First lady Jill Biden has tested positive for Covid-19, as announced by the White House on Monday. She is currently experiencing “mild symptoms.” Thankfully, President Joe Biden has tested negative for the virus.
This unexpected diagnosis has disrupted Dr. Biden’s plans to commence her fall semester teaching duties at Northern Virginia Community College on Tuesday. In light of this, she is collaborating with the school to ensure her classes are covered by a substitute, as confirmed by Vanessa Valdivia, the first lady’s spokesperson. Typically, Dr. Biden conducts her classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Jill Biden, aged 72, remains at their family home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and will be under the observation of the White House medical team during her illness. She will follow their guidance regarding when it is safe for her to return to the White House, according to Valdivia. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she was scheduled to speak at an evening event in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, for the US team participating in the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany next week. However, due to her diagnosis, she will not be able to participate in this event.
There have been no alterations to White House Covid protocols or the president’s schedule at this time, according to an administration official who spoke with CNN.
This diagnosis comes at a busy time for President Joe Biden, who delivered a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia earlier in the day. He is also scheduled to present the Medal of Honor to an Army captain in a White House ceremony on Tuesday before departing for the G20 Summit in India, which is set to take place on Thursday.
CNN has sought further information regarding the regularity of Covid testing for both the president and first lady, as well as whether President Biden was in close proximity to his wife when she started exhibiting Covid symptoms.
Notably, last summer, Jill Biden tested positive for Covid-19 while vacationing in South Carolina in August, and President Biden tested positive in July. Both of them experienced rebound cases shortly after receiving treatment with Paxlovid.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had previously informed reporters in the White House briefing room that anyone meeting with the president undergoes Covid-19 testing before their meeting. This precautionary measure was implemented after members of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s delegation tested positive before a bilateral meeting.
The first lady’s diagnosis comes at a time when Covid-19 is once again in the spotlight, as the world approaches the fourth virus season since the pandemic began.
Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this summer indicated a slight increase in hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and positive Covid-19 tests. However, these numbers were not as high as in previous summers. Nationwide, there were approximately four new hospital admissions per 100,000 people in the week ending August 19, which is considered a low rate according to CDC criteria. Nonetheless, seven counties reported high levels of Covid-19 hospitalizations, and 117 counties (approximately 3.6% of the country) fell within the medium threshold, with a significant portion of them located in Florida.
A new variant, BA.2.86, has garnered attention from scientists due to its high mutation rate. However, it has only been detected in a small number of people worldwide. Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute, expressed concern about the virus’s continual evolution, stating that it “keeps finding new ways to challenge humans, to find new hosts and repeat hosts, and it’s relentless.”