Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 after attending Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, parties and a Sunday brunch.
The State Department said that Blinken tested positive on a PCR test after testing negative for several days, including on an antigen test Wednesday morning.
‘The Secretary has not seen President Biden in person for several days, and the President is not considered a close contact according to guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,’ a statement from the State Department said.
Blinken only has ‘mild symptoms,’ State said, and he’s fully vaccinated and boosted.
Blinken was spotted through WHCD weekend attending several events including the dinner itself, the Paramount-CBS after-party at the French ambassador’s house and a Sunday brunch hosted by Politico.
He met with Armenia’s foreign minister Monday, Mexico’s foreign minister Tuesday and Sweden’s foreign minister earlier Wednesday, before his positive test result came back.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (center) arrives Saturday evening at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, alongside his wife Evan Ryan (left). He tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) poses in the ballroom at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor (left). Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, after ABC News’ Jon Karl (back left) did. Taylor was at the White House Wednesday standing alongside President Joe Biden at an Olympics event
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) and his wife Evan Ryan (left) pose on the red carpet of Paramount and CBS’ swanky WHCD after-party at the French ambassador’s residence
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (right) me with Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde (left) at the State Department Wednesday before testing positive for COVID-19
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the 52nd annual Conference on the Americas luncheon at the State Department on Tuesday, a day before testing positive for COVID-19
By Tuesday, attendees of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner had started testing positive for COVID-19, after the comedic headliner Trevor Noah joked that they were attending ‘the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event.’
Most notably, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl tested positive Monday night, Politico first reported, after being seated next to Kim Kardashian at the dinner and briefly interacting with President Joe Biden.
‘He tested positive for COVID Monday night, but tested negative on Saturday afternoon before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner by medically-supervised staff,’ a person familiar with the matter told Politico. ‘He had no symptoms on Saturday. Jon is currently isolating and participating in contact tracing.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Biden wasn’t considered a close contact to anyone who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
‘If he had we would have announced that publicly to all of you,’ Psaki said.
CNN reported Tuesday that some staff from CNN, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News and Politico have tested positive since the dinner.
Additionally, a reporter from The Washington Post tweeted that she tested positive after attending the dinner and several events.
Thousands of people attend the dinner, which was held in the Washington Hilton’s basement-level ballroom, the traditional locale.
Guests at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner are testing positive for COVID-19. Organizers had attendees take a COVID antigen test in the 24 hours leading up to the dinner
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah (left), greeting President Joe Biden, joked that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner would become a superspreader. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl (right) tested positive Monday after sitting next to Kim Kardashian and interacting with Biden
Unlike the early April Gridiron dinner – where more than 10 per cent of dinner guests tested positive for COVID in its aftermath – the White House Correspondents’ Association had attendees take an antigen test in the 24 hours before dinner began.
The Gridiron Club only required guests to show proof of vaccination.
Pete Davidson (left) and Kim Kardashian (right) walk the red carpet at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Trevor Noah joked that, ‘Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it’s OK. ‘And we all went with Pete’
WHCD attendees had to snap a picture of their negative COVID test and upload it to an app called Bindle.
Another difference between the Gridiron Dinner and WHCD is that while the Gridiron Dinner is a singular event, the WHCD is generally a whole weekend of parties – kicking off Thursday night with several fetes, it continues through the weekend with dinners, after-parties and at least three large-scale brunches.
Organizers approached COVID protocols differently at every event.
At a minimum, most required proof of vaccination – though it wasn’t always checked.
Others didn’t take any chances.
At the annual Creative Coalition dinner, for example, held Friday night at the YOTEL Washington, guests couldn’t enter the indoor dinner space without being swabbed for COVID first.
The arts advocacy group hired Viral Concierge to perform a rapid antigen test.
Guests received their COVID test results directly to their phones, which they presented to security as their ticket to enter.
The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association Steven Portnoy pointed to the association’s 24-hour testing procotols in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘We worked hard to publicize our protocols and encouraged those eligible to get booster shots in the weeks leading up to the dinner,’ Portnoy said. ‘Our event implemented protocols that went beyond any guidance or regulation issued by the CDC or the D.C. health department.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci (left), who attended the superspreader Gridiron Dinner in early April, opted to skip the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but did attend Saturday’s predominantly outdoor garden brunch. He’s photographed with one of the organizers, Tammy Haddad (right)
‘We wish anyone who may not be feeling well a speedy recovery,’ Portnoy added.
A DailyMail.com inquiry about whether the group is keeping track of positive cases has gone unreturned.
Noah immediately brought up the fact that the dinner could turn into a superspreader when he took over the podium from Biden at Saturday night’s dinner.
‘It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event,’ he said.
‘For real, what are we doing here? Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Nothing?’ he said. Do you read any of your own newspapers?’ the Daily Show host asked.
‘You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large in-door gatherings, then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan,’ Noah added.
Noah pointed out that Biden’s top COVID adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, decided against attending the dinner.
Fauci had been a guest at the Gridiron Dinner – and attended at least one outdoor event over WHCD weekend, the Saturday morning Garden Brunch.
‘I mean Dr. Fauci dropped out, that should have been a pretty big sign,’ Noah went on. ‘Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it’s OK,’ Noah said to laughs.
‘And we all went with Pete,’ he said.