COVID Count After DC Event Reaches 67

Third Cabinet member has tested positive
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2022 2:10 PM CDT
COVID Count After DC Event Reaches 67
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes an appearance in Wheat Ridge, Colo., in January. Vilsack has tested positive for the coronavirus.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A week after 630 guests sat down for the annual Gridiron dinner in Washington, the coronavirus case count among attendees is still climbing. Organizers said Saturday night that 67 people have tested positive for the virus, the Washington Post reports. The count now includes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the third Cabinet member to test positive. Figures were not released by the Renaissance Hotel about employees who worked the dinner, most of whom wore masks; most guests did not.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo already tested positive, as did aides, journalists, and members of Congress. Tom DeFrank, the Gridiron Club's president, said he's heard of mild symptoms only among the cases so far. Although more than 10% of the guest list now has been infected, everyone had to show proof of vaccination to get in. They did not have to show a negative test result, per the New York Times. Vislack has been vaccinated and boosted, per NBC News.

When someone at the dinner reports a positive test, the club notifies people who were seating near the guest. In Garland's case, the Justice Department is conducting contact tracing; he appeared with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday just before testing positive. The dinner had been canceled the past two years because of the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers were hopeful the dinner would be safe this time. They felt good about it when the first person to accept an invitation was Dr. Anthony Fauci. "That gave us some optimism," DeFrank said. (More coronavirus stories.)

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