Several Washington political elite contract Covid-19

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and others announce infections

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the White House on Tuesday. Reuters

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, joining a list of other political leaders and staffers infected with the virus in Washington DC this week.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced they had also received positive test results on Wednesday.

Many have gathered in Washington for major events over the last week — free of many Covid-19 prevention measures — and some attendees have now shared positive test results.

Indoor and maskless events include a White House gathering on Tuesday to celebrate the American Care Act with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama as attendees. Mr Obama had Covid-19 in mid-March.

US President Joe Biden bumps fists with former president Barack Obama in the White House on April 5, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and US representatives. AFP

Ms Harris's communications director Jamal Simmons tested positive after the event, and her team said she will follow CDC guidance for having a close contact. She is not unfamiliar with the experience as her husband Doug Elmhoff has had Covid-19.

The White House said on Wednesday that Mr Biden's last Covid-19 test was on Wednesday evening, and it was negative.

“The president wishes Speaker Pelosi a speedy recovery,” a White House statement said.

Ms Pelosi is the first among congressional leadership to test positive for coronavirus in the pandemic, the Washington Post reports, and she attended Tuesday's White House event.

“After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for Covid-19 and is currently asymptomatic,” Ms Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted.

Another major event was the Gridiron Club Dinner, a Saturday night gathering on its first return since the Covid lockdown. Politicians and press members get together for laughs and mingling at the once males-only club.

Ms Raimondo was a speaker at the event, and Mr Garland attended, prior to receiving positive test results. Politico reported that Covid-19 vaccination proof was a requirement for attending.

Multiple US House representatives have announced testing positive as well as several other Capitol Hill staffers and news media – some of whom were at the Gridiron function.

CNN and USA Today reported that Mr Biden's sister Valerie Biden Owens also tested positive this week after experiencing some symptoms.

Many elected leaders, politicians and members in the Washington elite are fully vaccinated and boosted. They also have access to more robust coronavirus testing.

The New York Times coronavirus database reports a 135 per cent uptick in coronavirus cases over the last 14 days in Washington DC as the US contends with the more transmissible Omicron sub-variant, BA. 2, which recently became the dominant variant in the country.

Washington's Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced a positive test.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 1:41 PM
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