Joe Biden ‘almost completely’ over COVID, doctor says

Joe Biden 'almost completely' over COVID, doctor says

President Biden’s physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor on Tuesday declared his patient is “almost completely” symptom-free after receiving treatment for COVID-19 — as reporters continue to slam the White House for not letting O’Connor take questions.

The 79-year-old president “completed his five-day course of Paxlovid last night,” O’Connor wrote in a public memo, and “[h]is symptoms have now almost completely resolved.”

“His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain absolutely normal,” O’Connor wrote. “His oxygen saturation continues to be excellent on room air. His lungs remain clear. The President now feels well enough to resume his physical exercise regimen.”

O’Connor issued a memo with similar wording on Monday morning and Biden told reporters Monday afternoon that he still has a “raspy” voice and nasal discomfort and that “I still have … a little bit of a sore throat, and a little bit of a cough.”

Biden poses with Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who refused to take questions on the president's condition.
President Biden’s doctor Kevin O’Connor has not been allowed to take questions on the president’s condition.

Biden on Thursday tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 1 million Americans since March 2020, and journalists have hammered the White House for not making O’Connor available at briefings focused on his condition.

“Are you familiar with a reason that [Biden] decided not to send his physician here to answer our questions the way that his predecessors have?” CBS News Radio reporter Steven Portnoy asked Monday at the White House briefing.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the Biden administration’s pandemic response coordinator, has been taking questions on O’Connor’s behalf and insisted to Portnoy, who recently completed a term as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, that “you’ve heard from [O’Connor] through his letters every single day.”

Biden shared the news of his diagnosis last week.
Biden shared the news of his diagnosis last week.
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NBC reporter Mike Memoli pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday, “Have you or did Dr. Jha asked Dr. O’Connor to come to the briefing room and [he] declined?”

“There is no resistance to doing that … [but] the answer is no to that,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that Biden “has very mild symptoms.”

The lack of Q&A with the presidential physician has infuriated journalists who said it was a departure from historical practice.

The opening volley of transparency criticism came Thursday from veteran White House journalists who pointed out that it’s customary for presidential physicians to directly answer questions during health crises — as they did when then-President Donald Trump contracted COVID-19 in October 2020.

National Journal reporter George Condon, a Pulitzer Prize winner who interviewed 10 US presidents and led the White House Correspondents’ Association in 1993 and 1994, said it was unacceptable for O’Connor not to appear.

“The question is when will Dr. O’Connor come out? Because to just put out a statement and shield him from questions would be the least transparency of any White House in 50 years on a presidential illness,” Condon told Jean-Pierre at the Thursday White House briefing.

Some journalists speculate that Biden’s aides don’t want O’Connor to field questions about unrelated health concerns, such as questions about Biden’s fitness to serve a possible second term and claims that he’s experiencing age-related cognitive decline.

O’Connor suspended Biden’s use of two heart medications Thursday to prevent negative drug interactions and began to have Biden take aspirin instead of anticoagulant Eliquis, which is used to prevent strokes in people who have atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat.

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