Interior Secretary Tests Positive For COVID-19

David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump's nominee to be Interior Secretary, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gi... David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump's nominee to be Interior Secretary, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 17, 2020 10:20 a.m.
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Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt is in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

A department spokesman, Nicholas Goodwin, said in a statement to the Washington Post that the secretary was asymptomatic after testing positive for coronavirus ahead of a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

The secretary did not attend the meeting after receiving news of his diagnosis, but had previously spent the past two days meeting with political appointees.

Goodwin told the Post that the secretary is “following all CDC guidelines and consulting with medical professionals as appropriate,” adding that the Interior Department would follow CDC guidelines, including identifying close contacts and cleaning work spaces amid the positive test result. 

Bernhardt joins a growing list of Trump officials at the Interior Department and elsewhere who have tested positive for coronavirus in recent weeks. While most Interior employees assigned to the department’s headquarters are working remotely, a handful continue to come into the office regularly, according to the Post.

The news of Bernhardt’s diagnosis comes after President Donald Trump on Sunday said he would not rush to get the COVID-19 vaccine and delay its distribution to members of his administration after after the New York Times and Bloomberg reported that he and senior White House officials would be among the first to get the new vaccine as distribution began earlier this week.

The Post reported that following Bernhardt’s diagnosis, employees at Interior were also told that a large holiday party scheduled for Thursday had been cancelled. 

The party’s cancellation follows news that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had skipped out on his own remarks at a widely criticized holiday party with more than 900 invitees on Tuesday.

Although it was unclear at the time why Pompeo found a substitute to make a speech at the event which ultimately netted low attendance, it was later revealed that Pompeo was in quarantine after exposure to the virus. 

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