USAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19
John Barsa, the acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), tested positive for COVID-19, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
Acting USAID spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala told The Hill in a statement that Barsa tested positive on Wednesday for the coronavirus after a rapid diagnostic test.
“The Acting Deputy Administrator has been isolating since he began exhibiting symptoms late Monday, November 23, and will continue to until a retest is conclusive,” Jhunjhunwala said.
Barsa reportedly informed senior staff on Wednesday of his positive test, two sources familiar with the call told Axios. Staffers told the news outlet that Barsa rarely wears a mask in their office.
Jhunjhunwala said in the statement that the USAID “has prioritized the health and safety of our employees, and taken seriously the guidelines for safety protocols and physical distancing issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”
Barsa is the latest senior administrator to test positive for the virus, following Donald Trump Jr., senior White House aide Andrew Giuliani and others. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump also tested positive for COVID-19 in early October.
The acting USAID administrator was scheduled to travel to Honduras this weekend after the country was hit by Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota, but administrators told Axios they believe the trip will be canceled after the test results.
USAID, which is an independent agency, collaborates with the State Department on international development and disaster assistance efforts.