KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (AP) — First Lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing “mild symptoms,” the White House announced Tuesday. President Joe Biden continues to test negative after recently recovering from the virus, but will wear a mask indoors for 10 days as a precaution.
The Bidens have been vacationing in South Carolina since August 10 and the 71-year-old first lady began experiencing symptoms on Monday. Jill Biden, like her husband, has been twice vaccinated and twice boosted with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. she has been prescribed the antiviral drug Paxlovid and will isolate in the vacation home for at least five days.
“Close contacts of the First Lady have been notified,” her communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, said in a statement. “She is currently in a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after receiving two consecutive negative COVID tests.”
The president tested negative for the virus on Tuesday morning, the White House said, but would wear a mask indoors for 10 days. He plans to return to Washington on Tuesday. to sign the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill in the afternoon, before continuing on to his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
“In accordance with guidance (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) because she is a close contact of the First Lady, she will wear a mask for 10 days when she is indoors and around other people,” the House said. White. She said she would increase the president’s testing cadence and report those results.
When given within five days of the onset of symptoms, Paxlovid, produced by drugmaker Pfizer, has been shown to achieve a 90% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths among patients most likely to contract a serious illness. But it’s also associated with a higher incidence of rebound infections, like the one Joe Biden picked up on Aug. 7, in which patients test positive again days after the drug helps clear the initial infection.
The Joe Biden cases had kept the first two apart for more than two weeks.
After more than two years and more than 1 million deaths in the United States, the virus is still killing an average of 411 people a day in the US, according to the CDC. The unvaccinated are at much higher risk, more than twice as likely to test positive and nine times more likely to die from the virus than those who have received at least a primary dose of the vaccines, according to the public health agency.
The highly transmissible omicron variant it is the dominant strain in the US, but scientists say it poses a lower risk of serious illness for those who are up to date on their vaccinations. Omicron’s BA.5 substrain, thought to be even more contagious, now accounts for more than 88% of US cases.
Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/pandemic-coronavirus.
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