President Nancy Pelosi of California has tested positive for the coronavirus, her office said Thursday, the latest senior official to do so as the virus spreads in Washington.
Drew Hammill, spokesperson for Ms Pelosi, said she was asymptomatic and had already been vaccinated and backed up. He added that Ms Pelosi, 82, had tested negative earlier this week.
Lawmakers and their staff on Capitol Hill were told March 30 that they were now cleared for a second booster dose, after federal health officials cleared them for many people the day before. Ms Pelosi received her second booster last month, according to her office, and it takes about a week for the immune system to build up. It is difficult to know exactly how a person was exposed and infected with the virus.
“The speaker is fully vaccinated and strengthened, and is grateful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided,” Hammill said, adding that she would self-isolate in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The speaker “encourages everyone to get vaccinated, boosted and tested regularly,” he said.
Ms Pelosi, who is second in line for the presidency after Vice President Kamala Harris, was among lawmakers who appeared without a mask with President Biden during a bill signing ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the White House said Mr. Biden had tested negative on Wednesday evening, and despite interactions in recent days and Ms. Pelosi’s presence at White House events, she was not considered a close contact for the president. , defined by the CDC as someone within six feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. Mr. Biden would continue to be tested regularly, the White House said.
Ms Pelosi’s positive test came just before her weekly press conference, which was later cancelled. Mr Hammill noted that a planned Congressional delegation to Asia, which Ms. Pelosi was to lead, would be postponed.
A string of positive coronavirus tests in Washington has been reported among senior officials who attended the Gridiron Club dinner, an annual black-tie roast between journalists and presidential administrations held over the weekend. Two Biden administration officials, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, said Wednesday they had tested positive for the virus.
But Ms Pelosi did not attend the dinner, her office said on Thursday. Mr Biden also did not attend the Gridiron, but he appeared, without a mask, at several events this week.
This week, Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas and Adam B. Schiff of California, both Democrats, said they tested positive after attending the Gridiron. Other Democrats who did not attend the dinner announced positive tests, including Rep. Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts, Deputy House Speaker and Rep. Scott Peters of California.
Reporters and administration officials who have attended other recent parties and events have also reported that they have contracted the virus.
On Wednesday, an average of 144 new virus cases per day were reported in Washington, DC, an increase of 135% over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database.
Katie Rogers contributed report.