A handful of coronavirus cases have surfaced among people attending the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend, the Correspondents Association president said Tuesday.

Steven Portnoy of CBS News Radio, which heads the White House Correspondents’ Association, said the cases he knew so far were numbered in “single digits.”

Among those who tested positive after the gala — an annual event that was skipped for two years because of the pandemic — was Steve Herman, a national chief correspondent for Voice of America. Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ chief correspondent in Washington, also tested positive, according to a person familiar with the case.

The number of official cases in Washington has largely declined since the winter Omicron wave, but there has been a modest increase since mid-April. But the actual number of cases is uncertain, as home tests are generally not officially reported and asymptomatic people may not realize they are infected and can spread the virus.

Many had wondered whether it was advisable to gather a crowd of 2,600 people in the packed ballroom of the Washington Hilton hotel. Their concerns were underlined after dozens of people, including several members of Mr Biden’s cabinet, recently tested positive after attending a smaller political gathering, the Gridiron dinner.

Participants in that event were required to show proof of vaccination, but no test results on the same day. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner required proof of vaccination and a negative test on the same day, and boosters were strongly encouraged. Masking was optional with both.

Karl’s positive test was first reported by Politico, who also reported shaking hands with President Biden during the event.

The White House, when asked about that meeting, pointed Tuesday evening to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which believe that “close contact” means being within five feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. spent. White House protocols required anyone who would have been near the president on the podium, including Mr. Karl and Mr. Noah, take a medically certified test, according to a person familiar with the protocols.

Mr Karl tested negative on Saturday afternoon and had no symptoms but tested positive on Monday evening, the person familiar with his situation said.

Mr Biden, 79, did not wear a mask when making comments onstage or during comedian Trevor Noah’s roughly half-hour commentary, but skipped the knife-and-fork portion of the dinner. In his comments, he nodded to the security measures surrounding the event. “We are here to show the country that we are getting through this pandemic,” he told the crowd.

Mr. Noah opened his comments bluntly. “It is a great honor for me to speak tonight at the country’s premier super spreader event,” he said as the crowd laughed. “No, really, folks, what are we doing here? Let’s face it, what are we doing? Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Nothing?” More laughter.

“Do you read all your own newspapers?” he continued, adding: “You have been telling everyone for the past two years how important it is to wear masks and avoid large gatherings indoors. The second time someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan.”

The extravagant gala is often booked by a number of other parties and receptions in the capital, who set their own safety guidelines.

dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s chief medical adviser on the virus, withdrew from the dinner last week, citing an “individual assessment of my personal risk,” though he reportedly attended a related indoor risk over the weekend. attended outdoor brunch event .

Mr Portnoy stressed on Tuesday that the protocols implemented by the Correspondents Association for the dinner itself went beyond current guidelines from health authorities and referred to an email he sent to members in April.

“Nothing we implement to protect the ballroom can reach the many social events that other organizers organize around our dinner,” he wrote in that email. “Keep that in mind.”

Zolan Kanno Youngs reporting contributed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.