Dozens of New Coronavirus Infections Reported After Gridiron Elite Dinner

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus after attending the elite Gridiron Club dinner in Washington on Friday increased to 53, confirming that the April 2 event marked a significant outbreak.

The latest figures show that at least 8 percent of the 630 journalists, politicians and VIPs who attended the annual dinner party reported positive test results.

Positive tests include Attorney General Merrick Garland; Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo; Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine); President Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens; Democrat Joaquin Castro (Texas) and Adam B. Schiff (California); and top advisers to Vice President Harris and First Lady Jill Biden.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser also reported positive test results this week, although neither attended the downtown Renaissance Washington Hotel event.

Likewise, President Biden did not report the infection.

However, Pelosi was in close contact with Biden at a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate the passage of a new law to modernize the US Post Office. She announced the next day that her test was positive.

While the number of virus cases in the city is relatively low, the epidemic sparked national news and raised concerns over a wave of coronavirus security rollbacks across the country.

White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN on Friday that it was “possible” that Biden would eventually develop Covid-19, but the White House is continuing its precautionary measures that include testing for anyone entering the site.

Jamal Simmons, the vice president’s communications director, was among those who tested positive after attending Saturday’s lunch. Simmons said he was self-isolating at home and consulted a doctor because he had been in close contact with Harris prior to testing positive.

Since the first positive tests emerged from dinner on Wednesday, the reported number has risen from 14 on Wednesday to 37 on Thursday and 53 on Friday afternoon. Tom DeFrank, the club’s president, confirmed the latest figures in an email.

He said the number of new positive cases reported appeared to be on the decline, although he said it was impossible to know how many more will appear.

“Fortunately, there are no reports of anything serious,” he said, “just a sore throat or a slight fever.” He declined to identify anyone who reports a positive test.

Guests at dinner – an annual event that has been canceled in the last two years due to the pandemic – showed proof of vaccination, but did not have to present a negative test for the coronavirus. They mingled freely without masks at a cocktail party and an hour-long dinner that featured carefree speeches and political skits by journalists, including one with performers disguised as coronavirus.

In one parody of the song, an actor who played Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s greatest infectious disease expert, sang, “Doctor, Doctor, give me some tips, we’ve got a hard case of covid blues.”

Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, were present.

A larger and more famous White House Correspondents Association dinner is scheduled for April 30. It typically spans a lot of pre- and post-dinner parties, as well as a series of crowded parties sponsored by media organizations including The Washington Post.

Neither organization has so far announced plans to cancel their events.

The president usually attends the White House correspondents dinner, but Biden has yet to announce his plans.

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