President Biden on Friday assured reporters that his raspy voice and persistent cough are the result of a cold he contracted from his toddler grandson, and not a case of COVID-19.
Mr. Biden, who turned 79 last month, coughed his way through a White House speech on the Department of Labor’s jobs report. The speech was also delivered in a raspy voice that sounded different from his usual delivery.
When pressed about the hacking cough, Mr. Biden chalked it up to an overly-affectionate grandchild.
“What I have is a one-and-a-half-year-old grandson who had a cold, who likes to kiss his pop. And he had been kissing…anyway…it’s just a cold,” he said.
Mr. Biden added that he is tested for COVID every day, and doctors check for all the strains.
“I’m ok, I have a test every day,” the president said.
The president last month was declared “fit for duty,” according to a memo penned by Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who gave the president a complete physical.
However, Dr. O’Connor noted that Mr. Biden’s cough warranted further “investigation,” but attributed it to gastroesophageal reflux.
The report said that the president has experienced “increasing frequency and severity of throat clearing and coughing during speaking engagements.”
“He has exhibited such symptoms for as long as I have known him, but they certainly seem to be more frequent and more pronounced over the last few months,” Dr. O’Connor wrote.
The explanation for Mr. Biden’s coughing has changed over the past few months.
In October, after Mr. Biden repeatedly coughed throughout public remarks at an event, White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the coughing as allergies.
“He’s doing great. He has got some allergies,” she said.
“I think there are a range of reasons why we may need to clear our throat or we may have a little light cold. And that’s certainly something that presidents, elected officials, reporters, spokespeople can confront, but it’s not an area where we have a medical concern,” Ms. Psaki said.
In December of 2020, Mr. Biden, who was president-elect at the time, coughed through a speech, again blaming it on a cold.