Washington’s elite face a growing resurgence of COVID-19 infections

With masks no longer required and mitigation measures seen by some as a thing of the past, the resurgence of the coronavirus is spreading among the narrow circles of Washington’s elite.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the latest high-profile Washington dignitary to test positive for COVID-19.

Pelosi, 82, is currently asymptomatic, according to a spokesperson for her office.

“The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is grateful for the strong protection the vaccine has provided,” the spokesperson said Thursday. He said Pelosi received her second booster shot last month.

Pelosi’s positive test comes amid a spate of other positive cases among people who attended the elite Gridiron Club dinner in Washington on Saturday.

As of noon Thursday, at least 32 guests at Saturday’s dinner have tested positive for COVID-19, Tom DeFrank, president of the Gridiron Club, told ABC News.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Representatives Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Jamal Simmons, communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris, were among those invited to the dinner. they announced this week that they have tested positive.

On Thursday night, first lady Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa, another dinner attendee, told ABC News that she had tested positive. He said he has mild symptoms and is isolating at home. He tested negative earlier this week.

LaRosa said he was out earlier this week and is not determined to be a close contact with the first lady or the president.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of two GOP lawmakers who attended the dinner, also announced Thursday night that she has tested positive.

“Senator Collins has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently experiencing mild symptoms. The senator will self-isolate and work remotely in accordance with CDC guidelines,” a statement from his office said.

Although some attendees wore face coverings, most guests were not wearing masks, DeFrank said.

In recent weeks, a growing number of positive COVID-19 infections has also affected members of President Joe Biden’s inner circle, with the White House acknowledging many close calls after meetings or events with people who subsequently tested positive.

Pelosi attended a White House event Tuesday where she interacted with former President Barack Obama, who tested positive last month, as well as Biden. He also attended a White House event on Wednesday where he again interacted with Biden. She was maskless at both events, as were other attendees.

When asked about Biden’s contact with Pelosi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that Biden tested negative Wednesday night and insisted that Biden was not a “close contact” of the CDC because they were not within 6 feet for 15 minutes.

Among those close to Biden who have tested positive is his sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who also attended Saturday’s dinner. She is experiencing mild symptoms, her publisher said in a statement Thursday.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., who attended Tuesday’s event with Biden and Harris, announced that she tested positive Thursday and was experiencing mild symptoms.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., also announced that he had tested positive Thursday night.

Psaki, who recently tested positive for the second time, told reporters Wednesday that the White House continues to take “strict” and “strict” protocols to protect the president from possible infection.

“We are taking additional steps that go beyond CDC protocols and requirements to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep the principals, president, vice president and others in the building safe,” Psaki said.

Asked by ABC News if the White House plans to test the president daily in the coming weeks, given the surge in COVID-19 cases seen across Washington, Psaki said such measures “have not been deemed necessary at this time.”

The vice president also had brushes with the virus in recent weeks. In addition to Simmons testing positive this week, her husband Doug Emhoff contracted the virus in mid-March.

Harris will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that people who are up-to-date on their vaccinations get tested at least five days after interacting with someone with COVID-19, according to her office. Since quarantine is not necessary, he will continue with his public schedule.

Separately, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser joined the growing list of those infected with COVID-19, tweeting Thursday morning who had tested positive for the virus.

The mayor said she is experiencing “allergy-like symptoms.”

The District of Columbia in February officially ended its district-wide mask mandate. The White House and the US Capitol quickly followed suit to make face coverings optional.

The district is currently in a “low” community level for COVID-19, based on CDC standards.

Molly Nagle, Justin Gomez and Mariam Khan of ABC News contributed to this report.


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