House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, has tested positive for COVID-19, her spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted Thursday.
A day earlier, Pelosi appeared at an unmasked, indoor gathering with President Joe Biden, 79, as he signed the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act.
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“The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided,” Hammill said. Pelosi, he said, will “quarantine consistent with CDC guidance, and encourages everyone to get vaccinated, boosted and test regularly.”
Pelosi is asymptomatic and had tested negative earlier in the week, Hammill added.
The White House said Biden and Pelosi had only “brief interactions over the course of the last two days” and that the president was not considered a close contact of the speaker by CDC guidance — sustained unmasked contact within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period.
“Last night as a part of his regular testing cadence, the President tested negative,” the White House said in a statement. “He will continue to be tested regularly. The President wishes Speaker Pelosi a speedy recovery.”
Take a look at their gathering —
This afternoon, I signed the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 into law. The bill recognizes that the Postal Service is a vital public service — one that we are ensuring can continue to serve all Americans for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/Jg4aaNwGuN
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 7, 2022
The speaker’s announcement came ahead of her weekly press appearance on Capitol Hill, which was abruptly called off.
“Everyone left the room like they were shot out of a cannon,” Fox News correspondent Chad Pergam reportedly said of the announcement.
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Washington has experienced a rush of new COVID-19 cases as restrictions have lifted and more events and gatherings are happening across Washington, D.C.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced positive tests. The officials were among more than a dozen attendees of the Saturday night Gridiron Club dinner to test positive for the virus. Pelosi did not attend the dinner, her spokesman said.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced Thursday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and would “work at home while following isolation protocols.”
Several lawmakers have announced positive test results and are isolating. For example, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., announced a positive test on Tuesday via Twitter. So did Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.
The CDC says people vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 are much less likely to suffer adverse outcomes, including serious illness and death, from the virus compared to those who are unvaccinated.
Unfortunately, after avoiding COVID-19 for two years, I’ve come down with it. I tested negative yesterday & last Thursday, but positive today.
Thankfully, I’m fully vaccinated & boosted and I'm only experiencing mild symptoms. I will quarantine consistent with CDC guidelines.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) April 5, 2022
🚨Pelosi tests positive for COVID. @ChadPergram says Word of this came as reporters were all sitting in the studio, waiting for her press conference – "Everyone left the room like they were shot out of a cannon."
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) April 7, 2022
After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic. The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided. (1/2)
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) April 7, 2022
All these lawmakers have tested positive at a time of anxiety about a new variant: BA.2, a descendant of omicron.
With coronavirus cases rising in parts of Europe and Asia, scientists worry that an extra-contagious version of the omicron variant may soon push cases up in the United States too.
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The U.S. will likely see an uptick in cases caused by the omicron descendant BA.2 starting in the next few weeks, according to Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute.
“It’s inevitable we will see a BA.2 wave here,” he said.
And the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the share caused by BA.2 is up significantly. The CDC reported Tuesday that the variant accounted for about 35% of new infections last week. In the Northeast, it was about half.
One reason the variant has gained ground, scientists say, is that it’s about 30% more contagious than the original omicron. In rare cases, research shows it can sicken people even if they’ve already had an omicron infection — although it doesn’t seem to cause more severe disease.
Vaccines appear just as effective against both types of omicron, but breakthrough infections are possible.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend that he also thinks the U.S. will likely face an “uptick” similar to what’s happening in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, where BA.2 is the dominant strain.
He said he doesn’t think it will be a “surge.”
The Horn News and the Associated Press contributed to this article.