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 TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate 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 ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill MORE last week. Others at that gathering included Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Tracy Stone-Manning's confirmation treatment was simply unacceptable — and it must stop Former Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi dies after bicycle accident MORE (R-Wyo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill  Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan faces major FTC test | Amazon calls for her recusal | Warren taps commodities watchdog to probe Google Senators propose bill to help private sector defend against hackers MORE (R-Mont.) and Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Trump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands 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 PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions 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.