WASHINGTON — President Biden said he feels well despite a cough and hoarse voice from COVID-19, as he held a videoconference with economic advisers that the White House let reporters briefly observe.

“I’m feeling much better than I sound,” Biden assured attendees at a Friday afternoon session on efforts to lower gas prices for Americans.

Biden’s appearance a day after he tested positive for COVID-19 followed an update Friday morning from the president’s doctor indicating that Biden’s symptoms had improved overnight.

White House physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo posted online that the president – who is being treated with Pfizer Inc.’s drug Paxlovid – had an elevated temperature Wednesday night, of 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit, that “responded favorably” after he took acetaminophen, O’Connor added.

Asked Friday afternoon by reporters to elaborate on how he was feeling, Biden, who appeared remotely on a large video screen, gave a thumbs-up.

Despite his illness, Biden, 79, is maintaining a virtual work schedule, including receiving his daily security briefing and meeting with senior advisers to discuss legislative priorities.


“The president is fully vaccinated and twice-boosted, so I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do,” O’Connor wrote.

“There has been nothing in the course of his illness thus far which gives me cause to alter that initial expectation,” he wrote.

Biden, who is isolating in the White House residence, initially reported mild symptoms including a runny nose, dry cough and fatigue.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters they’d spoken with Biden on Friday and his condition was improving.

“The president is doing better,” Jha said. “He slept well last night. He ate his breakfast and lunch, fully – he actually showed me his plate.”

Biden is “still putting in eight-plus hours of work day,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that he “wants to remind Americans to get vaccinated because, in his own words, it matters.”


O’Connor said Biden is treating his symptoms by drinking water and using an albuterol inhaler “as needed,” in addition to acetaminophen. The letter didn’t indicate whether or how often Biden has used the inhaler, which is commonly directed for respiratory ailments like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema in addition to COVID-19.

O’Connor said Biden would also take a low dose of aspirin to replace a prescription-strength blood thinner that’s been discontinued while he’s treated with Paxlovid.

Biden recently returned from a trip to the Middle East where he met with regional leaders – including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – to discuss oil production.

During the trip, the president regularly embraced and greeted foreign leaders and dignitaries without wearing a mask, despite the White House saying his doctors had recommended enhanced safety protocols out of concern about the more-transmissible BA.5 variant of the virus that’s now spreading widely.

The White House Medical Unit has informed 17 people – including senior staff – considered close contacts of the president of his infection, Jean-Pierre said Friday. They include White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris’s office and the first lady’s office said the two women tested negative Thursday.

So far, there have been almost 568 million reported cases of coronavirus globally, resulting in almost 6.4 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.