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67 attendees of high profile D.C. dinner test positive for Covid

Sixty-seven attendees have tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the Gridiron Dinner in Washington last weekend, including members of the Biden administration and reporters, according to Gridiron Club President Tom DeFrank.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, tested positive for the virus on Friday and is experiencing mild symptoms, his office said in a statement on Saturday, adding to a fresh wave of cases that has swept through the nation’s capital.

Two other members of Biden’s Cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, tested positive last week after attending the annual social gathering of high-profile political media and business figures. This is the first that the event has taken place since 2019, before the pandemic.

Garland attended a news conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday, before he tested positive later that day. The Justice Department said it was conducting contact tracing in accordance with protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some lawmakers also tested positive after attending the white-tie event, including Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

So did Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., who announced her positive test on Thursday after voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director Jamal Simmons, first lady Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa and Valerie Biden Owens, President Joe Biden’s sister were also among guests who later tested positive following the event.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who did not attend the dinner, also tested positive last week after spending time with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Both the president and vice president tested negative last week.

According to the CDC, subvariant BA.2 of the omicron variant of Covid now accounts for most cases in the U.S.

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