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Entertainment Psaki says White House has been preparing for Biden's eventual COVID diagnosis for MONTHS

12:22  23 july  2022
12:22  23 july  2022 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House has been preparing for President Joe Biden's eventual COVID diagnosis for months during her first spot after joining MSNBC.

Calling into the network on Thursday following news of Biden's positive diagnosis, Psaki said the White House had long been bracing for an eventual COVID infection from the president.

She advised her former boss and colleagues to make sure Biden appeared 'active' following the diagnosis to quell worries from the American people.

'What they need to do over the next couple of days is show him working and show him still active and serving as president and I'm certain they'll likely do that,' Psaki said.

Biden's schedule for the last seven days before he tested COVID positive

  Biden's schedule for the last seven days before he tested COVID positive President Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday after a jam-packed week of travel and public appearances, and opportunities to give or pass on the virus. 'This morning, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19. He is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms. He has begun taking Paxlovid,' White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said in a statement. During an address on Saturday the president, 79, had a noticeable cough. That same day he fist bumped with Saudi crown-prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In her first major appearance since leaving the administration earlier this year to join MSNBC as a host and analyst, Psaki weighed in on what Biden's options were in dealing with the optics of his positive diagnosis.

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'One is to be as transparent as possible,' Psaki said. 'You don't want to have big mysterious questions hanging out there about how the president is doing, what his health looks like.'

'That is the reason why I suspect they put out this morning that he's experiencing mild symptoms and that he's begun to take Paxlovid,' she noted.

In a video posted on Twitter on Thursday, the 79-year-old - the oldest person ever to serve as president - tried to reassure the nation that everything was going to be OK.

'Hey folks, I guess you heard: This morning I tested positive for COVID,' he said, standing on the White House balcony overlooking the south lawn.

'But I've been double vaccinated, double-boosted, symptoms are mild and I really appreciate your inquiries and concerns.

'I'm doing well. Getting a lot of work done. I'm going to continue to get it done.

'And in the meantime, thanks for your concern and keep the faith. It's going to be OK.'

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The message from officials throughout the day was that the president was in good spirits, hard at work, and that there was little cause for concern.

Psaki said the message will have to be repeated everyday until the president fully recovers in order to prove that he is not out of commission.

'That is something that they will have to plan out for every day,' Psaki said. 'Showing him on the phone with congressional leaders, foreign leaders, others and engaging in the business in doing his job.'

She added that she believed the president would do just fine recovering from the virus given his access to top medical care.

'Every president has access to the best medical care in the world,' Psaki said, 'and fortunately every White House regardless of whether you're going through a pandemic or not, is prepared for the President to serve in a variety of places, locations, including recovering from COVID in the White House.'

With symptoms emerging on average about five days after contact with an infectious person, Biden's recent contacts and travel will be under scrutiny for a possible source.

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  Psaki says White House has been preparing for Biden's eventual COVID diagnosis for MONTHS

Six days ago, Biden was in Saudi Arabia, where he bumped fists with the controversial figure of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman; and earlier he was forced to pause remarks in Israel because of a coughing fit.

But Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, during her daily briefing, said it was irrelevant where he caught the disease.

'I don't think that that matters, right? I think what matters is we prepared for this moment,' she said, flagging the availability of vaccines and new drugs since Biden took power.

'These are these are treatments that are going to keep you safe. And I think that what matters here is making sure that we continue to do the work and the good thing is that the president again has been vaccinated and double boosted.'

What is Pfizer's 'gold standard' Covid drug Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is an antiviral drug designed to halt a COVID infection in its tracks.

The pill works by interfering with the viral replication process, stopping COVID from making copies of itself.

This buys valuable time for the immune system to fight off the virus.

It is available on prescription in the U.S. to any immunocompromised Americans within five days of them developing COVID symptoms.

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It is also free, with the Federal Government footing the $530 bill for each course.

Patients who receive the treatment must take three tablets twice a day for five days.

Clinical trials showed it slashed hospitalization rates by 89 per cent among at-risk people who took it within three days of developing Covid symptoms. Some of these were vaccinated.

Supplies were scarce when the pill was first approved in December, but there is now an abundance in the U.S. across many states.

She continued to say that the priority was contact tracing and Biden's health.

While the virus cut a swath through Washington's political class - from Vice President Kamala Harris to cabinet secretaries and successive press secretaries - Biden had avoided testing positive.

In part that was because of stringent measures to protect the commander-in-chief, such as not serving water to guests in his presence - lest they remove their masks - and seating him 10ft from participants in meetings.

Dr. Kevin O'Connor, physician to the president, said symptoms began on Wednesday evening.

In a letter to the press secretary he said he expected the president to respond well to the treatment.

'President Biden is currently experiencing mild symptoms, mostly rhinorrhea (or 'runny nose') and fatigue, with an occasional dry cough, which started yesterday evening,' he wrote.

Yet the doctor was not present at Jean-Pierre's briefing. Instead, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha fielded questions about the president's health, despite not having treated Biden.

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That drew accusations that the White House was being less than transparent.

'Could we get the president's physician here,' asked White House Correspondents Association President Tamara Keith, 'so that we can not play the game of telephone?'

And it led to confusion about when exactly the president developed symptoms and whether he had isolated at that point - in line with CDC guidance - or only after he received a positive test.

O'Connor's letter suggested Biden may have developed symptoms on Wednesday night, while Jha suggested that the president felt merely tired after a day of travel and that the runny nose and dry cough developed at about the same time as his positive test.

Jha also confirmed that Biden had stopped taking two heart medicines - a blood thinner to protect against clots and a medication to lower cholesterol.

'It's a very standard common thing that we do when we give people Paxlovid,' he said.

'And you don't need to do anything in those circumstances. They both get stopped for the five days that he's on Paxlovid and then they get restarted and it's totally fine and pretty normal practice.'

Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday morning, a day after he traveled to Massachusetts to deliver a major speech on climate change © Provided by Daily Mail Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday morning, a day after he traveled to Massachusetts to deliver a major speech on climate change The first lady's office said on Thursday that Jill Biden had tested negative, despite being a close contact, and would stick to her schedule in Michigan and Georgia. She told reporters that her husband was doing well © Provided by Daily Mail The first lady's office said on Thursday that Jill Biden had tested negative, despite being a close contact, and would stick to her schedule in Michigan and Georgia. She told reporters that her husband was doing well

The first lady's office said Jill Biden had tested negative in Detroit on Thursday morning, and would stick to her planned schedule in Michigan and Georgia.

And a White House official said Vice President Kamala Harris had also tested negative.

'She was last with the president on Tuesday,' said the official. 'She spoke to the president by phone this morning.'

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Harris's schedule - a trip to North Carolina - continued as planned but a White House official later said she was considered a 'close contact,' which means she is required take precautions for 10 days, according to CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask around others.

Jean-Pierre said Biden's last negative test came on Tuesday.

And she said the White House will provide a daily update on his health and that the president will take part in his planned meetings by phone and Zoom from the White House residence.

'Consistent with White House protocol for positive COVID cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative,' she added.

'Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.'

A cough and a fist bump with MBS on Saturday during his packed Middle East trip and a rest from public events on Monday: Biden's schedule for the last seven days before he tested COVID positive

Thursday - July 14 - Biden arrives in Israel and visits a packed stadium

The president held one-on-one meetings with Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid, President Isaac Herzog and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He also participated in a meeting of the 'I2U2,' which included leaders from Israel, India and the United Arab Emirates and held a press conference with Lapid.

In the evening he attended a reception held by Herzog and attended the opening of the Maccabiah Games, known as the Jewish Olympics.

Friday - July 15 - Biden fist bumps with MBS and coughs through a press conference in Jerusalem

Biden fist bumped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he arrived for a meeting with the controversial royal and his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud Friday evening in Jeddah.

Later, he gave a press briefing where DailyMail.com asked for his reaction to criticism of the friendly gesture. 'What a silly question,' the president remarked.

Before arriving in Jeddah, Biden had been in Jerusalem, where he delivered a public address and visited the West Bank before holding a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The president coughed his way through remarks at an East Jerusalem Hospital Network Event.

He told a story about a previous brain anuerysm: 'I was making a speech and I had a terrible headac- — (coughs) — excuse me — a terrible headache. And — sorry — (takes a sip of water) — (coughs) — I swallowed wrong. I had a terrible headache. This was years ago.'

Saturday - July 16 - Biden has a full day of meetings in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

On Saturday the president had a full day of bilateral meetings in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with Prime Ministers Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq, Abdel Fattah al Sisi Egypt and Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

The meetings were a part of a summit of the GCC + 3 - bringing together leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman - as well as the heads of state of the United States, Egypt and Iraq.

Biden had hoped to reach a deal on oil production at a time of sky-high gas prices.

He concluded his less-than-24 hour stint in Saudi Arabia with public remarks offering not-so-veiled criticism on Saudi Arabia's human rights record. Citizens should be able to 'question and criticize their leaders without fear of reprisal,' he said, referring to the killing of Washington Post Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden then returned back to Washington and was back at the White House before midnight.

Sunday - July 17 - Biden attends Mass

Biden went to church Sunday evening at Holy Trinity in Georgetown.

Monday - Day of rest

Monday the president had a day of rest from the public eye after returning from a Middle East tour.

Tuesday - Biden meets with Ukrainian first lady

On Tuesday the president and First Lady Jill met with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska at the White House. He offered Zelenska a bouquet of flowers and was photographed touching her back and posing for photos in close proximity.

Wednesday - Biden travels to Massachusetts

On Wednesday, Biden gave a speech on climate change in Somerset, Massachusetts.

Speaking at Brayton Point Power Station - New England's largest coal plant, which is being transformed into a factory producing cables for offshore wind farms- Biden blamed the failure of Congress to act on climate change on Republicans, instead of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

The president raised eyebrows by announcing he had cancer in an accidental misstep. Speaking about how pollution causes cancer, the president said. 'That's why I — and so damn many other people I grew up with — have cancer,' he said. Biden had several non-melanoma skin cancers removed before he became president.

Read more

Biden’s COVID Is Back .
The president felt better after taking Paxlovid, but like many others, his infection then rebounded. Why does this keep happening?With more than 40,000 prescriptions being handed out a day, we’re taking Paxlovid at about the same rate that we’re taking oxycodone. When Biden got sick last week, he started taking the pills before the day was out. When Anthony Fauci had COVID in June, he took two courses. That enthusiasm is in line with the government’s messaging around the drug.

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