Biden’s diagnosis with COVID complicates the White House’s midterm campaign

9 mins read
Biden's diagnosis with COVID complicates the White House's midterm campaign

The White House’s midterm plan might be upended, at least temporarily, by President Joe Biden’s Covid diagnosis. It could also cost him crucial travel time and raise concerns about his age and health.

There was a sense that the timing couldn’t be worse for a White House staff working to raise his record-low popularity ratings and aid Democrats in keeping their seats in Congress, a person close to the White House said. Officials were preparing to send Biden home in the key months leading up to the midterm elections since he had recently returned from a series of abroad visits.

It’s unknown when Biden will be able to resume traveling, but he was forced to postpone a trip to Pennsylvania where a crucial Senate seat is up for election. Biden continued working from the White House residence on Thursday. The White House stated that he will remain in isolation for at least five days and will only be released after a negative test.

When speaking about internal White House issues, a Democratic strategist who wished to remain unnamed remarked, “There is political anxiety here.” “Clearly, the question of how well he heals is the proverbial elephant in the room. Does he have complications or a rather minor case?

Furthermore, there are worries that Biden might experience long-lasting consequences from the illness that could endure for weeks or months and that this could support the argument that he is too elderly for the position.

The analyst said that there was some anxiety about the 79-year-old president not coming out as feeble or unwell.

There didn’t seem to be much worry about Biden’s health among many in the administration on Thursday, perhaps reflecting the White House’s faith in the efficiency of immunizations and antivirals. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid coordinator, stated that it is anticipated that Biden would continue to suffer a minor sickness.

According to a source close to the White House, “people are more irritated than frightened” about his health.

In addition to postponing his planned speech on crime reduction in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Vice President Biden also canceled his appearance as the main speaker at a fundraiser in Philadelphia the same evening. Additionally, he had been invited to the DNC’s rally in Florida on Monday, which would have been his first midterm election-related political event.

How the White House manages his public image in the coming days will be crucial, said two people close to the White House. There are some concerns that if he is out of public view in the coming days, the “hiding in the basement” narrative pushed by Republicans during the presidential campaign will re-emerge.

“What happens in the next week will be important,” one of the people said. “He needs to get outside moving around.”

The White House moved quickly to portray Biden as continuing to work; on Thursday afternoon, they released a photo of him at his desk and a video of him standing on a White House balcony wearing a blazer and a collared shirt, while claiming that his symptoms were mild and that he was “doing well, getting a lot of work done.” Jha said that because of his hectic schedule on Thursday morning, Biden was unable to finish his meal.

The White House has been planning for the potential of Biden acquiring Covid for several months “given the amount of people in the country who have tested positive,” according to former White House press secretary Jen Psaki in an interview with MSNBC. But she said that the White House’s actions over the coming days will be very important.

“Over the next couple of days, they need to show him working, showing him still engaged in his role as president. And I have no doubt that they’ll act in that way,” she continued.

Psaki stated that she anticipates Biden to continue traveling when he heals in time for the midterm elections.

He has to interact with Americans as part of his employment, “She spoke. “And given that the Democrats are battling to keep power, I have no doubt that this will matter greatly to him heading into the fall.

The White House reported that Biden had modest symptoms, such as a runny nose, dry cough, and exhaustion; however, it may take up to a week before it becomes evident how mild or serious his sickness will be. According to infectious disease expert Dr. Celine Gounder, who counseled the White House on Covid during the transition, patients may occasionally see a worsening of symptoms after five to seven days if they undergo a hyperinflammatory immune response.

Biden’s age, 79, automatically puts him at greater risk for Covid complications, but infectious disease experts expect the president — who has had two booster vaccines and is in relatively good health otherwise — to recover quickly.

“He is a healthy 79-year-old-man who has been diagnosed rapidly, who’s having mild symptoms, who’s vaccinated and is on antiviral therapy. All of us expect a good outcome,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Biden is the second sitting U.S. president to be infected with the virus. Then-President Donald Trump was infected with Covid in October 2020 before the availability of vaccines, announcing in an early morning tweet that he and then-first lady Melania Trump had tested positive after it was reported that a top staffer he had been in close contact with was infected.

Trump was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center later that day and downplayed the seriousness of his condition. After his arrival at the hospital, he released a video saying he was doing well and the trip was a precaution. It was later reported that his oxygen level was falling and doctors urged him to go to the hospital while he could still walk on his own.

Biden’s White House announced the diagnosis in a statement Thursday just before 10:30 a.m. ET after he tested positive during a previously scheduled test. Two hours later, Biden’s Twitter account shared the photo of him at his desk and two hours after that he posted the video filmed outside on a White House balcony wearing a jacket and a collared shirt.

Later Thursday, the White House held a briefing for reporters with Jha to discuss Biden’s condition and released a letter from his doctor.

The Democratic strategist added, “I think they are going above and above to be open. They don’t want to be accused of concealing the truth about his condition as we approach the year 24.



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