President Joe Biden was officially cleared to emerge from isolation Sunday after a second negative Covid-19 test, his physician announced.
“This morning, the president’s SARS-CoV-2 antigen testing was negative for a second consecutive day,” presidential physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a letter Sunday. “He will safely return to public engagement and presidential travel.”
Biden tested negative on an antigen test Saturday as well, but remained in isolation until Sunday morning before departing for Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Departing the White House for Rehoboth Beach, the President told reporters he was “feeling good,” saying, “After 18 days, I’m clear!”
Biden had not left the White House since initially testing positive for Covid-19 on July 21. After taking a five-day course of Pfizer’s antiviral drug, Paxlovid, he tested positive for a rebound case of Covid-19 last Saturday and resumed isolation. There are currently no events on his public schedule for the weekend.
During isolation, the President has participated virtually in public events from the White House residence. On two occasions, he delivered socially distanced remarks to a restricted pool from the Blue Room balcony, announcing a successful strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri Monday and signing two bills cracking down on Covid-19 relief fraud Friday.
The President and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to travel on Monday to visit Kentucky after deadly floods in the eastern part of the state killed dozens of people and devastated the area.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with recurrence of COVID-19 symptoms or a new positive viral test after having tested negative should restart isolation and isolate again for at least 5 days.”
During Biden’s first bout with the disease, he experienced mild symptoms, including runny nose, fatigue, high temperature and a cough, according to his doctor. The five-day course of Paxlovid the President completed requires a doctor’s prescription and is available via emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in people 12 and older who are at high risk of severe illness.
The CDC issued a health alert to doctors on May 24 advising that Covid-19 symptoms sometimes come back, and that may just be how the infection plays out in some people, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated or treated with medications such as Paxlovid. The CDC said that most rebound cases involve mild disease and that there have been no reports of serious illness.
Biden is fully vaccinated and received two booster shots. He received his first two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ahead of his inauguration in January 2021, his first booster shot in September and his second booster vaccination in March.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Sunday.