One of Vice President Kamala Harris’ top aides, communications director Jamaal Simmons, tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, Fox News reported.
That revelation came less than 24 hours after Simmons had been in close contact with the vice president, President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and several other prominent officials and individuals at a White House event Tuesday.
Top Harris aide tests positive
Kirsten Allen, press secretary for Vice President Harris, announced in a Wednesday statement that Simmons had tested positive for COVID and that “Jamal was in close contact to the Vice President as defined by CDC guidance. Jamal is isolating and working from home.”
“The Vice President will follow CDC guidance for those that have been in close contact with a positive individual and will continue to consult with her physician. The Vice President plans to continue with her public schedule,” the statement added.
The Hill noted that this is just the latest close call with COVID for the vice president, as her husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, had tested positive for the virus just a couple of weeks ago, though Harris herself appears to have avoided contracting the illness as well.
Superspreader event for D.C. elite
It is unclear when or where, exactly, Simmons may have caught COVID-19, but he was in attendance days earlier at Saturday’s Gridiron Club dinner, an annual event for Washington D.C. elitists that appears to have been a so-called “superspreader” event this year, according to The Washington Post.
As of Wednesday, more than a dozen guests who had been at that dinner have since tested positive for the virus, including at least two members of Biden’s Cabinet, members of Congress, members of the press, and other unnamed government officials.
Those Cabinet officials included Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Interestingly, organizers of the dinner didn’t test any of the attendees and simply required proof of vaccination to enter the largely maskless event in which hundreds of individuals mingled close to each other for several hours.
“There is no way of being certain about when they first contracted covid,” Tom DeFrank, president of the Gridiron Club, said in a statement about the positive COVID cases linked to the event, of which there are at least 14 so far. “But they did interact with other guests during the night and we have to be realistic and expect some more cases.”
No word on Biden’s status, Pelosi tests positive
Given that Simmons was in “close contact” with VP Harris on Tuesday, who, in turn, was in close contact with President Biden, former President Obama, and many others at the White House event that same day, there is obviously some concern among the press corps about Biden’s potential exposure to the virus as well.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki danced around the issue, would not confirm when Biden was last tested for the virus, but insisted that all proper protocols were being followed and that anybody who would be close to the president was routinely tested beforehand.
Meanwhile, CNBC reported Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who didn’t attend the weekend Gridiron Club dinner but was at the White House event on Tuesday and close to Biden, has now tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine under CDC guidelines despite being “asymptomatic.”