Washington elite faced with a growing resurgence of COVID-19 infections

House Speaker Pelosi became the latest Washington dignitary to test positive.

April 7, 2022, 10:57 PM

With masks no longer required and mitigation measures seen by some as a thing of the past, a coronavirus resurgence is spreading among the tight circles of the Washington 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 thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided,” the spokesperson said Thursday. She said Pelosi received her second booster shot last month.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference at the Capitol, March 31, 2022.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Pelosi’s positive test comes amid a flurry of other positive cases among individuals who attended the elite Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington on Saturday.

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

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

Late Thursday, first lady Jill Biden's press secretary, Michael LaRosa, another attendee at the dinner, told ABC News he'd 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 of the first lady or president.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden signs H.R. 3076, the "Postal Service Reform Act of 2022," during a ceremony at the White House, April 5, 2022.
President Joe Biden signs H.R. 3076, the "Postal Service Reform Act of 2022," during a ceremony at the White House, April 5, 2022. From left: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Rob Portman, Senator Thom Tillis and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of two Republican lawmakers to attend the dinner, also announced late Thursday she tested positive.

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

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

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

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

Asked about Biden's contact with Pelosi, White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday said Biden tested negative on Wednesday night and insisted Biden wasn't a CDC "close contact" because they weren't within 6 feet for 15 minutes.

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

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

It was unclear whether Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., both of whom announced Thursday night they had also tested positive, were at the dinner.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces enforcement actions against Russia, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., April 6, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

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

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

When asked by ABC News whether the White House plans to test the president daily in the coming weeks, given the uptick in COVID-19 cases seen across Washington, Psaki said that such measures have "not deemed to be necessary at this point."

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 individuals 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. As no quarantine is needed, she will continue with her public schedule.

Separately, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser joined the growing list of those infected with COVID-19, tweeting on Thursday morning that she 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 U.S. Capitol quickly followed suit to make face coverings optional.

The district is currently at a “low” community level for COVID-19, per CDC standards.

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

Related Topics