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Covid-19 Spreads among Biden, Psaki, Garland and Pelosi

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The attorney general, Merrick Garland, is among the prominent figures in Washington who has tested positive for Covid. Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

The number of prominent members of Congress and senior staffers in Washington DC contracting Covid-19 is increasing, posing a risk to Joe Biden at a time when unmasked events are becoming more common at the White House.

Jen Psaki, who missed the US president‘s trip to Europe last month after testing positive for Coronavirus, attended the Senate confirmation celebration of Ketanji Brown Jackson for the supreme court on Friday at the White House.

Raphael Warnock, the Georgia Democratic senator who voted to confirm Jackson, tested positive for drug use on Thursday.

Vice-President Kamala Harris, in her double role as president of the Senate and vice-president of the United States, announced Jackson’s confirmation vote on Thursday afternoon, sitting mask-free on the dais as she beams as she marks the historic moment, and attended Jackson’s celebration at the White House on Friday, even though her spokesman has been infected.

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Pelosi, who appeared unmasked at crowded indoor events with Biden on Tuesday and Wednesday, also tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

Having contracted Coronavirus-19 in October 2020, Pelosi is now the highest-ranking politician to be infected with the virus.

In spite of the fact that Biden tested negative after his interactions with Pelosi, the White House acknowledges that he might test positive in the days to come.

Kate Bedingfield, director of White House communications, said on CNN that it is possible the president will test positive for Covid at some point, observing that antiviral treatments and vaccines allow people to stay healthy and actively live their lives.

At least eight House members, including the Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, have also tested positive for Covid-19, along with Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine.

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There have been several government diagnoses since several officials attended a dinner hosted by Washington’s Gridiron Club and Foundation on Saturday, which has been dubbed a “super-spreader” event.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, tested positive on Wednesday. Raimondo, Harris’s communication director Jamal Simmons, and others have testified that they were present at the gala. Pelosi did not attend the dinner on Saturday.

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s Gridiron dinner, Harris was in touch with Simmons, who tested positive, said Kirsten Allen, Harris’s press secretary.

After Saturday’s event, Simons attended two more events with Biden, and he and former president Barack Obama attended an celebration of the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday.

According to a letter sent by the Gridiron Club to its members, at least 37 Positive Covid-19 Cases have resulted from Saturday’s event.

Tom DeFrank, president of Gridiron Club, stated on Wednesday that he cannot be sure of the exact date when Covid was first contracted.

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Nevertheless, they interacted with other guests during the night, so we have to be realistic and expect more cases, DeFrank said. “With the exception of public officials who have voluntarily disclosed their status, we will protect the privacy of guests who test positive.”

In addition to proof of vaccination, guests at Saturday’s dinner were not mandated to take a Covid test before the event.

A surge of Covid-19 cases in Washington DC and among politicians led lawmakers to omit $15bn in pandemic aid from the spending bill, cutting off access to vaccinations, Covid-19 tests and care for the uninsured.

The District of Columbia has also eliminated its indoor mask and vaccination mandates.

According to Dr Anthony Fauci, the US will also probably see a surge in cases in the coming weeks.

It was Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation celebration at the White House that was the last time there was a celebration for a Supreme Court confirmation at the White House. Covid was not yet vaccinated, so the main event was held outdoors, but there was a large reception inside shortly before the November 2020 presidential election.

 

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