America turned into concerned self-appointed physicians with diagnoses for President-elect Joe Biden after he cleared his throat and coughed during his Monday night speech. “Thank you, I have a little bit of a cold,” Biden said afterward on a live stream.
Biden was addressing his victory in the Electoral College, which delivered 306 votes to certify him as the next U.S. president by meeting the 270-vote threshold.
“In America,” he said, “politicians don’t take power—the people grant power to them. The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.” The substance of his speech was lost on many, as viewers focused on how he stopped to cough or clear his throat.
“To the main theme of the Twitterverse right now: Biden regularly clears his throat and coughs in speeches—especially at the beginning of remarks,” NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow wrote. “That’s the most sustained coughing I’ve heard though.”
The possibility of COVID-19 was raised and even joked about on social media. White House pool reports show Biden testing negative as recently as Friday. “Drink some water, Joe. You’re scaring us,” one Twitter user wrote.
Dr. Melody McCloud replied to Karine Jean-Pierre, who will be Biden’s principal deputy press secretary, with a plea for Biden to set a hygiene example. “Please advise President-elect Biden to cough into the bed bend of his arm, not into his hand,” McCloud wrote about the technique to reduce spreading germs. “As a physician, I cringe every time I see that. Please.”
Biden delivered the speech from Wilmington, Del. He will take office on Jan. 20, when he will become the oldest U.S. president at 78. Ronald Reagan left office at 77.
Just like the senior citizens in your life, people are going to worry about any persistent cough … especially at this time.