On Thursday, President Joe Biden revealed a positive test for COVID-19. Since then, the White House says he’s recovered nicely and he has emerged from self-isolation.
But observers have noticed something odd about him since his illness.
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Biden released a video in response to former President Donald Trump’s speech Wednesday. In the video, Biden went a very, very long time without blinking, and he stirred speculation about a facelift.
“Pretending to have covid so you can recover from a face lift is so me,” one Twitter user joked.
“This is so scary,” another user said, attaching an animated GIF of Biden’s zoomed-in face. A third user added some haunted-house music to the video.
Biden has faced speculation about cosmetic surgery, a common procedure for politicians of his age, in the past.
“Joe Biden definitely had a facelift. After reviewing photos over the years the scars along the ear cartilage (tragus) is being pulled outward… most likely at least a year or so old,” Dr. Steven Davis, a plastic surgeon in New Jersey, told OK magazine in 2020. “He’s had Botox injections around the brows but not so much on his forehead.”
“If he had a face lift, he needs another,” Dr. Barry Cohen, a plastic surgeon in Washington, D.C., told the Washington Examiner in 2019. “I suspect he has regular Botox and probably filler.”
Former President Donald Trump once mocked Biden going on television after an “awful facelift,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Michael Bender reported last year. Trump did not mention the facelift publicly.
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One local politician in Miami speculated that the video might be a “deepfake.”
Evidently, Biden saw nothing wrong with the video. He shared it on his own account.
“You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-cop,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s speech on Tuesday. “Donald Trump lacked the courage to act [during the Capitol riot]. The brave women and men in blue all across this nation should never forget that.
Some observers acknowledged Biden’s strange appearance but also praised Biden for actually sounding coherent.
“Serious question because he at least gets through this one fine,” one user remarked. “What is going on with Biden’s eyes here?”
Take a look —
pretending to have covid so you can recover from a face lift is so me https://t.co/PkYLpeEgxG
— Bʀᴀɴᴅᴏɴ (@bjbjonez) July 26, 2022
Back to the Oval.
Thanks to Doc for the good care, and to all of you for your support. pic.twitter.com/Cfzn1zAKJF
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 27, 2022
Biden ended his COVID isolation the day after releasing the video. He credited his swift recovery to both the antiviral drug Paxlovid and the vaccines developed under Trump.
“You don’t need to be president to get these tools to be used for your defense,” he said in the Rose Garden. “In fact, the same booster shots, the same at-home test, the same treatment that I got is available to you.”
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After two years, the pandemic has killed more than 1 million people in the U.S., but Biden emphasized that people are far less likely to die from the disease despite a wave of new infections caused by a contagious variant known as BA.5, which is believed to have sickened the president as well.
“You can live without fear by doing what I did,” he said. “Get boosted, get tested, and get treatment.”
He talked more about treatment than prevention, a sign of how the pandemic and his approach has evolved.
Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, allowing him to end his isolation.
The variant that likely infected the president, BA.5, is an offshoot of the omicron strain that was first detected last year. It’s now responsible for 82% of cases in the country, with its cousin BA.4 contributing another 13%.
The latest variants are able to evade protection offered by vaccination, but the combination of vaccines and booster shots still lower the risk of hospitalization and death. More than 43,000 people in the U.S. are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and about 430 die each day.
Paxlovid, an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19, has also helped prevent more severe illness. Biden completed a five-day course of the pills.
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Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physician, wrote in Wednesday’s update that the president remains free of fever and had not used Tylenol in the past 36 hours.
Biden’s symptoms were almost “completely resolved,” O’Connor reported.
“Given these reassuring factors, the president will discontinue his strict isolation measures,” the doctor wrote.
By all accounts, Biden had a mild bout with the virus. O’Connor consistently wrote in his updates that Biden’s vital signs remained strong, and his temperature only became briefly elevated. He suffered from a runny nose, cough, sore throat and some body aches.
However, the infection was disruptive. Biden canceled a trip to Pennsylvania, where he was going to detail his crime prevention plans and speak at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, and skipped a long weekend at his family home in Delaware.
First lady Jill Biden went without him, and Biden was isolated in the White House residence. With voters already concerned about Biden’s age — he turns 80 in November — his aides emphasized that he was working despite his illness.
They released photos of him talking on the phone, and Biden participated in virtual meetings with advisers. His voice was hoarse and he coughed through a conversation on Friday, but he had significantly improved after the weekend.
“I’m not keeping the same hours, but I’m meeting all my requirements that have come before me,” Biden said Monday.
Although presidents benefit from household attendants, Biden’s infection brought a few unglamorous glimpses of life with COVID-19.
Shortly before 7 a.m. on Monday, he said, he felt “the nuzzle of my dog’s nose against my chest.”
“My wife’s not here, she usually takes him out,” he said.
Then, during another meeting on Tuesday, the dog interrupted the conversation by barking in the background.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.