House speaker latest high-profile Covid case in Washington

WASHINGTON, United States -- Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, has tested positive for Covid-19, her spokesman said Thursday, making her the latest Washington power player to catch the virus.

The 82-year-old lawmaker from California, who is second in line to the presidency, is vaccinated and boosted and is currently asymptomatic, her spokesman Drew Hammill said on Twitter.

Pelosi, who attended two White House events this week with President Joe Biden, is among several high-profile Covid cases in the US capital.

Among those reporting a positive test Thursday were Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, two senators -- Maine Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock of Georgia -- and House Democrat Angie Craig of Minnesota.

At least two members of Biden's cabinet -- Attorney General Merrick Garland, 69, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, 50 -- and several lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus this week after attending a gala dinner in Washington last weekend. Collins also attended the event.

About half a dozen journalists and members of the White House staff who were at the dinner have also tested positive, according to press reports, along with Jamal Simmons, the communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Although Simmons was a close contact, Harris maintained her public schedule and presided over Thursday's historic Senate vote confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.

Pelosi did not attend the annual Gridiron Club dinner, which brings together top politicians, media figures, members of the diplomatic corps and business leaders for a night of comedy.

But the House speaker was at a bill-signing event at the White House on Wednesday with Biden and another event there on Tuesday with Biden and former president Barack Obama.

Most of the attendees at the White House events were maskless.

- Asia trip postponed -

The White House said the 79-year-old Biden, who did not attend the Gridiron dinner, was not considered a "close contact" of Pelosi and they had only "brief interactions."

Biden tested negative for Covid on Wednesday evening and "will continue to be tested regularly," the White House said.

"The president wishes Speaker Pelosi a speedy recovery," it said.

Pelosi's spokesman tweeted that "the Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided."

Pelosi cancelled a press conference planned for Thursday and her spokesman said a congressional visit to Asia she intended to lead has been postponed to a later date.

Pelosi will quarantine in line with the guidance of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her spokesman said.