hospital. 

‘Bottom line, when my predecessor guide COVID he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Centre,’ said Biden.

‘He was severely ill. Thankfully he recovered. 

‘I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House …. for the five-day period. The difference is vaccinations of course.’

Biden was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of staffers, who whooped and cheered at the president’s arrival – belying the way the White House had tried to play down his symptoms.

The occasion marked not just a personal victory lap but a chance for the administration to highlight progress in vaccinations and treatments.

‘Walking out I thought I heard rumbling … my staff saying, “Oh, he’s back,”‘ said Biden as he began his remarks.

‘Thanks for sticking around.’

President Joe Biden made a symbolic return to work on Wednesday morning, taking off his mask in the Rose Garden to deliver remarks and return to the Oval Office

President Joe Biden made a symbolic return to work on Wednesday morning, taking off his mask in the Rose Garden to deliver remarks and return to the Oval Office

Biden emerged from the residence side of the White House and made his way into the Rose Garden, where he contrasted his experience of COVID with that of his predecessor

Biden emerged from the residence side of the White House and made his way into the Rose Garden, where he contrasted his experience of COVID with that of his predecessor

White House staffers whooped and cheered as Biden emerged from isolation

White House staffers whooped and cheered as Biden emerged from isolation

He used the occasion to urge Americans to get vaccinations and boosters, and warned that the pandemic had not ended.

‘God bless you all, and now I get to go back to the Oval Office,’ he said as he ended his remarks in the Rose Garden and turned to walk to the West Wing. 

Earlier Biden’s doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said the president tested negative twice – once on Tuesday evening and again on Wednesday morning. Wednesday is day six since Biden’s diagnosis.

‘Yesterday evening, then again this morning, he tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 virus by antigen testing,’ O’Connor said in a statement.

‘Given these reassuring factors, the president will discontinue his strict isolation measures.’ 

The president’s symptoms are ‘almost completely resolved,’ O’Connor said. Biden is also fever free. He had been suffering from coughing, a running nose and body aches. 

The White House faced criticism for not allowing O’Connor to talk directly to journalists.

Reports suggested officials wanted to minimize stories about his health and symptoms, and feared that O’Connor’s garrulous manner might lead him off topic. 

Biden showed his enthusiasm to leave confinement on Wednesday morning.

He tweeted a photo of his negative test, writing: ‘Back to the Oval. Thanks to Doc for the good care, and to all of you for your support.’

The White House has said Biden will follow CDC protocols when he returns to work, including wearing a face mask.

‘He will wear a well-fitting mask for 10 full days any time he is around others,’ O’Connor said. Biden first tested positive on Thursday of last week. 

Biden’s doctor also said the president would ‘increase his testing cadence’ as part of his monitoring for signs of long COVID. He did not detail how often the president would be tested. 

President Joe Biden with his dog Commander after the German Shepherd was heard barking during his Tuesday zoom meeting

President Joe Biden with his dog Commander after the German Shepherd was heard barking during his Tuesday zoom meeting

President Biden has tested negative for covid and will return to work

President Biden has tested negative for covid and will return to work

President Joe Biden is showing signs of wanting out of his isolation - the White House a photo of him on Thursday waving to South Korean executives after a zoom meeting

President Joe Biden is showing signs of wanting out of his isolation – the White House a photo of him on Thursday waving to South Korean executives after a zoom meeting

He is the second president to test positive for the highly-infectious disease.  Then-President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID in October 2020, before vaccines were available. He was later revealed to have been seriously ill. He had gone to Walter Reed hospital for treatment.

Biden was vaccinated and double-boosted when he finally caught covid, having avoiding it throughout the two-year pandemic. 

On Tuesday, Biden lamented about being stuck in the residence and having to beam into a virtual meeting instead of being there in person.

‘I feel so badly I’m so close but because I’m in the last day of having been diagnosed with COVID,’ Biden said during a ZOOM meeting with the chairman of the Republic of Korea (ROK) conglomerate SK Group.

‘I’m feeling great. I hope that comes across well. I hope I look as great as I feel,’ he noted.

The executives, along with some of the president’s senior staff, were in the Roosevelt Room of the White House while Biden beamed in on a large TV screen at the head of the table. 

Biden apologized multiple times for not being there in person. The White House later posted a photo to its social media accounts of Biden waving from the Truman Balcony with executives below him in the Rose Garden, waving back.  

And, at one point, the president’s dog Commander could be heard barking in the background of the zoom session. Biden grinned as his German Shepherd made his presence known off-screen.

Later the White House posted a photo of Commander at Biden’s side, the president stroking his head, after the meeting ended. 

The White House has posted several photos online of the president working during his isolation. Officials said proper covid cautions were taken during the photo sessions.  

President Joe Biden on Tuesday indicated he's getting restless in his covid isolation, lamenting about being stuck in the residence

President Joe Biden on Tuesday indicated he’s getting restless in his covid isolation, lamenting about being stuck in the residence

The president also revealed he misses working in the West Wing. 

‘The Oval Office is lovely but I’m all the way over here and can’t be there,’ he said from his office on the second floor of the White House.

Biden has been in isolation in the residence area of the Executive Mansion since he tested positive for covid on Thursday. 

He’s had his dog for company. But first lady Jill Biden decamped to their home in Wilmington – where she has been testing negative for covid – and residence staff have been cut back, along with keepng their distance, in order to avoid infection.

Biden said on Monday it was Commander who got him up that morning.

‘Matter of fact, my dog had to wake me up this morning. My wife’s not here. She usually takes him out in the morning while I’m upstairs working out and so I felt this nozzle of my dog’s nose against my chest about five minutes or seven,’ Biden said.

Earlier this week the White House released a photo of Biden taking a phone call on the Truman Balcony with Commander lounging near him. 

President Biden has been making steps all this week toward resuming his pre-covid life, including get back to his gym routine.  

Biden’s doctor said on Tuesday the president ‘feels well enough to resume his physical exercise regimen.’

The president also completed the five days of his PAXLOVID treatment on Tuesday.

The White House released the above photo of Biden working from the Truman Balcony alongside his dog Commander on Monday

The White House released the above photo of Biden working from the Truman Balcony alongside his dog Commander on Monday

The White House has been posting photos of President Joe Biden at work since he tested positive for covid - the above photo was posted on Thursday, the day he tested positive

The White House has been posting photos of President Joe Biden at work since he tested positive for covid – the above photo was posted on Thursday, the day he tested positive

Biden is known to be an avid biker, riding outside when he can but also on a Peloton bike. 

In June he took a spill from his bike while outside riding during a weekend at his Rehoboth Beach home but was okay, getting up to pedal off. 

He also typically begins his mornings with a workout that usually involves some sort of weight lifting. 

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