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 Trump 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. 

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 Zinke last week. Others at that gathering included Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Kevin Cramer (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 Pompeo 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.

Tags Cabinet coronavirus cases coronavirus covid-19 David Bernhardt Department of Interior Donald Trump John Barrasso Kevin Cramer Mike Pompeo Ryan Zinke State Department Steve Daines The Washington Post Trump Administration

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