Former mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was recently confirmed and sworn-in as secretary of the Transportation Department (DOT), but it may be a few more weeks yet before he is able to fully settle into his new office.
Secretary Buttigieg will instead be leading the department from the confines of quarantine after being in “close contact” with another individual that has tested positive for COVID-19, Politico reported.
The 14-day quarantine for Buttigieg was prompted Monday after a member of his security detail was found to be infected with the coronavirus.
Security agent tested positive
According to a statement from DOT chief of staff Laura Schiller, the security agent who tested positive for COVID-19 “had been in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with Secretary Buttigieg, including this morning prior to the agent’s positive result.”
Schiller noted that Buttigieg had also taken a PCR test at the same time as the agent. The secretary’s results were negative and he hadn’t shown any signs of symptoms.
“Secretary Buttigieg will take all necessary steps to ensure there is no spread, including quarantining for a period of 14 days, and will continue to follow all other CDC guidelines,” the statement continued. “He received the first dose of the vaccination in recent weeks, and will receive the second dose when his quarantine is completed.”
Schiller added that “contact tracing protocols” had been launched immediately after the security agent had tested positive and, thus far, at least one other member of the security detail, deemed to have been in “close contact” with the other agent who tested positive, had similarly been placed in quarantine.
Politico noted that, as per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “close contact” requiring subsequent isolation and quarantine is defined as “being within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.”
First of Biden’s team to be quarantined
Buttigieg has only recently been confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 86-13. He was sworn-in as the new Transportation secretary last week and immediately started his tenure by meeting with transit workers at Washington D.C.’s Union Station.
It was also noted that he is the first known member of Biden’s cabinet to be forced into quarantine following potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Presumably, Buttigieg will quarantine at a residence in the D.C. area and not travel home to Indiana. If he were to return to Indiana, doing so would seemingly undermine his recent suggestion that the DOT, in conjunction with the CDC, could soon require proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to allowing anybody to board any domestic flight.
Buttigieg recently told Axios of the possible new travel requirement and said, “There’s an active conversation with the CDC right now. What I can tell you is, it’s going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out.”