During a Friday speech on the disappointing jobs report, Biden spoke hoarsely and coughed throughout the event.
"I'm OK, I have a test every day — a COVID test. I have been checking for all the strains. What I have is a 1-and-a-half year-old grandson, who had a cold, who loves to kiss his pop," Biden responded.
Later on Friday, White House physician Kevin O'Connor released an assessment, contradicting Biden's claims of daily COVID testing, but confirming the president's cold diagnosis.
"As is readily apparent, President Biden is experiencing some increased nasal congestion this week," O'Connor wrote. "This can be heard in his voice and he is feeling the colloquially well-known ‘frog in one’s throat.'"
"Investigation has included a comprehensive respiratory panel which includes 19 common respiratory pathogens, to include COVID-19, other coronaviruses, influenza, streptococcus, to name a few," O'Connor said. "All of these tests were negative. Including the above, he has been tested for COVID-19 three times this week."
Despite his earlier coughing fit, Biden was spotted dining in the private room at a new restaurant by Enrique Limardo, Imperfecto, maskless, on Friday night.
While Washington, D.C., lifted its indoor mask mandate last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday during the daily press briefing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently outlined areas where indoor mask mandates should be reinstated, including high-transmission places such as D.C. and New York, in light of the new omicron variant.
Additionally, first lady Jill Biden's spokesperson confirmed the Bidens will attend the 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements on Sunday. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will also be attending the event, honoring "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels, Motown founder Berry Gordy, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and others.
Last weekend, the president was caught maskless shopping in Nantucket, Massachusetts, over the Thanksgiving holiday. He was spotted by reporters through a door with a sign that read: "Required Face Covering." When asked about it, Psaki insisted the president follows the recommendations and the advice of the CDC and will continue to model behavior he hopes the American people will follow.
Since Biden took office, White House has been focused on keeping coronavirus under control on the grounds. Biden has been fully vaccinated and also received a booster dose of the vaccine, but breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated individuals have been becoming more common over the last few months.