Garland, Raimondo test positive for COVID-19 | Health & Fitness

By MICHAEL BALSAMO Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland has tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine at home for five days, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Garland is the second cabinet official to announce a positive test result on Wednesday. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has also tested positive for the virus using an at-home antigen test.

The two officials are among more than a dozen Gridiron Club dinner attendees who have tested positive for the virus in recent days. Saturday night’s black tie event was attended by some of the country’s most prominent political leaders, journalists and media executives. Guests were asked to show proof of vaccination but were asked to be tested for the virus and many mingled without masks during the event.

Tom DeFrank, president of the Gridiron Club, said the group knew of 14 guests who attended and later tested positive. Many of the cases involve guests who were seated at three tables, he said.

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“There’s no way to be sure when they first got COVID,” DeFrank said. “But they did interact with other guests overnight, and we have to be realistic and expect a few more cases.”

The Justice Department’s announcement comes hours after Garland held a news conference in Washington, alongside the deputy attorney general, the FBI director and other Justice Department officials.

The Justice Department says Garland asked to be tested “after learning he may have been exposed to the virus.” Authorities say he has no symptoms, he is fully vaccinated and received a booster.

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The Justice Department said Garland would self-isolate at home for at least five days and work remotely. The department said she would also conduct contact tracing in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Raimondo’s office said he was experiencing “mild symptoms” and was sharing the news “out of great transparency.”

The nation’s capital appears to be experiencing an outbreak, affecting not only cabinet officials but also members of Congress, White House staff and members of the media.

Representatives Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Joaquin Castro, D-Tex., also announced they have tested positive for the virus. They had both attended the Gridiron dinner.

Other members of Congress, including Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Scott Peters of California, both Democrats, also said they have tested positive.

The White House also said Wednesday that Jamal Simmons, the communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris, had also tested positive and that Simmons was in close contact with Harris. Harris’ office said she would follow CDC guidelines and see her doctor, but planned to continue her schedule.

The CDC says that people who are vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 are much less likely to suffer adverse outcomes, including serious illness and death, from the virus compared to people who are not vaccinated.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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