President Joe Biden coughed throughout his speech on coronavirus, even after White House staff claimed he was asymptomatic after coming into contact with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The president spoke in a hoarse voice and coughed repeatedly as he spoke about the omicron variant of the coronavirus, urging Americans to get vaccinated.
Biden did not wear a mask while speaking, and walked away from the podium without putting his mask back on, even after asking all Americans to wear masks indoors.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president did not have coronavirus after coming into contact with a mid-level staffer on Air Force One who tested positive for the virus two days later.
“He’s asymptomatic. I spent several hours with him this morning and he is feeling great,” she said, prior to the president’s speech at the White House.
Psaki said that Biden had tested negative for the virus the previous day and would be tested again for the virus on Wednesday.
“He does not have symptoms. … Apologies, he has not tested positive,” she said when pressed for details by reporters. “He tested negative yesterday, as we indicated, and he’ll be tested again tomorrow. He has not — he does not have any symptoms, either.”
Throughout his presidency, Biden has struggled with a persistent dry cough while speaking, but it has appeared worse in recent weeks. Earlier in December, Biden blamed his hoarse voice and cough on a cold that he caught from his baby grandson over his Thanksgiving holiday.
“What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who had a cold, who likes to kiss his Pop,” Biden said. “And he’d been kissing my — anyway, so — but it’s just a cold.”