Biden’s Covid diagnosis throws wrench in White House midterm push


Washington – President Joe Biden covid diagnosis threatens to upset, at least in the short term, Mid-term strategy for the White Housewhich costs him valuable time on the road and raises questions about him Age and fitness.

For White House Staff Struggling to Support Biden’s record low approval numbers And helping the Democrats hold onto seats in Congress, there was a sense that the timing couldn’t be worse, said a person close to the White House. After a series of overseas trips, officials were preparing to bring Biden home in the crucial months leading up to the midterm elections.

While Biden continued to work from the White House residence on Thursday, he was forced to cancel a trip to Pennsylvania where a key Senate seat is ready to be grabbed, and it is unclear when he will be able to resume travel. The White House said Biden will be in isolation for at least five days and will only leave isolation as soon as a negative result comes out.

“There is political anxiety here,” said one Democratic strategist, who asked not to be named while discussing the internal affairs of the White House. “Obviously, there is the elephant in the room about how well he is recovering. Does he have a very mild case, or does he have complications?”

Then there are also concerns that Biden could have long-term effects from the virus that could last for weeks or months, and whether it could perpetuate Biden’s aging narrative on the job.

“There’s also some concern about making sure that the 79-year-old president doesn’t look weak or look unhealthy,” the strategist said.

Given the confidence within the White House about the effectiveness of vaccines and antiviral drugs, there appeared to be little concern about Biden’s health among those in the administration on Thursday. Ashish Jha, the White House coordinator for Covid, said expectations were that Biden would still have a mild illness.

“People are more upset than worried” about his health, said the person close to the White House.

Besides canceling remarks he was planning to make in Pennsylvania on Thursday about reducing crime, Biden was also at the helm of a fundraiser in Philadelphia that evening. Biden was also scheduled to attend a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee in Florida on Monday, which would have been his first political rally in the midterm elections.

Two people close to the White House said that how the White House manages Biden’s public image in the coming days will be crucial. There are some concerns that if Biden is out of public view in the coming days, he will… “Hide in the basement” The narrative that Republicans pushed during the presidential campaign will resurface.

“What happens next week is going to be important,” one person said. “He needs to get out of the house to get moving.”

The White House was quick to highlight the image that Biden was going about his work — posting a picture of him on a desk and a video of him from the White House balcony in a jacket and collared shirt Thursday afternoon while saying his symptoms are mild albeit he is “doing well, getting a lot of work done.” Jha said Biden was so busy Thursday morning that he couldn’t finish breakfast.

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an MSNBC interview that the White House had been preparing for the possibility of Biden contracting Covid for several months “given the percentage of people in the country who tested positive for the virus.” But she said what the White House does in the next few days will be decisive.

“What they have to do for the next couple of days is to show him in action and show that he is still active and holding the position of president. I am sure they will probably do that,” she said.

Psaki said she expects Biden to continue his travel schedule after he recovers heading into the midterms.

“Part of his job is to engage with the American people,” she said. “I have no doubt that this will have a huge impact and will be important to him in the fall as the Democrats fight to maintain control.”

While the White House said Biden had only mild symptoms, including a runny nose, dry cough and fatigue, it could take up to a week before the extent or severity of Biden’s illness becomes clear. In some cases, patients can experience an exacerbation of symptoms five to seven days later when they develop a highly inflammatory immune response, said Celine Gunder, an infectious disease specialist who has advised the White House on Covid during the transition.

Biden’s age, 79, automatically puts him at greater risk of developing complications from Covid, but infectious disease experts expect the president – who has received two Covid booster vaccines and is relatively healthy – to recover quickly.

“He is a healthy 79-year-old man who was diagnosed quickly, has mild symptoms, is vaccinated and is receiving antiviral therapy. We are all expecting a good outcome,” said Arturo Casadevall, MD, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Biden is the second US president in office to contract the virus. Then President Donald Trump got Covid in October 2020 Before the vaccines were available, he announced in an early morning tweet that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive after reporting the infection of a senior staff member with whom he had close contact.

Trump was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center later that day and his condition was downplayed. After arriving at the hospital, Trump posted a video saying that he was doing well and that the trip was a precaution. It was later reported that Trump’s oxygen level was dropping and doctors urged him to go to the hospital while he could still walk on his own.

The Biden White House announced the diagnosis in a statement Thursday morning before 10:30 a.m. ET after Biden tested positive during a previously scheduled test. Two hours later, Biden’s Twitter account posted a picture of him at his desk, and two hours later he posted a video clip filmed outside on the White House balcony, wearing a jacket and T-shirt.

Later Thursday, the White House held a briefing for reporters with Jha to discuss Biden’s condition and released a letter from his doctor.

“I think they go to great lengths to be transparent,” said the Democratic strategist. “Given 24, they don’t want to be accused of hiding the ball over his health.”

Mike Mimoli And the Erica Edwards Contributed.

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