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Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report

Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has tested positive for COVID-19 following days of meetings with political appointees, a department spokesman confirmed to The Washington Post Wednesday. 

Interior spokesman Nicholas Goodwin told the Post in an email that Bernhardt, 51, received the diagnosis ahead of a scheduled Cabinet meeting with President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE Wednesday, which Bernhardt did not attend following his positive test. 

“He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine,” Goodwin added. 

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The spokesman also said that the secretary is “following all CDC guidelines and consulting with medical professionals as appropriate,” and that, “Interior will continue to follow all CDC guidelines (i.e. identifying close contacts, cleaning work spaces, etc.) regarding the Secretary’s positive test result.”

The Post reported that Bernhardt has spent the past two days in meetings with a number of Trump officials, and also attended a portrait unveiling for former Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Interior secretary tests positive for COVID-19 after two days of meetings with officials: report MORE last week. Others at that gathering included Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoBiden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary MORE (R-Wyo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' MORE (R-Mont.) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill On The Money: Manhattan DA obtains Trump tax returns | Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda | Biden faces first setback as Tanden teeters MORE (R-N.D.).

Two individuals who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity to openly discuss internal discussions said that employees at Interior were informed that a holiday party scheduled for Thursday has been canceled due to Bernhardt’s diagnosis. 

According to the Post, Bernhardt is at least the third top Interior official to test positive for COVID-19 since November, following Daniel Jorjani after he served as an election observer in Pennsylvania and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. 

Bernhardt’s positive test comes the same day the State Department canceled its holiday party after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina plays the Trump card, but Biden is not buying it Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals MORE was forced to go into quarantine after being exposed to someone with the virus. 

The party's guest list had included 180 foreign ambassadors, chiefs of missions and their spouses, the Post reported.

A State Department spokesperson had confirmed that Pompeo entered quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. He had tested negative, but was “being closely monitored by the Department’s medical team,” the spokesperson said.