Live Covid-19 updates: news on recalls, vaccines and tests

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Wednesday they had tested positive for the coronavirus, the latest in a string of prominent Democrats, lawmakers and Biden administration officials to say that they had been infected.

Also on Wednesday, Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the Deputy Speaker of the House, and Representative Scott Peters of California announced their own positive tests.

The Department of Justice said in a statement that Mr Garland, 69, asked to be tested after learning he may have been exposed. Mr. Garland, who is vaccinated and boosted, had no symptoms and planned to work from home for at least five days, the department said. He will not return to the office until he tests negative at the end of this period.

The announcement about Mr. Garland came just hours after he gave a press conference at the Justice Department at 10 a.m., where he stood unmasked alongside several other officials, including Christopher A. Wray , the director of the FBI. The Justice Department statement announcing the test result followed several hours later.

Mr Garland spoke to reporters for more than half an hour, often swapping places with others on the briefing room podium.

A White House official said President Biden, who did not test positive for the coronavirus, was not considered a close contact. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

During a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that although cases are increasing in Congress, the press and the White House, the administration does not plan to toughen protocols and plans to continue with its return-to-work plan. .

But Ms Psaki, who recently tested positive for the second time, added that the president has remained protected from the virus by taking “steps that go beyond what the CDC protocols are,” such as making sure that everyone who sees Mr. Biden is tested in advance and social distancing in meetings with the president, including in the Oval Office.

The president was last tested on Monday and received a negative result, according to the White House.

Ms. Raimondo, 50, tested positive after taking an at-home antigen test, the Commerce Department said in a statement Wednesday. The secretary, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, had mild symptoms and would self-isolate and work from home for five days before taking another test, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the department said.

Her office said it was carrying out contact tracing and was in the process of notifying people she may have been in close contact with.

Mrs. Clark, 58, said on Twitter Wednesday morning that she had tested positive for the virus and was showing mild symptoms. She said she had been vaccinated and vaccinated.

“I am grateful to our healthcare professionals and researchers who have given us the tools to manage this deadly virus,” she said.

Mr Peters tweeted that he is “feeling well – thanks to vaccination and stimulation” and that he will isolate himself at home while his office remains fully operational.

Jamal Simmons, the vice president’s communications director, also tested positive for the virus on Wednesday, according to a White House statement. He will self-isolate and work from home, but Mr Simmons was in close contact with Vice President Kamala Harris. She will then see her doctor and plans to continue her public schedule.

Officials who announced their test results on Wednesday came the day after three other House Democrats — Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas, Adam Schiff of California and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida — said they had been tested positive.

The positive tests are a reminder that even as senior officials seek to step away from tough restrictions and encourage Americans to learn to live with the coronavirus, the pandemic continues, driven by the emergence of a new highly contagious whose spread worries experts. .

In March, at least nine House Democrats announced positive tests in the space of five days, with more than half of those cases emerging after lawmakers attended a party retreat in Philadelphia. Two other lawmakers who did not attend the retreat also tested positive at the same time.

Hillary Clinton and Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, also tested positive for the virus in March, as did Ms Psaki, who tested positive for the second time in five months, a day before she join Mr. Biden on a diplomatic trip to Europe.

Katie Rogers contributed report.

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