A new wave of COVID-19 surged through the capital last week, affecting officials at the highest level of government and stopping business. It was the same time when President Biden and other leaders urged the nation to return to normalcy. Masks were taken off, and gatherings were in full swing; thus the, COVID-19 happened to so many officials.

People Infected at the Event

Amid mild symptoms, Rep. Elaine Luria, 46, fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus, decided to continue following CDC guidelines and quarantine.

Due to the pandemic, it had not been possible for Rep. Luria to attend the annual event in Washington, DC, since 2019. The COVID-19 tests were not mandatory, even though all guests had to show proof of vaccination.

Some eight days after the dinner, the connection between the new positive test and dinner is arguable, especially for the public officials.

The Agriculture Secretary named Tom Vilsack has been fully vaccinated for the virus and had received a booster dose, too; he came out positive on Friday and is having mild symptoms, his office has reported in a statement made on Saturday, adding to a new surge of cases that are affecting the nation’s capital.

The latest number means more than 13 percent of guests attending have gotten positive after the event. Most of the employees that have worked the dinner wore masks, but most of the people who attended did not.

Increment in the Number of Positive People

The total number of guests who came out to be positive for COVID after the dinner party has increased to 80 of 630, as reported by the organizers.

The 80 cases include one person who tested positive on Monday nine days after the dinner and seven of the cases that tested positive priorly but had not reported results.

List of Other Positive Persons

Other people present at the white-tie event were also positive, including D-Texas, and Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Calif, the House of Intelligence Committee; Jamal Simmons, an aide to Vice President Kamala Harris; and Valerie Biden Owens, the president’s sister.

Reason Behind So Many COVID Positives

The surge of high-profile cases results from the fact that masks came off in the Capitol complex and around the state of Washington, and large, crowded indoor parties like the Gridiron dinner and other Washington traditional ceremonies have returned after nearly a two-year absence. The great White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which comedian Trevor Noah will do, is scheduled for April 30. Such events can cause havoc if many people get affected. It will be interesting to see if they make COVID-19 tests mandatory for that event.

There were a slew of positive test results in Washington following a Gridiron Club dinner on Saturday night. Members of Congress and journalists were among the guests.

As part of the swanky black-tie event, AG Merrick Garland, Raimondo, Castro, Schiff, and Simmons were required to show proof of vaccination but not COVID-19 testing, and many of the guests were unmasked. Her staffer, Hammill, attended instead of Pelosi.

Highly Contagious BA2 Variant

The recent increase in cases is also because more and more people are catching the BA2 Sub-variant, which is now the highly spreading  strain in at least 68 countries. It has caused more than 70% of the new infections in the US.

Closing Thoughts

In addition to Attorney General Merrick Garland, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and President Obama’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director Jamal Simmons, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) attended the prestigious banquet. These are among the recently tested positive persons: Garland, Simmons, and Collins.

Pelosi did not list Biden as one of her close contacts, even though he stood close to her at two events on Tuesday and Wednesday, even kissing her on the cheek at one of them. 

CDC requires that you spend 15 minutes within six feet of a person with COVID-19 over 24 hours to be considered close to that person.

This dinner has proved that there is a need to bring back masks and other safety protocols, and these parties are no longer safe as the people who have been affected are the ones who even received a booster dose of the vaccine. So if they aren’t safe, the only precaution is to bring back the masks and other proven protocols by scientists that have worked thus far. A lot of testing still needs to be done to help the positive cases isolated timely and thus can halt the spread of the COVID virus.

It is still quite surprising the administration did not make COVID-19 testing compulsory for the event.

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