Three House Democrats test positive for Covid after retreat
At least four House Democrats have said in quick succession that they tested positive for the coronavirus after a party retreat held in Philadelphia last week.
Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania announced his positive result on Monday; representatives Zoe Lofgren of California And Kim Schreier of Washington announced on Sunday, and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut on Saturday.
All four delegates said they had been vaccinated and extended, and were experiencing only mild symptoms. According to one person present, all four attended the House Democratic Caucus’ retreat in Philadelphia last week. It was unclear, and it was difficult to know whether they were exposed and infected at each gathering or elsewhere.
Another House Democrat, Representative Gerry Connolly of Northern Virginia, who said he tested positive for the virus on FridayWas not present at the retreat, the attendee said.
The retreat was the caucus’ first major individual event in three years. It was intended to reset something for the party hoping to go into a difficult midterm election season. Much of the party’s legislative agenda has been fueled by differences between moderates and progressives, compounded by the weaknesses of the Democrats’ grip on the Senate.
On Wednesday, House Democrats found themselves having to cut $15.6 billion in funding planned to secure a necessary spending bill for President Biden’s pandemic response efforts.
The House passed the measure late Wednesday with $1.5 trillion in total spending. Remote voting was allowed, so it was not clear which members were physically present for the vote. Many Democrats then went on to return to Philadelphia.
Mr Biden addressed the gathering in person on Friday. Asked at a White House news conference on Monday why he was masked when entering an event earlier in the day, the press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Mr Biden would sometimes do so if event guidelines required it. But she will investigate. He said the president had received a negative virus test result on Sunday.
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said none of the delegates at the retreat were believed to be close contacts of the president, and that nothing had changed about their testing cadence.
According to the protocol shared by the Director of Communications of the caucus, all members of Congress who were to attend the gathering, as well as their staff members and families, were required to submit PCR or rapid antigen test prior to the event. Attendees were required to take a quick test in their hotel rooms on Thursday and Friday mornings, but masks were not required. The mask mandate for the House floor in the Capitol building was lifted in late February, shortly before Mr Biden’s State of the Union address.
Senator Gene Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, also said on Sunday that he had tested positive. She did not attend the House Democrats retreat.
In all, at least 100 members of Congress have announced tests positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to a tally by Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan election information website.
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