Concerns grow over Biden’s cough following speech on COVID response

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Concerns grow over Biden’s cough following speech on COVID response

As President Biden addressed Americans Tuesday about his administration’s response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, many social media users raised questions about the president’s own health due to his persistent coughing throughout his remarks.

Biden’s address — in which he announced that the federal government will ship 500 million at-home rapid tests for COVID-19 starting next month, set up federally run testing sites in New York and other hot-spot areas and mobilize 1,000 military medical personnel to deploy to overwhelmed hospitals as needed — came as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the US ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

During his remarks, Biden appeared to cough and excuse himself twice. 

“I know there are some parts of this country where people are very eager to get their booster, where it’s harder to get an appointment — excuse me,” he said, coughing into his hand. 

President Joe Biden coughs while speaking about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus on Dec. 21, 2021
President Biden coughs while speaking about his administration’s response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases on Dec. 21, 2021.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Moments later, when talking about vaccination sites that will be set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the president coughed again. 

“We’ve opened — excuse me,” Biden said. “We’ve opened FEMA vaccination sites in Washington state and New Mexico recently as cases have increased. And today, I’m directing FEMA to stand up new sites in areas where there is high demand.” 

In recent months, Biden has dealt with a persistent cough during both speeches and conversations with reporters. In November, White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor acknowledged: “The president has experienced increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements.”

O’Connor went on to say that tests confirmed a prior diagnosis that the coughing was caused by gastroesophageal reflux.

President Joe Biden coughs as he speaks
President Biden had to excuse himself twice as he coughed through his remarks on Dec. 21, 2021.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Earlier this month, Biden blamed a cough and temporary voice change on a cold he picked up from his grandson. 

At the time, O’Connor released a statement on the president’s health saying he was only “experiencing some increased nasal congestion … This can be heard in his voice and he is feeling the colloquially well-known ‘frog in one’s throat.’”

Shortly before Tuesday’s address, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reassured reporters that Biden was “asymptomatic.”

Still, Biden’s coughing caused many to be concerned, particularly since he was speaking about a nationwide health crisis. 

“It’s not exactly reassuring that Biden is coughing and hacking his way through the speech. As he lectures us about what we need to do to protect ourselves from COVID. This entire situation is unserious and untenable,” Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce said Tuesday. 

“Biden keeps coughing throughout this desperate speech in which he comes off as a total failure,” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra tweeted

“Biden coughing and clearing his throat constantly as he gives his COVID speech,” former assistant secretary of the Treasury Monica Crowley wrote. “But by all means, let’s drop everything and take his health advice.”

President Joe Biden coughs as he speaks about the COVID-19 response and vaccinations, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.
President Biden’s cough caused many observers on social media to be concerned.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

“These Biden coughs are not exactly reassuring,” wrote Matt Barlett, director of content operations at Topic. In a follow-up tweet, Bartlett urged the president to “please take a sip of water.” 

Podcast host Liz Wheeler criticized the president for choosing to cough into his hands while he delivered his address. 

“Biden coughs into his hand as he scolds unvaccinated for ‘spreading’ Covid hahahahha can’t make this up,” she tweeted

MSNBC Daily writer Hayes Brown posted a gif of two characters from the TV show “Supernatural” grimacing and looking concerned, writing: “me, every time Biden coughs or clears his throat during this address.” 

On Wednesday morning, the White House revealed Biden had received a negative PCR test for COVID-19, the second test he had been administered since being in close contact with a White House staffer who tested positive. 

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