WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and President Joe Biden’s sister became the latest Washington figures to test positive for COVID-19, announcements that came Thursday after two cabinet officials and others tested positive the day before.
Pelosi, who is asymptomatic, tested positive on Thursday. She will quarantine, her spokesman announced.
“The speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided,” said spokesman Drew Hammill.
Pelosi attended crowded events at the White House Tuesday and Wednesday at which Biden spoke.
The White House said Biden’s interactions with Pelosi do not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of being in close contact.
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Collins tests positive after Supreme Court vote
Collins, one of three Republicans who broke from her party to vote to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, tested positive late Thursday afternoon.
Her office said the senator is experiencing mild symptoms and will isolate and work remotely following the diagnosis.
Collins’ positive test came just hours after she voted for Jackson’s historic nomination. Last week, Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., warned reporters that the confirmation wasn’t a done deal until after the vote, because something like a senator testing positive for COVID and being unable to vote could disrupt the process.
The senator attended the annual Gridiron Dinner on Saturday, as did two cabinet members who have since tested positive.
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Biden tests negative
Biden was last tested Wednesday, as part of his regular testing regime of a couple times a week, and tested negative, according to the White House.
His doctor does not believe it’s necessary for Biden to test daily, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
“COVID will continue to be with us,” she said. “We will see cases rise and fall.”
Pelosi is the eighth member of Congress to test positive this week. All of the members were fully vaccinated and boosted.
Following Pelosi’s diagnosis, a planned trip by lawmakers to Asia that the speaker was to lead has been postponed.
Biden’s sister also tests COVID positive
Valerie Biden Owens tested positive on Wednesday after experiencing mild symptoms, her publisher said in a statement.
Owens had not been in close contact with the president or first lady, the publisher said.
Owens’ memoir, “Growing up Biden,” comes out Tuesday.
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On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said they had tested positive, as did Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director Jamal Simmons.
All three had attended the annual Gridiron Dinner Saturday night, which attracts a wide swath of government officials and journalists. Some lawmakers and reporters who were at the dinner have also tested positive.
Pelosi was not at the dinner but her spokesman, Hammill, was.
Biden did not attend the dinner but spoke Wednesday at an event in a hotel ballroom packed with more than 2,000 union leaders and members, most of whom were not wearing masks.
He also held a crowded health care event at the White House on Tuesday and hosted lawmakers and others for a bill signing Wednesday.
Biden, 79, has been vaccinated, and he received his first booster shot in September and a second at the end of March.
In addition, the White House had gone beyond CDC’s recommended protocols to protect Biden from the virus. Anyone who meets with the president or is traveling with him is tested first. When possible, Biden is also kept socially distanced from others, according to Psaki.
“We are living with COVID-19,” Psaki said Wednesday. “We are continuing to fight it.”