• Fri. Mar 24th, 2023


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Secretary Blinken Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has tested positive for the coronavirus, the State Department announced on Wednesday, nearly a week before he was scheduled to travel to diplomatic meetings in Europe and Morocco.

A spokesman, Ned Price, said Mr. Blinken, 60, had mild symptoms, and had not seen President Biden in several days.

Mr. Blinken, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, will work at home and “looks forward to returning to the department and resuming his full duties and travels as soon as possible,” Mr. Price said in the statement.

Mr. Blinken joins a handful of other prominent figures who have tested positive after attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30. Among them are Steve Herman of Voice of America and, according to a person familiar with the matter, Jonathan Karl of ABC News.

Many people wondered whether it was advisable to gather a crowd of 2,600 into the packed hotel ballroom of the Washington Hilton hotel. Proof of vaccination and a same-day negative test were required; boosters were strongly encouraged; and masks were optional.

A spokesperson for the union representing Washington Hilton workers, Unite Here Local 25, said members were not subject to the dinner’s vaccination or testing requirements but wore masks and were allowed to choose whether they wanted to work the event.

The union was so far unaware of any members testing positive after working the dinner, the spokesperson, Benjy Cannon, said on Wednesday.

President Biden also attended the dinner. At a White House news conference, the press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Mr. Biden had most recently tested negative for the virus on Tuesday.

Mr. Blinken was expected to travel to Marrakesh, Morocco, for a meeting on May 11 of the international campaign against the Islamic State. That was to be followed by a meeting of the Group of 7, the world’s wealthiest democracies, in Germany. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether Mr. Blinken would be able to travel to either event.

He was also notifying officials with whom he came into close contact over the last several days, Mr. Price said. Mr. Blinken met with Foreign Ministers Ann Linde of Sweden on Wednesday and Marcelo Ebrard of Mexico on Tuesday, for example.

Mr. Blinken tested positive on a P.C.R. test after feeling symptomatic on Wednesday afternoon even though he had a negative result on an antigen test just hours earlier, Mr. Price said.

“He has young kids in the house. As you know, he was around a number of people this weekend,” Mr. Price told reporters at the State Department. “So a matter of precaution, he does regularly test.”

The State Department confirmed Mr. Blinken has received a second booster shot.

Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for the virus, but returned to work on Tuesday after testing negative on Monday and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on isolating. She attended a gala on Tuesday night for Emily’s List, the fund-raising powerhouse that has helped elect hundreds of women who support abortion rights.

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