Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to several media reports.
“He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine,” a spokesperson for the agency confirmed to The Washington Post.
Bernhardt, 51, was tested earlier in the day before a Cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump, when he did not then attend. A testing blitz among agency officials is ongoing, and the Department of the Interior’s holiday party, scheduled for Thursday, has been canceled.
Many federal employees that work at the Interior Department have been doing so remotely, but some, including Bernhardt, had been going into the office regularly.
HuffPost has reached out to the Interior Department for comment.
E&E News noted that Bernhardt attended a large, indoor event last week for the unveiling of a portrait of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Few members in the crowd were seen wearing masks.
At least two other top Interior Department officials have contracted the coronavirus in recent weeks, including the agency’s top attorney and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The COVID-19 pandemic has grown more dire in recent weeks. The country reported more than 244,000 cases and more than 3,600 deaths in a 24-hour period ending Wednesday, both records.
The first doses of a new vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech are being administered around the nation to health workers and the elderly, but it will be months before vaccination levels reach the point that infection rates will begin to taper off.
“We should celebrate the fact that the science has come through,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CBS on Wednesday, “but it is not over yet. We have a ways to go. We have to abide by the public health measures that we talk about all the time.”
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
- How long does it take for the coronavirus vaccine to work?
- Which masks will actually keep your face warm this winter?
- Can you close your COVID “bubble” without losing friends forever?
- How will spending the holidays in quarantine affect our mental health?
- What happens to all those face masks and gloves we’re tossing in the trash?
- Find all that and more on our coronavirus hub page.
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