Biden, sounding hoarse, says he has cold
President Biden on Friday said he has a cold after sounding hoarse and coughing during remarks on the November jobs report at the White House.
The president, in a raspy voice, said he has taken a test and that he doesn’t have COVID-19.
Instead, he has a cold, which he said was given to him by his grandson.
“I am OK. I have a test every day to see, a COVID test. I’ve been checking for all the strands. What I have is a 1 1/2-year-old grandson who had a cold, who likes to kiss his pop. And he’s been kissing … anyway,” the president said when asked if he was OK. “But it’s just a cold.”
Biden’s young grandson is the child of Hunter Biden and is named Beau Biden, after the president’s late son.
Kevin C. O’Connor, physician to the president, sent a memo to the White House later on Friday, confirming the president’s congestion.
“As is readily apparent, President Biden is experiencing some increased nasal congestion this week. This can be heard in his voice and he is feeling the colloquially well-known ‘frog in ones throat,’” he said.
O’Connor said the president has had negative tests for “a comprehensive respiratory panel which includes 19 common respiratory pathogens,” including COVID-19, other coronaviruses, influenza, and streptococcus. Also, he said the president has been tested for COVID-19 three times this week.
“Treatment will include common over the counter medications for symptoms,” O’Connor added.
The president took additional COVID-19 tests this week because he was showing symptoms, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about O’Connor’s memo saying that Biden took three tests.
“He received those tests because he had a cold, which would be considered symptoms, but it’s not a change in protocol,” she said, adding that the president will not start being tested daily.
She said that the president’s schedule will continue as planned in light of his cold and that meetings have not been scaled back.
“It’s continuing as planned. He’s taking some over-the-counter cold medication and probably some cough drops and some tea but otherwise he’s proceeding with his schedule,” Psaki said.
Biden’s illness comes as the COVID-19 omicron variant is being detected in the U.S., with the first case found in California on Wednesday and four more states confirming cases as of Friday.
Biden, 79, coughed and cleared his throat while discussing the jobs numbers released on Friday. According to the report, the U.S. economy added 210,000 jobs in November, less than half of the 500,000 expected by economists. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was notably lower than the 4.5 percent projected by analysts, falling 0.4 percentage points from October to 4.2 percent.
Despite his cold, Biden conveyed optimism about the economy and the holiday season ahead.
“Every year, December brings the joys of a holiday season and gives us an opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and look ahead and begin to imagine the new year to come. This year we can reflect on an extraordinary bit of progress,” he said.
Biden called the drop in unemployment “incredible news” and said it is “a significant improvement” that the economy has created 6 million jobs in his first 10 full months in office.
“Because of the extraordinary strides we’ve made, we look forward to a brighter, happier new year ahead, in my view,” he said.
Updated at 2:30 p.m.
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