House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Thursday joined a long list of high-profile figures in Washington, D.C., who have contracted Covid-19 in the past few days.
“After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, wrote on Twitter. “The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided.”
Collins’ office announced later on Thursday that she, too, had tested positive. The announcement came soon after Collins voted to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking government official to test positive since former President Trump did so in October 2020, and Collins is the first senator to test positive
The positive tests come during a stretch in which several Democratic lawmakers and prominent officials have contracted the disease. It’s looking like Saturday night’s swanky Gridiron Club dinner could have been a superspreader event. Since then, eight Democratic members of Congress have tested positive, including Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.).
Schiff and Castro both attended the dinner. So did Collins. So did Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Kamala Harris Communications Director Jamal Simmons, and President Joe Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens — all of whom have all since tested positive.
The dinner featured around 630 guests in total. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walesnky, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and several senators were also in attendance, although they have not tested positive.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser did not attend the dinner, but announced on Thursday that she tested positive, as well. “Friends — Yesterday, I tested positive for COVID,” she tweeted. “After experiencing allergy symptoms this week, I took an at-home test yesterday and a PCR test confirmed the positive result.”
Congress last month excluded about $15 billion in pandemic relief from a spending plan in response to pushback from Republicans, a move that Pelosi called “heartbreaking.” Congress has yet to pass the relief through standalone legislation, as to do so would require 60 votes in the Senate, which means 10 Republicans would have to get on board. The failure to extend relief means no more vaccinations, tests, and care for the uninsured. The loss of relief comes as cities like Washington, D.C., have dropped indoor mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
Senate Republicans expressed skepticism about additional Covid relief after the Biden administration in early March asked Congress for $22.5 billion to both address Covid and help prepare for future pandemics. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) led a group of 35 GOP senators that wrote a letter to the White House asking it to account for the funds that had previously been allocated for pandemic relief. The administration responded that it already spent on the money on vaccines, treatments, tests and masks.
The funds “supported our forceful response to the surge in infections and hospitalizations caused by the Omicron variant, as well as the earlier surge resulting from the Delta variant,” wrote Shalanda Young, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a letter to congressional leaders. “But those demands have largely exhausted existing funds.”
Young said the administration’s new request would go toward “immediate needs to avoid disruption to ongoing COVID response efforts over the next few months.”
Pelosi attended a White House event with President Biden a day before testing positive on Thursday, but the White House has said Biden was not in close contact with Pelosi, that he tested negative Wednesday night, and that he will continue to take regular tests.