Ashish Jha: None of Biden's 17 close contacts have contracted COVID

None of the 17 close contacts with President Biden have tested positive for COVID-19 according to White House Coronavirus Coordinator Ashish Jha

  • Ashish Jha said Sunday morning that all of the 17 people determined to have close contact with President Joe Biden have not tested positive for COVID
  • White House COVID Coordinator said that all are following CDC protocol 
  • Also claimed that as of Saturday night, Biden is feeling ‘much, much better’ 
  • Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday 
  • His wife Jill and Vice President Kamala Harris are both close contacts 

None of the 17 people who had close contact with Joe Biden around the time of his COVID diagnosis have tested positive for the disease, White House Coronavirus Coordinator Ashish Jha said.

‘As of late yesterday, again, 17 is the number that we are tracking in the White House medical unit – none of them have tested positive as of late yesterday,’ Jha told ABC’s This Week program on Sunday morning.

‘Obviously all those people have been contacted,’ he added. ‘They are following CDC protocol. And we’ll continue to follow them.’

Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden are among those considered close contacts along with some senior staff and members of Congress.

Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren along with Democratic Representatives Jake Auchincloss and Bill Keating traveled with Biden on Air Force One Wednesday for the trip to Somerset, Massachusetts.

Protocol for a ‘close contact’ in the White House means that a person must be within six-feet of the person who tested positive for longer than 15 minutes. This is the sam guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

White House COVID Coordinator Ashish Jha said Sunday morning that all of the 17 people determined to have close contact with President Joe Biden have not tested positive for COVID. He also said that as of Saturday night, Biden is feeling ‘much, much better’

Close contact include Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren along with Democratic Representatives Jake Auchincloss and Bill Keating, who traveled with Biden on Air Force One Wednesday for the trip to Somerset, Massachusetts

Jha noted that COVID-19 protocols have already been ‘tight,’ noting that Biden would often meet outdoors with people.

The president’s doctor said in a Sunday update on his conditions that Biden’s symptoms are improving ‘significantly’ but he still has a sore throat three days after initial COVID-19 diagnosis.

‘His voice remains a bit deep,’ White House Physician Kevin O’Connor noted in his letter to Biden’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The sore throat, Dr. O’Connor says, is ‘likely a result of lymphoid activation as his body clears the virus, and is thus encouraging.’

‘His rhinorrhea [runny nose], cough and body aches have diminished considerably,’ he noted.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha also said Sunday morning that Biden is feeling ‘much, much better’ after his COVID-19 diagnosis.

‘I checked in with his team late last night,’ Jha told CBS Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan. ‘He was feeling well. He had a good day yesterday. He’s got a viral syndrome, an upper respiratory infection, that is, and he’s doing just fine.’

‘So we haven’t gotten any updates this morning, but through last night, he was feeling much, much better,’ Jha said hours before O’Connor released his update.

Biden received his positive diagnosis during a routine COVID test administered on Thursday. 

White House Physician Kevin O’Connor sent another update on President Joe Biden’s on Sunday following his positive COVID diagnosis. The letter states Biden’s ‘predominant symptom’ is a sore throat and as a result a deeper-than-usual voice

Dr. Kevin O’Connor is Biden’s White House physician. He has sent updates on the president since his COVID diagnosis on Thursday

When news was released of his diagnosis, the president said he felt fine and was working from isolation at the White House.

Dr. O’Connor said Sunday morning that Biden completed his third day of PAXLOVID treatment on Saturday night. 

Biden, the doctor said, will continue to isolate considering he has the highly contagious BA.5 variant.

Jha said that the emergence of the BA.5 variant is leading to more need for continued masking indoors.

‘Masks work, right?’ he said. ‘They clearly slow down transmission. So in areas of high transmission, I think it’s very prudent for people to be wearing masks indoors, especially if they’re in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.’

The doctor said that 80 percent of current COVID infections in the U.S. are this BA. 5 variant.

‘Thank goodness, our vaccines and therapeutics work well against [this variant], which is why I think the President’s doing well,’ he said on Sunday.

The president’s physician Dr. Kevin O´Connor wrote in a Saturday update on Biden’s condition that his earlier symptoms, including a runny nose and a cough, have become ‘less troublesome.’

His earlier notes following Biden’s diagnosis Thursday did not mention any sore throat or body aches.

President Joe Biden speaks virtually during a meeting with his economic team in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington on Friday, July 22, 2022 as he remained in isolation following his COVID diagnosis

Biden’s vital signs, such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, ‘remain entirely normal,’ and his oxygen saturation levels are ‘excellent’ with ‘no shortness of breath at all,’ the doctor wrote in his latest update.

‘His lungs remain clear,’ he added.

O’Connor said the results of the preliminary DNA sequencing that indicated Biden is infected with the BA.5 variant do not affect his treatment plan ‘in any way.

Jha pledged on Sunday the White House would continue providing updates on the president’s condition and whether he might have long-term symptoms.

‘We think it’s really important for the American people to know how well their president is doing,’ he said.

‘Obviously if he has persistent symptoms, obviously if any of them interfere with his ability to carry out his duties, we will disclose that early and often with the American people. But I suspect that this is going to be a course of COVID that we’ve seen in many Americans who have ben fully vaccinated, double boosted, getting treated with those tools in hand,’ Jha added.

‘The president´s been doing well and we’re going to expect that he’s going to continue to do so.’


Lagevrio and Paxlovid are oral antiviral treatments which work by blocking the ability of the Covid-19 virus to multiply in the body.

The medication must be prescribed by an authorised prescriber like a general practitioner or a nurse practitioner. 

Oral treatment should be administered as soon as possible after diagnosis of Covid-19 and within five days of symptoms to achieve the best result.

The capsules are taken twice a day for five days with the most common side effects including diarrhoea, nausea, and dizziness. 

Lagevrio has been prioritised for use in residential aged care facilities as a priority for older people early this year.

That is because Paxlovid is not safe to use with certain other medications, and should not be taken by people with severe kidney or liver disease.

The two active substances in the drug, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, which are given as separate tablets, must be taken together twice a day for five days.

An oral treatment is not intended as a substitute for vaccination against Covid-19, with vaccines considered the best protection against the virus. 

Source: Australian Department of Health 

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