“I’m fine,” Biden said when asked about his voice at the end of his speech, which he repeatedly interrupted to clear his throat.
“I am tested every day, a Covid test,” he added. “What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who has had a cold and loves to kiss his daddy. Either way, it’s just a cold. “
Biden began his planned speech in the November Jobs Report sounding hoarse, his voice audibly lower than his normal pitch. At one point, he turned away from his microphone to cough into his hand.
He did not wear a mask during his speech; he usually does not wear one during White House remarks.
Stopping and turning to the cameras, Biden shouted, “Great! “
It is not uncommon for chairs to appear in public with a hoarser or more tired sound than normal; the work is exhausting and usually requires interacting with a wide range of people. Presidents are becoming frequent users of hand sanitizer gel to avoid getting sick.
Yet in the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, every variation in the Commander-in-Chief’s condition is closely watched. In the days leading up to President Donald Trump revealed he had Covid last year, he rang and appeared under the weather.
This week, an excerpt from a book by Trump’s chief of staff at the time revealed that the former president had actually tested positive for Covid several days earlier than originally expected. In the excerpt obtained by The Guardian, Mark Meadows wrote that Trump subsequently tested negative.
For his part, Biden’s disclosure that he is tested daily for Covid goes beyond what the White House has revealed about his testing regime. Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday this week that he last tested negative on Monday.
In a letter published to the press pool on Friday, Biden’s doctor, Dr Kevin O’Connor, confirmed that the president had a cold, writing: “As is evident, President Biden is experiencing an increase in nasal congestion this week. It can be heard in his voice and he feels the well-known “throat frog”.
O’Connor says the president received a full respiratory panel, “which includes 19 common respiratory pathogens, including COVID-19, other coronaviruses, influenza, strep, to name a few. … All of these tests were negative. ”
O’Connor said Biden has been tested for Covid-19 three times this week.
In February, the White House said Biden would be tested for Covid every two weeks, on the recommendation of his doctor, who cited the vaccine’s effectiveness rates. Psaki said Wednesday that “nothing has changed” in the testing protocols.
She also said Biden’s travel schedule and list of White House commitments would not be changed due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which government health officials are still studying to determine transmissibility and resistance. potential for vaccines.
Biden’s guess that he contracted the common cold from his young grandson will be familiar to parents and grandparents of young children. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the common cold is the number one reason Americans miss work and says adults have an average of two or three colds a year. Children have even more.
The CDC says most people recover from a cold in seven to 10 days, but those with weakened immune systems, asthma or breathing problems are at risk for more serious illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia. .
The agency recommends resting and getting fluids – and staying home to avoid infecting others.
During his physical earlier this month, Biden’s doctor performed a specific examination of the “increasing frequency and severity of” clearing throat “and coughing during the President’s addresses.”
He discovered that Biden suffered from a condition known as a hiatus hernia, which caused him to suffer from reflux, which the doctor said could explain his more frequent throat clearing.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.