U.S. President Joe Biden signaled his recovery from COVID-19 Wednesday with his first public appearance, in which he touted the progress his administration has made in fighting the pandemic.
Biden, who appeared in the White House Rose Garden in a suit and tie with his signature aviator sunglasses, appeared in good spirits.
“As I was walking out, I thought I heard a rumbling on my staff saying, ‘Oh, he's back,’” he said. “Thanks for sticking around.”
Biden was released from his isolation after testing negative for COVID-19 twice – on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning, his doctor said.
“His symptoms have been steadily improving, and are almost completely resolved,” White House physician Kevin O'Connor wrote. “These results come after the president finished his five-day long treatment of (anti-viral drug) Paxlovid.” He added that Biden will continue to wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days around others.
“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. It's a real statement on where we are in the fight against COVID 19.”
Biden tested positive for COVID-19 last Thursday. He is fully vaccinated and double boosted – both interventions that are now more available than they were earlier in the pandemic.
“When my predecessor got COVID, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center,” he said. “He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered. When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House, the office upstairs, for the five-day period. The difference is vaccinations of course, but also three new tools free to all and widely available. You don't need to be president to get these tools to use for your defense. In fact, the same booster shots, the same at home test, the same treatment that I got is available to you.”
He encouraged Americans to remain up to date on their vaccines and boosters, and to remain vigilant amid the rise of a new, highly infectious variant.
“And now I get to go back to the Oval Office,” he said.
He did not take questions from reporters as he made the short walk to the president’s ceremonial office.