US first lady Jill Biden contracts Covid
September 5, 2023 08:59 AM
US First Lady Jill Biden on Monday tested positive for Covid-19, the White House said. President Joe Biden tested negative.
The 72-year-old first lady is experiencing "only mild symptoms," her office said, and will remain in the couple's home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
President Biden, 80, was administered a Covid test Monday evening and tested negative, the White House said, adding that he will continue regular testing and monitor for symptoms.
The United States has been experiencing a rise in Covid cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.
According to CNN, the diagnosis of the first lady, 72, comes amid a busy week for Joe Biden, who delivered a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia earlier in the day. The president is scheduled to present the Medal of Honour to an army captain in a White House ceremony Tuesday before departing for the G20 Summit in India on Thursday.
Last summer, the first lady had tested positive for Covid-19 while vacationing in South Carolina in August. President Joe Biden tested positive last July. Both experienced rebound cases shortly after being treated with Paxlovid.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in July in the White House briefing room that anyone who meets with the president is still tested for Covid-19 before their meeting after members of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s delegation tested positive ahead of a bilateral meeting.
“We have testing protocols when – anytime somebody meets with the president,” Jean-Pierre said at the time. “So, I can tell you that anybody who meets with the president does indeed get tested. I do. We all do.”
Jill Biden’s diagnosis comes amid renewed attention to Covid-19 as the world approaches the fourth virus season since the coronavirus arrived on the scene.
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US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from earlier in the summer showed a slight increase in hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and positive Covid-19 tests – although not nearly as high as in past summers.
Overall, there were about four new hospital admissions for every 100,000 people nationwide in the week ending August 19, which is considered low, according to CDC thresholds. Seven counties had high levels of Covid-19 hospitalizations. But 117 counties — about 3.6% of the country — were in the medium threshold. About a quarter of those counties were in Florida.
A new variant, BA.2.86, has captured scientists’ attention because it’s highly mutated, but so far it’s only been detected in a small number of people globally. Nonetheless, “it doesn’t look good … in terms of the virus’ nonstop evolution,” Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said. The virus “keeps finding new ways to challenge humans, to find new hosts and repeat hosts, and it’s relentless.”