Former asthma sufferer Biden has cough, but not COVID, White House says

U.S. President Biden signs the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden continues to test negative for COVID-19 but is suffering its lingering effects, the White House press office said on Tuesday, after he coughed repeatedly through a speech on the South Lawn.

Biden spoke to dozens of Congress members, including Republicans, as well as business executives and members of his Cabinet, in sweltering midday heat before signing the a $53 billion bill aimed at boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry.

His persistent congestion forced him to stop the speech at several points to turn aside and cough into his hand or sip water, drawing the attention of supporters and detractors alike on social media. The 79-year-old president recently suffered his second bout of COVID-19, and was isolated for over two weeks in the White House until Sunday.

"The President tested negative for COVID yesterday and this morning," the press office told the White House pool, soon after the speech ended.

Biden used to have asthma, Ashish Jha, the COVID-19 coordinator, told reporters in July, and has "reactive airway disease," which means he is prone to getting "a little bit of bronchospasm," or cough. He relied on an albuterol inhaler to alleviate his cough during his illness, and has previously used an inhaler while he had a cold, he said.

“What he’s experiencing right now is the lingering effects of getting COVID,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters later on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Heather Timmons in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)