REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — Ending the latest COVID-19 self-isolation, President Joe Biden on Sunday left the White House for the first time since contracting the coronavirus last month, settling in for a reunion with first lady Jill Biden in their hometown, Delaware.
The president had come out negative Saturday, paving the way for an exit from a longer-than-expected lockdown due to a recovering case of the virus. The White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, had said in his last update that Biden, “out of an abundance of caution,” would continue his “strict isolation measures” pending a second negative test. The White House on Sunday did not say whether the president had a second negative test and had not provided a new report from O’Connor as of midday Saturday.
“I feel great,” Biden said before boarding Marine One outside the White House.
The Bidens were expected to spend the day at Rehoboth Beach, a popular vacation destination.
Biden was initially positive on July 21 and started taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid, which is intended to reduce the chance of serious illness from the virus. According to his doctor, Biden’s vital signs remained normal throughout his infection, but his symptoms included a runny nose, cough, sore throat and body aches.
After self-isolating for several days, Biden tested negative on July 26 and July 27, when he gave a speech in the Rose Garden, telling Americans they can “live without fear” of the virus if they get booster shots, get tested for the virus if they get sick and seek treatments.
But Biden caught a rare rebound case of COVID-19 on July 30, forcing him to self-isolate again. He occasionally gave speeches from the White House balcony, such as when he marked the killing of an al-Qaeda leader or a strong job fair.
He continued to test positive until Saturday, when he received his first negative result. While the president secluded himself in the White House residence, the first lady remained in Delaware.
The Bidens are scheduled to visit Kentucky on Monday to see flood damage and meet families.