WASHINGTON — President Biden returned to the Oval Office with a triumphant flair on Wednesday after testing negative for Covid-19, boasting that his mild case was evidence of the progress his administration had made in stemming the pandemic.
The president’s staff staged a pep rally of sorts within the Rose Garden to rejoice the top of his five-day isolation, welcoming Mr. Biden to the lectern with a rendition of “Hail to the Chief” and a crowd of cheering aides. Wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, the president removed his mask and declared his personal victory against the coronavirus.
“Fortunately, God thankfully, God willing, my symptoms were mild, my recovery was quick and I’m feeling great,” Mr. Biden said in late-morning remarks streamed and broadcast live. “The whole time I used to be in isolation, I used to be capable of work, to perform the duties of the office with none interruption. It’s an actual statement on where we’re within the fight against Covid-19.”
Mr. Biden, who at 79 is the oldest president in American history, appeared energetic and upbeat. He did cough at one point during his transient remarks, as he often did before he had Covid, and stumbled over the name of the drug he had taken, as he sometimes does with certain words. His return to work in person got here far easier and fewer dramatically than when President Donald J. Trump contracted the virus in the autumn of 2020, before vaccines were available, a contrast Mr. Biden himself raised.
“When my predecessor got Covid, he needed to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center,” Mr. Biden said. “He was severely in poor health. Thankfully, he recovered. After I got Covid, I worked from upstairs within the White House, within the offices upstairs, for the five-day period. The difference is vaccinations, after all, but in addition three recent tools free to all and widely available. You don’t must be president to get these tools to make use of to your defense.”
Mr. Biden named those tools because the widespread availability of booster shots, at-home tests and coverings equivalent to the Paxlovid antiviral drug that he took. He also used the chance to induce Americans to go to Covid.gov to learn more about those tools.
“Covid was killing hundreds of Americans a day once I came,” Mr. Biden said. “That isn’t the case here. You’ll be able to live without fear by doing what I did. Get boosted, get tested, get treated.”
The president’s recovery comes as the brand new, more contagious BA.5 subvariant rapidly spreads through some communities, even infecting individuals who recently had Covid and had previously been thought to have increased immunity, a minimum of temporarily. But while cases are on the rise, deaths have remained fewer than that they had been, creeping as much as greater than 400 a day from around 300 a day. The typical was greater than 3,000 a day when Mr. Biden was inaugurated.
Mr. Biden’s return to the office got here shortly after Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the White House physician, reported that he had tested negative on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The president’s symptoms from Covid-19 were “almost completely resolved,” Dr. O’Connor wrote in a memo, but Mr. Biden will proceed to wear a tightfitting mask for the subsequent 10 days when he’s around other people.
“He stays fever-free and he discontinued use of any acetaminophen (Tylenol) for the past 36 hours,” Dr. O’Connor said.
At first of his presidency, Mr. Biden took extraordinary precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19, spending much of the primary few months sequestered from a lot of his staff members. He didn’t travel and conducted most of his business via video calls.
However the White House dropped a lot of those precautions as vaccines became widely available. In recent months, the president resumed a full travel schedule, stopped wearing a mask normally and held crowded, in-person events.
Dr. O’Connor said in his letter that the president was at some risk of what doctors call a “Paxlovid rebound,” by which some patients experience a return of symptoms after testing negative. He said that, because of this, the president can be tested more ceaselessly than usual.