New wave of Covid cases hits U.S. officials, rattles Washington

WASHINGTON — A recent wave of Covid-19 cases swept via the nation’s capital this week, putting officers on the highest ranges of authorities and disrupting enterprise simply as President Joe Biden and different political leaders are urging a return to normalcy.

“Well, I think the tendency is that Covid-19 is totally behind us, but it isn’t,” mentioned a maskless Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who represents the San Francisco Bay Space with Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who examined optimistic Thursday.

“And we still have to have a high level of awareness, be vaccinated, be boosted, so that if, in fact, the infection hits us, that it would be a very mild case. And thank God that’s what it is” for the speaker, mentioned Eshoo, who’s one of Pelosi’s closest associates in Congress.

Two prime Biden Cupboard members — Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — examined optimistic for Covid after attending the Gridiron Membership Dinner over the weekend.

Different attendees of the unique, white-tie occasion additionally examined optimistic, together with Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the Home Intelligence Committee; Jamal Simmons, a prime aide to Vice President Kamala Harris; and Valerie Biden Owens, the president’s sister.

On Thursday night, simply hours after voting to substantiate Decide Ketanji Brown Jackson to grow to be the primary Black girl on the Supreme Court docket, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced she had examined optimistic and was experiencing “mild symptoms.” Collins additionally had attended the Gridiron dinner.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., additionally examined optimistic for Covid Thursday.

First girl Jill Biden’s press Secretary, Michael LaRosa, advised NBC News Thursday night time that he additionally has examined optimistic, whereas including that the primary girl isn’t thought of a detailed contact.

Fox News first reported LaRosa’s optimistic check.

Earlier within the day, Pelosi, second in line to the presidency after Harris, turned the highest-ranking present authorities official to check optimistic for Covid. It got here in the future after she attended an unmasked bill-signing occasion on the White Home alongside Biden; Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and different congressional leaders. The White Home later mentioned Biden was not a detailed contact of Pelosi.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill mentioned the 82-year-old speaker, who’s totally vaccinated and boosted, is asymptomatic however will quarantine. She didn’t attend the Gridiron dinner.

Her workplace made the announcement moments earlier than Pelosi was set to fulfill with reporters for her weekly information convention, which was rapidly scrapped. She additionally had been scheduled to steer a delegation of lawmakers on a intently watched journey to Taiwan and Japan subsequent week; the journey had induced a global row, with Beijing saying it could take “strong measures” in opposition to the U.S. if Pelosi set foot in Taiwan.

However the journey was instantly postponed.

The spate of high-profile cases comes as masks have come off within the Capitol complicated and round Washington and large, crowded indoor occasions just like the Gridiron dinner and different Washington traditions have returned after a two-year absence. The large White Home Correspondents’ Affiliation dinner, which will likely be hosted by comic Trevor Noah, is about for April 30.

Eshoo mentioned she was with Pelosi on Wednesday at a packed, indoor ceremony to unveil the portrait of former Power and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore. The night time earlier than, Eshoo hosted a dinner for Pelosi. 

Would she rethink her choice to not put on a masks within the Capitol? “It gives me pause,” Eshoo replied.

Did she plan to get examined Thursday, given her proximity to Pelosi? “If I can, before I leave,” Eshoo mentioned because the Home was wrapping up votes for the week.

The most recent spherical of Covid cases set members of the U.S. Senate on excessive alert as they labored this week to substantiate Jackson to the Supreme Court docket. Given Democrats’ razor-thin margin, a serious outbreak within the higher chamber might have sidelined a quantity of lawmakers and delayed Jackson’s affirmation, which befell Thursday in a historic 53-47 vote.

The White Home is planning to host an occasion Friday afternoon on the South Garden, the place Jackson will ship remarks on her affirmation. Biden and Harris are additionally scheduled to talk.

All week, Schumer was warning his members to “Stay healthy!” in line with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a member of the Democratic management group.

“Obviously, if we had had a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus this week [test positive], it would have been a major disruption,” Stabenow mentioned. “There are times when, for us, if there’s a close vote, it becomes a disruption.”

A number of Capitol Hill reporters and different members of Congress additionally examined optimistic this week, together with one of Pelosi’s deputies, Assistant Home Speaker Katherine Clark, D-Mass., in addition to Reps. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.

When the Home is in session, Kilmer shares a rental in Washington together with his good friend Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich. When Kilmer examined optimistic, Kildee did not return to the rental.

“I wasn’t there last night, because I stayed in a hotel last night,” Kildee mentioned.

“This has been an fascinating week. … The fox bites Ami Bera. Fred Upton quits,” Kildee defined. “There are ‘Veep’ days, there’s ‘House of Cards’ days, and there are ‘West Wing’ days.”

“And what was this week?” a reporter requested.

“This was a ‘Veep’ week, for sure,” Kildee replied.

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