Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:49 P.M. EDT
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Good afternoon, everybody. So, first I wanted to read you the letter from the President’s physician, updating you on the President’s health:
“President Biden completed his first full day of PAXLOVID last night. His symptoms have improved. He did mount a temperature yesterday evening to 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which responded favorably to…TYLENOL. His temperature has remained normal since then. His symptoms remain characterized as…runny nose and fatigue, with an occasional non-productive, now “loose” cough. His voice is deeper this morning. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation remain entirely normal, on room air.
The President is tolerating treatment well. We will continue PAXLOVID as planned. His symptoms will be treated supportively with oral hydration [TYLENOL], and…albuterol inhaler that he uses as needed. His… ELIQUIS and…Crestor are being held during PAXLOVID treatment and for several days after his last dose. During this time, it is reasonable to add low dose aspirin as an alternative type of blood thinner.
As I stated previously, the President is fully vaccinated and twice-boosted, so I anticipate that he will respond favorably, as most maximally protected patients do. There has been nothing in the course of his illness thus far which gives me cause to alter the initial expectation. Early use of PAXLOVID provides additional protection against severe disease. He will isolate in accordance with CDC recommendations, and
he [we] will continue to monitor him closely, during this very common outpatient treatment regimen.
As promised, I will keep your office updated with any changes in his condition or treatment plan.
Respectively [Respectfully submitted], Kevin C. O’Connor.”
So I also wanted to update you on what the President has been up to and how he’s continuing to work hard on behalf of the American people.
Last night, the President signed the Baby Formula bill Congress passed. He also spoke with Senator Carper to see how he was feeling and to the hosts of yesterday’s DNC event to thank them for their flexibility.
This morning, the President received the President’s Daily Briefing virtually, as you all know.
He also met virtually with his economic team on the progress being made to lower gas prices for American families, as you all saw yourselves.
Dr. Jha and I spoke to the President over FaceTime this afternoon. I asked him if he had a message for the American people. The President said he is still — he is still putting in eight-plus hours of work a day and that he wants to remind Americans to get vaccinated because, in his own words, it matters.
Look, the President hopes the country will see that while we should continue to take COVID very seriously, we have the tools we need to deal with this.
President Biden is benefiting from two vaccines, two boosters. And he’s advocating for every American to take advantage of these vaccines and boosters, which we have made available for free at 90,000 convenient places nationwide.
And he’s benefiting from Paxlovid, a powerful antiviral we’ve made available at 42,000 locations, including local pharmacies across the country.
All Americans have access to the same vaccines, boosters, and treatment that President Biden is receiving right here at the White House.
And the President hopes that all Americans who are over 50 get boosted now, if they haven’t already, and get Paxlovid if they test positive.
Now I’m glad to return to the briefing room Dr. Jha, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, who is joining me today. And we’re happy to take some questions.
Go ahead, Dr. Jha. I know you have a few things that you wanted to share.
DR. JHA: Yeah. All right, good afternoon, everybody. I’m going to make a few remarks — some things similar to Karine.
First of all, good to be with all of you today. Just — you just heard Karine give an update on the President, and I’m happy to answer your questions about his health in a second. We — as you heard, we FaceTimed with the President earlier today.
I also spoke at length, multiple times today, with Dr. O’Connor.
And as you all saw just a few minutes ago, the President is doing better. He slept well last night. He ate his breakfast and lunch. (Laughter.) I — fully. He actually showed me his plate.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He showed — yeah, he did.
Q What was on the menu? (Laughter.)
DR. JHA: Didn’t ask about the menu, but I did see an empty plate with crumbs.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He did, yeah.
DR. JHA: And I have some guesses about what was there but didn’t ask.
Q No comfort food?
DR. JHA: (Laughs.) Didn’t ask.
I did ask him about his appetite. He joked that his one regret was that his appetite had not changed. (Laughter.)
Look, he is — he was, he is in a very good mood.
I want to take a step back and emphasize the message that you heard from Karine. As the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, what I think every American needs to hear, what the President laid out is that while we have a very contagious variant out there, thanks to this President’s leadership, we have the ability to manage this.
We are now at a point, I believe, where we can prevent nearly every COVID death in America. That is a remarkable fact.
So if you are vaccinated but have not gotten a booster, this is a really good time to go and get a booster. If you’re over 50 and haven’t gotten a vaccine shot in the year 2022, this is a really good time to go and get a shot. They are free. They are widely available. And as you heard, if you are over the age of 50 or have any kind of chronic condition that meets CDC criteria, please consider getting treated if you have a breakthrough infection.
And if you don’t have a regular doctor, you can go to COVID.gov and find a test-to-treat site near you.
I also want to share some data about the progress we are making both on vaccines and treatments just over the last couple of weeks.
Over the last seven days, we’ve gotten 2.2 million more shots into people’s arms. That’s the highest we’ve seen in a month.
More than 900,000 Americans have gotten their second booster shot in the last week. That’s the highest number in six weeks.
So, as Americans go about their daily lives this summer, they’re heeding the public health message, and not just on vaccinations, by the way; on treatments as well.
You know, when I started in this role about three — three and a half months ago, we were seeing less than 4,000 prescriptions a day of Paxlovid. Now Paxlovid prescriptions are at their highest level. Last week, about 40,000 courses of Paxlovid were prescribed every single day across America. It’s a remarkable fact.
And if you think about the fact that we have about 120,000 identified infections, even if you assume — assume that some infections are not getting identified because of home tests, it’s a large proportion of people getting Paxlovid. I think that’s really good. It’s preventing hospitalizations; it’s preventing deaths every day.
Overall, just so far in the month of July, 920,000, Americans have benefited from Paxlovid. We have secured 20 ma- — 20 million courses of Paxlovid; that’s the most in the world by a lot. And, again, we’ve made it widely available and, of course, free.
All right, let me finish by providing what I think is really the bottom line. It’s great to see the President doing better. He’s doing better because he is vaccinated, he is boosted, he’s getting treatments. He is getting world-class treatment, exactly what you would expect for the President of the United States.
And the President has made clear to us that it’s incredibly important to him and, therefore is incredibly important to all of us that all Americans have easy, free access to the same world-class treatment that he’s getting — vaccinations, therapeutics.
So my message to my fellow Americans really is this: Please avail yourself of this vaccine to build up your immunity. Please avail yourselves of treatments if you qualify, if you get infected. And let’s continue to do everything we can to prevent serious illness and death from this pandemic.
All right, thank you very much for listening. And I’m happy to take questions, as I know KJP is as well.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q A few quick ones. I know the White House released his elevated temperature level of 99.4 degrees. Can the White House provide specific numbers on his oxygen levels, blood pressure levels beyond just saying that they are normal? Would you be willing to release that information?
DR. JHA: You know, what I’ll say is: He gets his vital signs checked several times a day. So, of course, there are multiple numbers in there. All of his vitals — including his temperature, I would argue — but all of his vitals have always been in the normal range: his heart rate, his blood pressure, his oxygen level, and his temperature.
The 99.4 was the highest temperature he’s had in the last — well, 24 hours — but I would say since his diagnosis. But he’s had normal vital signs throughout the entire course of the disease.
Q And at — by this point, has the White House identified all close contacts of the President? And do they go beyond, I believe, the First Lady, the Vice President, and Ron Klain?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So the White House Medical — the White House Medical Unit has identified and informed 17 people determined to be close contacts of the President, including members of his senior staff. None of the staff members have tested positive to date, and all of them are wearing masks around other people, per CDC guidelines.
No members of the press have been identified as close contact as well.
And this — this also includes the member of congress that he traveled with recently.
Q And I just want to triple clarify the testing dates, because if — so if you said yesterday was day zero, today is obviously day one. Tuesday would be day five. So does that mean he won’t be tested until day six? And if he’s negative on Wednesday, then he could resume in-person activities? Is that the timeline we should be understanding?
DR. JHA: Yeah, so the — the — we’re going to — obviously, the CDC guidelines — right? — are five days of isolation. He will do that — those five days of isolation. He will be tested after he’s completed his five days of isolation.
And once he tests negative, he will return to work.
Q So he’d be first tested next on Wednesday?
DR. JHA: Yeah — yeah, again, I haven’t done the math, but yes, he’s going to do five full days of isolation. Today is day one; yesterday was day zero. And he’ll get tested after day five. And then, again, the moment that he turns negative, he’ll return to work.
Q And you guys both talked a lot about, obviously, the message from the President being “get vaccinated at this time.” But you also mentioned just how extremely contagious this variant is. So why not do additional mitigation — encourage additional mech- — mitigation measures like mask wearing indoors or other (inaudible) like that?
DR. JHA: You mean in general?
DR. JHA: Yeah, absolutely. And I have. Like, I did a COVID briefing, I don’t know, about a week ago in which we laid out our two-pronged strategy. I actually think I did it yesterday, where I said, “Two-pronged strategy: one to prevent serious illness, one to prevent infections.”
So in terms of mitigation — very, very clear. CDC guidelines on this are very clear: If you’re in one of the orange zones, people in indoor spaces should be wearing a mask. It’s a great way to prevent getting infected. It’s a great way of preventing spread.
Another important mitigation measure is using regular testing. The President obviously gets tested regularly. Many of us get tested regularly.
We have made — we have sent out 560 million tests, I believe — if that number is right; I think it’s 560 million tests — to Americans directly for free from COVIDTests.gov. People can go and get tests. Tests have become cheaper. You can get it through your health insurance. We think regular testing is another important mitigation measure.
And then we’re doing a whole series of work on trying to improve indoor air quality, improving ventilation, filtration.
So we are doing a lot on mitigation, and we talk about it. I’m talking about it now. But, you know, when we’re talking about the President — who is now infected — the key is to also remind people that we have a very contagious variant; people will get infected. Our absolute priority is making sure that when people get infected, they don’t get seriously ill.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Nancy.
Q Thanks. Dr. Jha, how frequently is the President being examined by a physician in person?
DR. JHA: Well, so the President is being — I mean, people are interacting with the President all day through Zoom and stuff.
Dr. O’Connor has been seeing him on a regular basis. I think — I don’t have the exact number of times that he saw him yesterday or today, but multiple times a day, either by phone call, by Zoom, physically examining him.
But the President is doing really well. So he doesn’t need an ongoing, you know, exam all the time. And — and obviously, he’s getting examined at least once a day. But Dr. O’Connor is interacting with the President on a regular basis.
Q And has the President been examined by any other physicians beyond Dr. O’Connor?
DR. JHA: Physically examined? I mean, I’ve spoken to him by FaceTime. Not that I know of. Not that I know of.
Q Was there a discussion about the possibility that eliminating the blood thinner, even for just five days, would increase the risk of a stroke because he’s on chronic atrial fibrillation?
DR. JHA: Yeah, so we, by the way, clinically do this a lot. I can’t remember — probably thousands of patients that I have taken care of over the years in the hospital, who come in who need a procedure, who are on blood thinners like Eliquis or other blood thinners. So we stop for short periods of time where people get procedures. We — they stop it because — he’s obviously stopped it because he’s on Paxlovid.
For atrial fibrillation, we think this a relatively low-risk thing to do. But Dr. O’Connor, as was part of the plan, has been consulting with experts around the country. And based on input that he got, he made the decision to give the President a short course of aspirin during that time.
Q So this was a discussion that took place — whether or not to go with Paxlovid over, say, a monoclonal antibody?
DR. JHA: You know, that decision was made by Dr. O’Connor. Paxlovid is the first-line agent that we recommend. That was a decision that Dr. O’Connor made.
And then we know that you have to look at somebody’s medication list and determine — do you have to make modifications. Dr. O’Connor made the decision to stop these two medicines. I talked about those are very reasonable. We — that’s what all the specialty societies recommend, that they be paused. And so then he — Dr. O’Connor made the decision to add aspirin for a short period of time.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Dr. O’Connor also said that the President is using an inhaler as needed. Does he regularly use an albuterol inhaler? Or is this something that was prescribed just to deal with the COVID symptoms?
DR. JHA: Yeah, so as all — I think all of you know, because it’s been disclosed for years, the President used to have asthma. He has what people talk about as “reactive airway disease,” which is people often, when they have a viral syndrome, or when they — some people get it when they go out in the cold, or some people get it when they exercise — can get a little bit of bronchospasm and — or a cough. The way to treat it is with an inhaler.
So the President has — the last time he used it, before this illness, was when he had a cold, I think, last fall at some point.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. Yeah.
DR. JHA: During that cold, he also had a little bit of cough that that comes with viral syndromes, and used it. So he does not use it on a regular basis. It’s not part of his regular medications, in the context of a viral syndrome.
Q You’ve been crediting the President’s boosters for part of the reason that his symptoms are so mild. Should all Americans, regardless of age, be eligible for that second booster? And if so, what’s the delay here?
DR. JHA: Yeah, so the FDA is very clear on this and we follow FDA scientists and their guidelines on this. People over 50, if it’s been at least five months, should get that second booster. I’ve been very vocal in my advocacy. I think the evidence here is overwhelmingly clear.
The data on people under 50, that’s something the FDA is continuing to examine. They have not made a determination that that is something that is warranted. And we really do follow the FDA guidelines on these things — authorization.
Q Dr. Jha, the CDC says that one third of Americans still haven’t been fully vaccinated. And you mentioned, I think it was to the New York Times, that Congress still hasn’t allocated enough funding for boosters into the fall. What is your message to Congress if they don’t allocate funding for boosters in the fall? And also, what’s your message to Americans who still refuse to get vaccinated?
And I have another question after that.
DR. JHA: Yeah, so let’s start with talking to Americans. I think what we’re seeing across the country is there are a lot of infections, but when people are vaccinated and boosted, they tend to have far less serious illness. This virus is going to be with us forever. It’s really, really important that people build up their immunity against this virus.
And so I’ve been very clear for years — I mean, two years — or a year and a half, I guess, since we’ve had vaccines — that getting vaccinated was — is one of the best ways that people have to protect themselves.
To Congress — you know, what I would say is Congress has been a great partner to this administration in terms of funding the COVID response, making sure that vaccines and therapeutics are widely available. And that’s one of the reasons we have plenty of vaccines right now.
But the problem is that we need to continue this effort. The reason we have seen so much progress is because we’ve had the resources to do the things that are necessary for the American people.
And if we take our foot off the gas and stop, you know, all this work that we are doing, we will slide backwards. And we do not want that. And we can do a lot in the administration, but we need funding to do all those things. And Congress is the part of our government that allocates funding.
So, my message to Congress is: It’s really important to continue to protect the American people. As we head into the fall and winter, we will need more resources. We need the resources now to prepare for the fall and winter. And it’s really important that Congress step up and do its part.
Q So, anyway, the — Dr. Rochelle Walensky had said that we’re kind of headed toward a “new normal” with COVID. And, currently, CDC says that 41,000 Americans are now hospitalized still, and 480 deaths a day — are dying from this disease. What does a “new normal” mean? And what is an acceptable number of deaths?
DR. JHA: Yeah. So, let me say two things. First of all, we’re clearly in a much better place than where we were. You have to have two — there are two sets of things that we have to be able to — things that sound contradictory, but actually we have to keep in our heads at the same time.
One is we’re in a much, much better place than where we were 18 months ago when the President took office. Deaths are down 90 percent. Four hundred — three hundred — four hundred — 480 deaths a day, totally unacceptable.
I mean, at 400 deaths a day, that’s like 130,000 deaths a year. That’s like three times worse than a bad flu season. That is not acceptable. It should not be acceptable. It certainly is not acceptable to this administration. And that is why we are here every day and — working and trying to inform Americans that the best way to reduce that number, the best way to make sure that fewer people die, fewer people get hospitalized is to make sure people have built up their immunity through vaccines and that people get treated when they have breakthrough infectious.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Trevor.
Q First for you, Dr. Jha, and then I have one for you too, Karine. So on bringing him down from the Eliquis, a number of physicians have suggested that having the dosage might also be — or might be a preferable option. Could you talk a little bit about why that course wasn’t taken?
DR. JHA: Yeah, there are several different ways of doing this. What I know is that — I spoke to Dr. O’Connor. He has consulted — and again, we had a plan that — you know, and Dr. O’Connor had a plan to consult experts at Walter Reed, at GW, elsewhere. He’s done those consultations. And based on that input, Dr. O’Connor made the decision to stop it for five-plus days and then start aspirin.
Q Why isn’t he briefing?
Q And just — sorry, just to clarify: And he has started the aspirin course, or that was just something that was recommended?
DR. JHA: He has started the aspirin course, as I understand it.
Q Okay. And then, for you, Karine: I didn’t hear in your introductory remarks a look ahead to next week. And I’m just curious if you’re — if you have anything — if this is going to delay the Xi meeting, for example. Where are we on that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So as far as President Xi, I don’t have anything to share on that. I know the President spoke to that a couple days ago. And he — his words was he’s expected to speak to him within the next 10 days. Nothing — again, nothing on his schedule to share at this time.
Look, when it comes to — when it comes to President Xi, we have kept open communications with China, as we have stated many times before, on the staff level.
The President last spoke to him in March. I don’t have anything more to add on that.
And, you know, when it comes to his schedule, we’ll — we’ll see how the President does. He’s improving, which we all should be thrilled that the President of the United States is doing better, according to Dr. O’Connor. That is good news. And we welcome that good news. And we continue to — to wish him well.
Q Karine, are the chances of serious complications behind the President now? Can you all at least speak to that?
DR. JHA: Yeah. You know, what I would say is he’s being — he’s continuing to be monitored very, very closely. It’s obviously day — this is day one, but it’s his second day that — since his infection was identified. I’m really happy to see that he is getting better. And we will continue monitoring very closely until he is — until he tests negative.
Q Are there any chances of serious complications? Or —
DR. JHA: I think the chances of serious complications for this President have been dramatically reduced by the building up of his immunity and getting him antiviral drugs — the things that really make a huge difference in lowering his risk. And that’s, I think, the most important part of this.
We’ll continue monitoring him. I’m — you know, and we’ll see how he does over the next few days.
Q Thank you.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: And I just wanted to add, as far a schedule and events: Look, the President was very active today. He has said he’s working eight-plus hours a day. And that is — he’s still doing the job of the President. So that does not end.
And we have put out photos and videos. You guys heard from him directly. So, I just wanted to add that as — as you’re asking about, you know, his schedule.
Q Just a quick follow-up to Mary’s question about the inhaler. Has the President used an inhaler since testing positive for COVID? Or was Dr. O’Connor just saying if he needs it, he will use it going forward?
DR. JHA: Yeah. What I understand is that he has used it a couple of times in the last — since testing positive. He’s got, as you may have heard, he’s got a cough. And I mentioned this yesterday; it’s in Dr. O’Connor’s note. Oftentimes, when people get viral syndromes and they get a cough, taking an inhaler can be helpful. So, he’s taking that.
Q But the use of the inhaler was not noted in his last physical, right?
DR. JHA: It’s not a regular medicine that he uses. Right? He really only uses it intermittently, largely when he gets viral — viral syndromes; when he gets colds, basically.
And so it’s not a regular medicine that he uses on an ongoing basis.
Q The other question I have for you, Dr. Jha: Vice President Harris is a close contact of the President’s, and the CDC guidance says that if you’re a close contact, you want to wear a well-fitting mask when you’re around other people. She just spoke at a conference in D.C. and she hugged someone without a mask on. She was also maskless for most of that conversation. Would you have recommended that she keep her mask on given that that is the CDC guidance?
DR. JHA: You know, I think I — I’m not sure what — I have not been tracking the Vice President’s activities, so I don’t have anything specific to say about what she did.
My understanding is that the Vice President is following CDC guidelines on close contact. She’s also recently been infected, so within the 90 days of a previous infection.
But I don’t know if you have anything else to offer on the Vice President?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, (inaudible).
Q I guess she isn’t following the CDC guidance though — right? — if she is hugging someone without a mask on? I just wanted your clarification on that.
DR. JHA: Yeah, I think the CDC guidance is clear. But I — you know, the problem is me commenting on what the Vice President did when I wasn’t actually — I haven’t seen it or I don’t actually know what happened is very, very difficult, so I’m going to pass on that.
Q She took off the mask and she embraced someone. You don’t have to see it. I mean, that’s what happened.
DR. JHA: Yeah, so usually when we think about people having contact, it’s for an extended period of time.
I don’t — again, I didn’t see the hug. I don’t know how long the hug lasted. But it’s very hard for me to comment on something I really didn’t see. So —
Q And, Karine, the President had said that he was going to receive a report on monkeypox today. Is that happening? What is the report? Do you know?
DR. JHA: Yeah, I don’t know where that report is. I know there is a report that has been written for the President. Whether the President has had a chance to see it yet today, I don’t know.
Q So it’s an internal report that he will be receiving from his advisors?
DR. JHA: Yes.
Q Will that be made public? Or —
DR. JHA: I don’t know which — I mean, the President gets lots of reports from his advisors. I don’t know which ones are — get made public. It’s just an update on the status of monkeypox.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I would just look at that as an update to the President on what we have been doing and responding to the monkeypox. I — it’s not a report to share out. It’s something for the President, which he gets very often, just to get a sense of the work that we’re doing on an issue.
So — go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Karine, just for — to clarify a couple of details for our accuracy in reporting: You said, of the 17 close contacts, one of them is a member of Congress? Is that —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I was saying it includes the members of Congress. I do not have the specific of — of each person. But —
Q Is that something you would be able to detail without identifying them — how many members of Congress?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we — we just want to be — privacy is incredibly important here.
Q So reach out to their offices directly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I would reach out to them directly.
What I’m saying is we’ve contacted 17 people. Within those 17 people, there is senior staff. And within those 17 people, it also includes members of Congress. And as — as to date, no one has — as to date, as far as we know, no one has tested positive.
Q And then, I guess, non-specific to those close contacts, but can you tell us: Is there anybody else on the White House campus right now who has tested positive this week?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, out of abundance of privacy to protect — to protect people’s privacy, our protocol is to only share if someone has had a close contact to the President and the four principals. That is just our protocol. We have to — we have to keep people’s privacy here, and that is incredibly important and we respect that.
Q Understood. So just for clarity, even if — without identifying names, we can’t do it? Totally get it.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, I’m not going to —
Q Can I just get —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m not going to share private information or private detail on anybody.
Q I want to get your reaction to Steve Bannon. But while we’re on this topic, can I ask you, Dr. Jha, very quickly: We don’t know what this is, but there could be earlier indications of what type of subvariant it is. You said it could happen within less than a week. Just for the sake — and I know it’s a bit of a hypothetical — but over the weekend, we may learn some more details. We may not see you.
BA.5, which is the most dominant subvariant right now, is that one that after you get that, you could be more inclined to get another one within a smaller period of time? In other words, someone who got something recently, is that when they’re more eligible or more able to get? Can you help people better understand your concern about it?
DR. JHA: Yeah, absolutely. So, BA.5 is the most immune-invasive variant we’ve seen. And what that means is that if you were infected three months ago, four months ago, your protection against getting re-infected with BA.5 is much lower.
If you were vaccinated five, six months ago, you’d have a much higher risk of getting a breakthrough infection.
If you’re infected with BA.5, what that means for future immunity, none of us know right now. Because it’s BA.5 — it’s just become dominant; it’s the primary. So, we don’t know what the implications are.
And we obviously don’t know what variant or subvariant the President was infected with.
Q I guess I should ask: How about if you just had it a month ago? Three months ago, I recognize it’s lower. But for someone who had it a month ago, if it’s immune — immune-invasive, does that mean you could get it within a month of having had another case?
DR. JHA: So, in — so it depends on what you had a month ago, right? And if it was — BA.5 wasn’t dominant then, but it was still present. Obviously, if you had BA.5 a month ago, then you’re much less likely to be able to get BA.5 now.
So, it just depends. We have seen occasionally people getting infected within that 90 days, but it is still relatively uncommon.
Q Thanks. Did you have any reaction to the Steve Bannon case? I know it’s over, and I know, obviously —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: What did you say? What was your last part? I missed the joke.
Q Well, I was just saying we could tell you wanted to address that. (Inaudible.) Yeah.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. Oh. So, look, I’m not going to comment specifically on that case. But, obviously, everyone should cooperate with the January 6 Committee. Our administration has made very clear this President finds what the Select Committee is doing — the January 6 Committee is doing very important, and people should be listening and learning from what happened on that very dark day.
And this is a very important committee where they’re working to get to the bottom of what happened on that day. It was an attack not just on our democracy, but also an attack on our law enforcement.
And, again, I’m not going to comment on that specifically. But, yes, people should obviously — should cooperate with the committee.
Q Thanks, Karine.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. Dr. Jha, are there any other medications that the President is prescribed that he occasionally takes that do not appear on his 2021 health summary?
DR. JHA: Yeah, not that I’m aware of.
Q Okay. And then, why are we not hearing from Dr. O’Connor on this? I understand that you’ve, you know, released statements from him. But yesterday we had a difficult time comparing the description of the symptom progression from Dr. O’Connor’s letter versus how you all laid it out in the briefing room. And then, Dr. Jha, you did some interviews this morning, but your last update from the President was at 10 o’clock the night before.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, a couple of hours ago — right? — at 11 o’clock, you got a detailed letter from Dr. O’Connor. You’ve — we’ve given you two detailed letters from Dr. O’Connor, and you’ve heard directly from here — from him.
Look, we — we —
Q No, we haven’t. We haven’t heard directly from him.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, you have. You’ve heard from the letter. That is hearing directly from him. We’re not playing telephone here. You’re hearing directly from the — from the physician.
Q A piece of paper is not “directly.”
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, it is. I mean, that’s — that is hearing directly from —
Q We’re hearing directly from Dr. Jha. That’s who we hear directly from.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: In his words — in his words, you are hearing directly from Dr. O’Connor, as I read out.
But I’m answering your colleague’s question here, so give me the second to do that. Thank you.
So, you’ve heard directly from him. And not only that, you have heard more, I would argue — easily argue — about a mild — mild symptoms of a virus than any other President.
We have — we have — Dr. Jha and I were here for an hour fielding questions. We’re here today answering questions. We are going to commit to making sure you’re hearing from Dr. O’Connor, from his daily report — detailed report from Dr. O’Connor.
And here — here’s the thing: Dr. Jha is one of the foremost expert in this — in this field when it comes to COVID. He also has dealt with COVID patients. He clearly is running our COVID response and is a medical doctor. And he knows how this process works.
And, again, we should feel good and be very happy that the President is doing better, that he is improving. This is the President of the United States. He’s improving. He’s reacting well to the treatments. And let’s not forget we have the tools to treat this because of the work that this President has done.
Q I understand the point you’re making that, you know, the President is improving; that Dr. Jha is a medical doctor that — obviously, a lot of, you know, experience running the COVID response unit.
But when we’ve got questions about, you know, his symptoms progressing — he had a fever last night; his cough is now loose as opposed to dry. And the first time we hear —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So he didn’t — he did not have a fever last night, just to make that clear. I think Dr. Jha made that very clear.
Q Is 99.4 not —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: 99.4 is not a fever. It’s not even a low-grade fever. So he did not have a fever last night.
Q Even though you treated it with Tylenol?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He treated it — he gave Tylenol. And I should actually let Dr. Jha speak to this more, because he is the medical doctor, which is why he’s joining me today at the briefing room. He gave — he gave the Tylenol for discomfort, which is not unusual if you have COVID. Many of you have had COVID.
We would argue that if we probably take the temperature of some people here, they might have a 99.4-degree Fahrenheit temperature. That is not uncommon.
But I would let Dr. Jha speak to that more.
DR. JHA: Yeah, and let me —
Q Are you saying we’re hot-blooded?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: (Laughs.)
DR. JHA: Let me — let me just talk about the — Dr. O’Connor. And so you — you’ve heard directly from him, as Karine said, in terms of the notes that he writes every morning.
He and I, he and Dr. Fauci — all of us talk multiple times during the day. Dr. Fauci is the President’s chief medical advisor and, obviously, one of the foremost experts
on infectious diseases. We speak very regularly. I’ve been connecting, speaking every day with the President, today by FaceTime.
And you’re getting updates sort of about twice a day. Right? You got one yesterday at this time. Early this morning, you got an update about how he was through last night. I was on TV at 6:40 in the morning. Did not think it was appropriate for me to call the President at 6:20, wake him up, and say, you know, “How you feeling?” I think he’d be — like, probably would tell me that he would be feeling better if I hadn’t called and woken him.
So — but, you know, obviously he was seen early this morning, he was examined, and then immediately we put out information about the President’s status overnight. I’m now here to give you more information about that.
The point is, like, we’re giving you information —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.
DR. JHA: — on a very, very regular basis. And we’re doing it as a team with all of us. So —
Q It’s confusing though because when — when you described — when his letter has described his 99.4-degree non-fever as being treated with Tylenol, and now we’re hearing from you that he was treated for discomfort, that’s an inconsistency.
DR. JHA: Yeah, so I’ll have to pull up the letter. But what I understand and spoke to Dr. O’Connor, spoke to the President — and those of you who know, 100-point — because I’ve been taking care of patients for 20-some-odd years — 100.4 is what we consider a low-grade fever; 101.5 is what we consider a regular fever. 99.4 is very much within the normal range.
Most people are between 97 and 99. People tend to have slightly higher temperatures later in the day and into the evening. This is often why we see fevers often come up, for people who actually have fever, in the evening.
I told you yesterday the patient was — “patient” — well, the patient — the President — was feeling tired, and he just didn’t feel as great yesterday. He feels much better today, by the way.
And for anybody who’s ever had a viral syndrome — I assume many of you have had a cold in your life, many of you have had COVID, many might — might have had a flu — when you just don’t feel great, taking Tylenol helps you feel better.
And so Dr. O’Connor gave him some Tylenol early in the evening and — but noted, because his temperature was 99.4 — he just noted his temperature was 99.4. That was the highest temperature the President has had in the last 24 hours, or since he was found to be infected. And — and so he noted that as a part of his treatments.
But the President has had no fevers. 99.4 is the highest temperature the President has had so far. And the President is continuing to do better and feel better today.
Q Will you continue to do these briefings throughout the weekend?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I already spoke to that. As — well, I actually may — I may not have spoken to that. I’m — it’s — I’m excited to hear that you guys want to hang out with us over the weekend. (Laughter.)
Q We do. Ev- — as much as possible, (inaudible), as a matter of fact.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Wow. (Laughs.) Okay.
Look, we are going to continue — in all seriousness, we’re going to continue to provide updates from the President’s physician, as we have; detailed report, as you guys have been receiving. And we’ll see you guys on Monday. We’re not going to be here over the weekend, but we will be communicating as we have been the last 24 — 24 hours ago.
Q Will we get videos of him or see him newly every day?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can’t — I can’t promise anything right now or commit to any — any — any specific —
Q Well, if there’s any change in his status?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: If there’s any change — again, you’re going to get a daily report from the President every day, and so that will provide any information about his health.
But I just want to reiterate this: The President is improving. He has very mild symptoms of a vi- — of a virus. And we should be thrilled that the President of the United States is doing better.
And again, it’s because of the treatments —
Q Without injecting bleach?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well — (laughter) — you’re — that’s the wrong administration. You’re asking the wrong administration that question.
But again, you know, we have the tools, and that’s why we’re able to give him the treatment. And also, you know, this is what the President has been working on for the past year and a half: to make sure that the treatment that he’s getting others can.
So, again, folks could get — should get vaccinated if they haven’t, and they should get boosted as well.
We’re going to continue. Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. Speaking of this weekend, are you aware of any plans to schedule events, briefings, meetings for the President while he’s in isolation, or is it the expectation he’ll just watch TV all day?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, it’s a similar question that I just got. Right now, we’re going to cont- — what we commit to is making sure you all hear a detailed report from the President’s physician. If we have more information, we will share that with all of you.
Q But no plans for him to engage in activities or anything like that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Again, if we have more to share, we will share that. I don’t have anything right here at the podium to share — to share with you.
Q What can you tell us about — other than, for example, the official photographer or videographer, who else is actually in the room with the President? Is he being staffed? Is the Chief of Staff actually in the room with him or anyone else?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, all — primarily, all of his meetings have — have been virtual. You saw one meeting just moments ago, right before we started this briefing, with his economic team. You all had an opportunity to go into the South Court Auditorium to hear directly from the President. So, primarily, all of his meetings have been virtual.
He is following CDC gui- — guidance when it comes to a very, very, very small footprint around him. As you saw, the videographer, the photographer was with him. They were socially distanced at six feet. They wore an N95 mask. We are making sure that we keep to — he is making sure that he is isolating and keeping to the CDC guidelines.
Q So just — as far as you know, just the videographer, the photographer, small footprint?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: A very small footprint. I don’t have a list for you at this time, but very small footprint. He is indeed adhering to the CDC guidelines.
Q Following up on Jacqui’s question, can we just clarify for the record the timeline of the President’s illness? Dr. O’Connor’s letter — the first letter yesterday said that symptoms, or at least the cough, started Wednesday evening. And in the briefing, Dr. Jha, yesterday you said he wasn’t symptomatic until Thursday morning. So can we just get a — when did symptoms actually start?
DR. JHA: Yep. And I spoke to the President and I asked him directly on Wednesday evening, two evenings ago. He felt fine all day, felt fine in the evening. The only thing he said he felt before he went to bed was he felt tired.
He had — so, he did not have a cough, did not have any other symptoms on Wednesday night. Now, whether that tiredness is part of COVID or whether he had just had a long day — he had been standing outside in 95-degree temperatures speaking. Again, I sometimes look at the President’s schedule and I get tired looking at his schedule.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.
DR. JHA: So we don’t know. But he felt a little tired. He — he went to bed, and then he said he had a — sort of a restless night. Just didn’t sleep well. Woke up multiple times.
Again, is that a COVID symptom? It’s hard to say, right? I mean, people have restless nights. They have — they’re tired before they go to bed.
The next morning, he was — he got tested as part of his routine testing. What Dr. O’Connor described to me was he asked questions like, “How you doing? How you feeling?” As the antigen test came back positive, he began to probe more, obviously. As the PCR test was being done, “Are you really feeling okay?” And the President said, “Well, I — I sort of do feel like I have this bit of a runny nose and a little bit of a of a cough.” And those things, the President said he’d really been aware of just — that — in the morning, around that time.
That’s what Dr. O’Connor described to me. That’s what the President described to me as timeline. And — and that’s how I understand the symptom progression.
Q And, Karine, two of the events that the President has had to pull down for now are political ones. There was the fundraiser in Philadelphia, DNC event in Florida. Is he concerned at all about — you know, one of the things he wanted to do moving forward was really start drawing this contrast message with Republicans ahead of the midterms. I know he’s working a lot remotely, but is he worried at all about the — sort of the political piece of his job suffering right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he’s not worried. He’s going to continue to do the work that you’ve seen him do. He’s going to — he’s also making phone calls. He’s having these virtual meetings that we have provided.
But, you know, this is a — this is a — as we know, COVID is not unusual. Right? This is something that we were prepared — we were preparing for. This — there is treatment. Right? There are tools to make sure that we all — you know, we all are able to deal with COVID in this current time. And, you know, and we’ll continue to move forward on that. But he’s not — he’s not concerned.
Q These are two questions for Dr. Jha. What precisely is the President’s most recent blood oxygen level? You called it “normal,” but that’s a little vague. I wonder if you could put some more specificity on that.
DR. JHA: Yeah. So, he gets his oxyg- — he gets all of his vitals checked several times a day.
And what I will say is he’s not short of breath. He was breathing fine. He’s obviously on room air. His oxygen levels have consistently be in the norm- — have consistently been in the normal range throughout the entire 36 or whatever number of hours since he’s tested positive.
There have been no concerns around his oxygen level. He feels fine. He’s not been — obviously, he’s been on room air the whole time. Hasn’t felt short of breath. His oxygen levels have been normal.
Q Could you give us, like, what that range would be?
DR. JHA: What the normal range is?
Q Right. What is “normal”?
DR. JHA: I mean, I think you can look up —
DR. JHA: He — look, I — what I will say is that there’s never been any concern about his oxygen. His oxygen levels have always been normal throughout the whole time that he’s been infected and getting tested.
Q Just one more follow-up. And when do you expect that you will have identified which variant has infected the President?
DR. JHA: It’s a very good question. As I think I mentioned yesterday, it typ- — typically it takes about a week to do genetic sequencing.
As I said, this — this virus is going to get a little bit of special treatment because this is the President, so we know it’s going to get expedited. It usually takes a week because, A, there’s some time in actual sequencing. But this is going to — you know, they’re going to sort of prioritize getting this sequence.
So I don’t — I don’t actually have a date and a time that I’m expecting it. My assumption is it’s going to be faster than a week, but we will see. My hope is early next week sometime.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead.
Q Thanks, Karine. Just jumping on Steve’s question. I just want to be clear: You’re saying, primarily, the meetings have been virtually. Other people can be in a room on a virtual meeting. I just want to be clear: Are you saying that Ron Klain nor any other officials — top officials have been in the room —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: From my understanding —
Q — with President Biden?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: From my understanding, the meetings that he has had with his top officials have been virtually.
Q Does that mean no other officials in the room with him though?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That’s my — that is my understanding.
Q Okay. Thank you.
And if I could just ask about the January 6th hearings. Do you know if the President had a chance to watch them? Did — any reaction regarding the hearings last night?
And also, our understanding is that he was planning to address them. Obviously, that’s not going to happen in the next couple of days. But is there a plan to address the January 6th hearings in the near future?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: There — there’s no plan at this time for the President to address the hearing.
I can tell you that I spoke to — I asked the President if he was able to watch the hearings last night. He told me he caught some of it — the beginning of the hearings.
And I will say what we have said and reiterate what we have said many times: The President believes that it was a very dark day in our time, in our — in our — in our history, in our democracy, when we saw the attack that we — that happened at the Capitol, when we saw the attack on our law enforcement.
And he believes that — he supports the January 6 committee. He believes that they’re doing important work. And he really believes that the American people should be watching and paying attention.
I know that was their last hearing last night. But he did — he was able to catch some of it.
Q On the part that he caught last night, did he share anything about those specific — those specific parts? Any thoughts about how —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, he didn’t share —
Q — (inaudible)?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He didn’t share specific parts. I did not ask him. I just asked if he was — if he was able to catch some of the hearing last night.
Go ahead, Zolan.
Q Thank you. A couple clarifying questions. I know you said that is (inaudible). Even Dr. O’Connor said, after citing his temperature of 99.4 degrees — said: After Tylenol, his — quote, “His temperature has remained normal since then.” I know you said the numbers have ranged a little bit. But can we just have the most updated number — the most updated temperature from today that the President was experiencing? Like, what was — what was — what temperature did he record this morning?
DR. JHA: I don’t know that. What I will say is that his temperatures have always been in the normal range. Again, he’s getting his vitals checked several times a day.
The highest temperatures he’s had so far is 99.4; that was the temperature from last evening — which, again, in my 20-plus years of clinical experience, I have never called an elevated temperature, certainly not a fever.
And all of his vital signs — heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, temperature — have all been in the normal range every time he’s had them checked.
Q Understood. 99.4 isn’t considered a fever based off CDC guidance. But Dr. O’Connor still said his temperature has remained normal “since then” — since he recorded a 99.4-degree temperature.
DR. JHA: Yeah.
Q So if — if he’s saying since — “normal since then,” that would indicate that it was not in the normal range. How did he describe it —
DR. JHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Q — the temperature at that point?
DR. JHA: So, I’ve — I talked to Dr. O’Connor about this and — no, did not. I mean, basically about — about the President.
Often in clinical practice, especially when you have somebody who’s infected and you’re reporting on that person, you often report that person’s highest temperature. We call it the “Tmax,” or maximum temperature of the last 24 hours. And that is what Dr. O’Connor was doing in the — in that moment. He was reporting the highest temperature that the President has had, which turns out to be in the normal range. So his highest temperature in the last 24 hours, or since he got infected — or since he’s been known to be infected — has been 99.4 and has remained — has remained in the normal range. So you can read that in two different ways if we try to parse it.
It was in the normal range and has remained in the normal range since then.
Look, we could try to parse out the words. The bottom line is: The President is doing better. His vitals are normal. You all saw him. His appetite is good. (Laughter.) He’s doing pretty well. Right? Thank goodness — and, by the way, right? Because he is — we’re all thrilled. I suspect you’re all thrilled. I know the American people are relieved. This is all good. And the President is doing better.
He’s obviously going to be — continue to be monitored. He’s going to remain in isolation. Will — you know, he’ll get tested once he’s done with his isolation period.
But the big-picture point here is the President is doing better today than he was yesterday. And yesterday, he had mild symptoms. Today, he’s feeling even a little bit better. He’s doing well.
Q Okay. Just another to clarify. Just — I understand there’s been questions about Dr. O’Connor, but does the White House plan on making him available for questions, making him available to the public at any point?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We feel that Dr. O’Connor’s statements and his detailed report — again, on a — on a — on a situation as the — as the doctor just said, is mild — very mild. And he’s able to continue to do his work — is enough.
We have Dr. Jha here, who’s a medical doctor, who is — who is renowned in this field for COVID, who is — for the COVID response, and what we’ve been seeing for the last 22 mon- — 21 months.
And so we wanted to make sure we provided that expertise. And that’s what we’re doing.
And, again, Dr. O’Connor is providing detailed information on the President’s physical health at this time.
Q Absolutely appreciate the letter. Just, you don’t — you don’t think there would be additional value, even just for assuring the public and giving the press the opportunity to ask some —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: We are assu- —
Q — follow-up questions — him directly?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I hear you. We are assuring the public. We’ve been here now, I don’t know, 45 minutes talking to all of you. We were here an hour talking to all of you answering questions, fielding questions.
And to be quite honest, you know, there’s nothing — I don’t — we don’t believe and Dr. O’Connor believes there’s nothing more that he could add to what’s already in his report.
And so, again, we’re going to keep that commitment in providing information every day — a detailed, detailed information from Dr. O’Connor.
Q But —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: But we’re — we’ve — we’ve answered this question many times, so let’s —
Q Just — just a Secret Service —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — let’s give your other colleagues —
Q Just a Secret Service question.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. Okay.
Q The Secret Service’s recordkeeping is obviously in the news, particularly around January 6th. This is also a cybersecurity agency as well. I know that — I’m not asking a question about specific allegations, but does the President think that a federal agency should, you know, have a system that purges texts, including around, you know, for employees that have a sensitive job such as, you know, protecting the former President of the United States, or current?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, of course we believe in following the public records rules. That is something that we believe that should be done, should be followed.
And — but I will say this, because this is, I think, important: The President has confidence in the men and women who protect not just him, but also his family.
Q You mentioned how the President is feeling better today, but he still sounded a little more hoarse during his remarks. Is that at all any sort of cause of concern? Or is that just kind of, you know —
DR. JHA: I don’t know if any of you have ever had a cold or a viral syndrome. I find that when I’ve had in the past, sometimes I start feeling better but my voice sounds a little bit raspier. I think that’s what you heard today.
He — look, when we spoke to him, he was energetic. He’s got a pretty packed schedule. He’s clearly feeling better. He says he’s feeling better.
And he’s got this cough. And what happens when you get cough is, like, after a while, your throat can get a little bit — your voice can get a little bit hoarse, and I suspect that’s what’s going on here.
Q I just have one more clarifying question on the President’s temperature last night. Was it taken as part of routine or was it taken because of some discomfort, as you had mentioned earlier?
DR. JHA: No, it was just taken as part of his routine vitals.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Go ahead, Karen.
Q Thanks, Karine. This can be for either of you or both of you. In the conversations that you’ve had with the President, has he expressed any regrets about the recent mitigation or protocols he’s taken in the last two weeks — say, regrets about not wearing a mask at some point or somewhere he went that he — why he got COVID? Has he said anything like that?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No. I mean, you know the President. The President likes to interact and engage with the American public. What you’ve seen the last couple of weeks, the last several months, I would argue the last several years, is Joe Biden being Joe Biden.
And the reason why he has done the work that he has done since he walked into this administration on making sure that there is a comprehensive COVID response, making sure there’s vaccines, making sure there’s boosters, making sure there’s Paxlovid so that people are getting the treatment that the President is getting right now, currently, is so that we can get back — back close to normal. Right? We’re getting there.
And this is part of his job, is to interact with the public, is interact with everyday people. So, he does not regret that.
DR. JHA: And let me just add that — exactly as Karine said: We’ve heard nothing to that effect.
But it’s — generally, there’s a broader and important point, which is I — I find, partly because I’ve been so involved and so identified with COVID — right? — over the last two years. A lot of people call me when they get a positive diagnosis, and they say, “I’m sorry. I failed.” It’s not a failure. There’s not a moral failure. This is not a problem.
Like, look, it’s a very contagious virus. It’s widespread. People will get infected. We should be doing things that — as a country, we have a whole set of policies that we recommend to try to keep infection numbers down. But the key is to try to continue to protect people from serious illness. That’s what we’ve done with the President. That’s what we have available for every American. And that’s, I think, the most important point.
Q I have one more. You’ve mentioned a couple times today that the President has said he’s working eight hours a day. Obviously, you said he’s sleeping and you didn’t want to call him this morning. Can you just give us a little sense of what else he’s doing when he’s not working those eight hours, when he’s not sleeping? The First Lady is not here right now. What — how else is he spending his time? (Laughter.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: He’s — I mean — I mean eight —
Q Is he watching TV? Is he reading anything?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — eight-plus hours is a — is — you know, that is pretty —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: — that is pretty busy for someone who is — who’s, you know, mild symptoms with a virus.
Look, you know, the President is always working. He can work from anywhere.
Q I just mean a little color. Is he —
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, I — I’m getting there.
Q People want to know is he watching Netflix right now. (Laughs.)
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I’m getting there, Karen. I’m getting — I’m getting there. I’m getting there.
And so, look, I asked him if he watched the January 6th public hearing; he said he caught some of it. So that is something that you can — you can see that he was doing last night.
And, you know, but he wakes up in the morning and he gets to work. It is, as you know, a big job being the President of the United States, being the Commander-in-Chief. So he is doing everything that he would have done if he was in the Oval Office, except right now he is in the White House Residence.
So there’s not — besides the fact that he is doing this in the Residence, there’s not much difference. Right? He is working those long hours, trying to deliver for the American public.
Q Karine, a follow-up to that question. Should the President walk more now or should he walk less? Should he now rest now that he — you know, during this time? Because I see the White House is trying to show how, you know, the President is working hard, he’s doing great — you know, videos. And — but is he not supposed to rest more right now?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Well, Doctor, that’s — that’s something for you.
DR. JHA: Yeah, I mean, I think, in general, it’s good for people to rest when they get infections. But the bottom line is this President has a big agenda, and he has a lot that he wants to do. And he’s — he sets his schedule of work.
You know, as I said here yesterday, I think it’s important when people get sick — as a broader policy matter, I think it’s important, as a physician, for people to get rest, people be able to get time off. But the President right now feels well enough to continue working, and he has continued to work at a brisk pace.
And, you know, as a physician, I will always encourage people to get more rest. But the President is doing the work of the American people.
Q And then, Karine, on the U.S.-Africa summit that the President announced this week, can you talk a little bit about that? How many people, who will be invited, and what’s the process of selecting people?
Will human rights play a key role? And if yes, you know, how do you contrast that to the President’s trip to Saudi Arabia?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So I’ll say this: The President is very much looking forward to meeting with African leaders who will be here at the end of this year. And this — there’s a lot of — a lot to discuss. There will be a lot on the agenda. And it is going to be his first time meeting with leaders.
We will have more to share. I don’t have more details to share at this time on who was invited and the process and what’s going to be on the agenda.
As you imagine, there’s still a few more months before we get there. And so, we’ll be happy to share more and have background calls and provide all the details to that once we get closer.
Q Dr. Jha, to follow up on Nancy’s question, what is a normal blood oxygen level for someone of the President’s age and that have past history and sometimes has to use an inhaler?
DR. JHA: So, age is not a determinant of oxygen level. And somebody who’s had a past history of asthma or occasionally has reactive airway disease also should not be a determinative of oxygen level.
I have to tell you, I can’t remember off the top of my head what the CDC defines as the exact normal range. It’s in the 90s. But I’d have to just sort of look up. But his has been consistently in the normal range.
Q And, Karine — oh sorry.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: No, go ahead.
Q Would you guys commit to having the Do- — Dr. O’Connor put in some of these vitals so that we can, you know, stop asking, pestering you guys with those questions? We appreciate the — you know, the daily letter. But especially his oxygen levels — as someone who had COVID twice, I know how important it is.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: That is going to be something up to the Doctor and the President. I can’t make —
Q Will you ask him?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: I can’t — I can’t make any commitments on that.
Again, we believe we have been providing detailed information on — we’ve got to remember: The President is having very mild symptoms. The President is feeling better. He is improving. We are giving more information on a President that has — that’s having very mild symptoms than any other president.
We are being as transparent as we — as we are here today. And I’m going to — we’re going to take, like, one more question because we’ve been standing here for about an hour taking and fielding questions.
And you’re going to continue to hear from Dr. O’Connor via his letter. We’re going to take one last question.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q One on the economy, if you don’t mind.
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Oh. Oh my goodness.
Q Next week is a very big week for the economy. So, I read the CEA blog. Is the White House trying to change the common definition of a recession? Because next Thursday, the GDP numbers coming out are going to show that we’ve been in recession.
So let me say this: You know, the strength of our labor market, along with the other economic factors, is what we generally see in a recession or even a pre- — a pre- — what — is not what we generally see in a recession, or even a pre-recession, because we’re seeing the strength of the economy and the labor market.
So that’s really important to note back there because those are key elements, as we talk about that, as folks keep asking us about that.
So Americans across the country are back to work at a historic level. Twenty-one states — the most in history — have unemployed rates — unemployment rates at or below 3 percent. That is an important number to note. Fourteen states are now at their lowest unemployment rates since the series began in 1976. And last month, the unemployment rate was a new low in eight states.
So, again, the strength of our labor market, along with the economic indicators, is not what we generally see as we talk about recession or even pre-recession.
Q But the growth of the jobs for the three-month trend — the growth — the job growth in the U.S. is shrinking, is decreasing. And 7.5 million people, a growing number, are multi-jobs, meaning they have to work more than one job to afford living. So is jobs really a good indicator?
MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, here’s what I would say: We’ve always talked about the strength of our economy. We’ve always talked about how historic it’s been. And we’ve always talked about the transitioning — right? — the transitioning to more stable and steady growth.
And so to your point about the job growth there, this is what we have been kind of stating for the past several months. Look, you know, the economy created 1.1 million jobs in the second quarter. And so — and around 375 jobs per month. Those are historic numbers. Those are — if you think about the 1.1 million jobs, we are back to where we were at a pre-pandemic level. So that is what we see as strength of the economy.
Again, we’re going to transition into a more stable and steady growth. And so we’re going to continue the work that the President has set out to do to make sure that we continue to deliver for the American people when it comes to the economy.
All right, folks. Thank you so much.
Q A final question for Dr. Jha? Just one more on the President.
DR. JHA: Thanks, everybody.
Q Thank you.
4:51 P.M. EDT