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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Pandemics

By Jarrett Renshaw and Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again on Saturday in what the White House doctor described as a "rebound" case seen in a small percentage of patients who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

Biden, 79, who emerged from COVID isolation on Wednesday after testing positive on July 21, said he was feeling fine.

He will now return to strict isolation and will cancel planned trips to his home in Wilmington and to Michigan, the White House said. Biden held public events on Wednesday and Thursday, but none on Friday.

The forced isolation comes as the White House is hoping to celebrate some recent legislative victories to help boost Biden's slumping poll ratings.

Biden had planned the Michigan trip to tout Thursday's passage of legislation to boost the U.S. semiconductor chips industry.

Biden's positive test is believed to be a "rebound" experienced by some COVID patients who take the anti-viral drug Paxlovid, according to White House physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor. Paxlovid is an antiviral medication from Pfizer Inc that is used to treat high-risk patients, such as older patients.

A small but significant percentage of people who take Paxlovid will suffer a relapse or a rebound that occurs days after the five-day treatment course has ended, studies have shown.

White House officials had previously suggested a rebound case of COVID was unlikely, based on reports of cases around the country. However, Biden continued to be tested and monitored.

Biden tweeted about his positive case, saying it can happen to a "small minority of folks." He later posted a video on Twitter where he said he was "feeling fine" and "everything's good."

A White House official said contact tracing efforts were underway Saturday after Biden's positive COVID-19 test.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci also experienced rebound COVID-19. His symptoms got worse when they returned after treatment, and his doctors prescribed another course of Paxlovid.

O'Connor said Biden tested negative for the last four days, and there is no plan to reinitiate treatment given his lack of symptoms.

Biden previously described his experience with COVID as mild, saying he was able to continue working while in isolation and attributed his relative ease with the disease to vaccines and other treatments.

O'Connor had previously said Biden would be tested regularly to watch for a potential "rebound" COVID-19 case, which can be experienced by some patients who have been treated with Paxlovid, the drug the president received.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder, David Shepardson and Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Aurora Ellis, Alistair Bell and Diane Craft)

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President Joe Biden

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A strong June jobs report released on Friday showed that the private sector has now recovered every job that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of people were laid off during former President Donald Trump's tenure.

The news came after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the economy added 372,000 jobs in June, exceeding economists' expectations and keeping the unemployment rate at 3.6 percent, a level most economists regard as "full employment."

The milestone came a little more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, which caused the stock market to plummet and employers to slash 22 million jobs.

The private sector has bounced back faster than many had previously thought it would. Some economists had predicted it could take as many as four years for the millions of jobs that were lost to return.

The White House celebrated the jobs number, touting the speed of the recovery from the pandemic slump.

"This has been the fastest and strongest jobs recovery in American history, and it would not have been possible without the decisive action my administration took last year to fix a broken COVID response, and pass the American Rescue Plan to get our economy back on track," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Biden, who rarely brings up his predecessor by name, said the employment situation is now better than it ever was during Trump's time in office.

"We have more Americans working in the private sector today than any day during Donald Trump's presidency — more people than any time in our history," Biden said.

Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, also celebrated the news that the private sector is now at pre-pandemic levels. "The strength of this labor market is historic," Deese told the Washington Post on Friday.

The report has eased some fears of an impending economic recession. Even Fox Business said the jobs report "doesn't look like an economy in recession."

Good economic news could help Democrats in this year's midterm elections, as economic concerns top voters' list of issues heading into November.

Democrats, for their part, touted the stimulus bills they've passed as one of the reasons for the labor market's recovery, including the American Rescue Plan in 2021.

"This isn't a coincidence," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) tweeted, referring to the fact that the job market recovered from its pandemic losses. "This is thanks to our recovery efforts like the American Rescue Plan."

Democratic lawmakers also called out their Republican colleagues who voted against their efforts to stimulate the economy with increased government aid.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) chastised Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) after the Georgia Republican criticized Biden for the 3.6 percent unemployment rate, despite saying the same number was "strikingly low" in 2019 when Trump was president.

"You call an identical unemployment rate 'strikingly low' and credited the president for creating a third as many jobs, but then of course, that president was a Republican," Beyer quipped.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.