U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tested positive for coronavirus on Monday morning and is isolating at home after experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News.
HUD’s Chief of Staff Andrew Hughes said in the memo sent to the agency’s staff that Carson was “resting at his house and is already beginning to feel better.”
Anyone who had contact with Carson within the past week will be notified and “all precautions are being taken,” Hughes wrote.
He was tested at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington on Monday after he began to experience symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“He is in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery,” the agency’s deputy chief of staff, Coalter Baker, said in a statement.
Baker said that Carson attended an election night party on Tuesday at the White House. President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, tested positive for coronavirus the day after he attended the same party.
Few of the attendees at the crowded party were seen wearing masks. ABC News reported Carson’s positive test earlier on Monday.
The event has triggered renewed scrutiny of the White House’s disregard for basic safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
Earlier: Trump Aides Frustrated After Meadows’s Silence on Infection (1)
In addition to Carson and Meadows, at least five other White House officials have tested positive in recent days, as well as a senior Trump campaign adviser.
Some aides to Trump were frustrated that Meadows did not issue a statement after he tested positive. His infection was not widely known among the staff until late Friday, when it was reported by Bloomberg News.
Several other cabinet chiefs were in attendance at the election night party, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Attorney General William Barr and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
Mnuchin tested negative on Monday, according to the Treasury Department. Azar, one of the only people at the party to be photographed wearing a mask, made a Monday morning appearance on Fox News.
He said he had not been in close contact with Carson at the party.
Barr is negative for the virus, according to his spokeswoman Kerri Kupec. The Justice Department didn’t immediately say when he was last tested.
Carson was a world-renowned neurosurgeon before he entered politics and he was named a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force. His age, 69, makes him more vulnerable to serious illness from the virus.
Virus cases have surged across the country in recent weeks, raising fears that the infection rate could soar even further in the winter months. More than 9.9 million people in the U.S. have been infected and over 237,000 people have died since the pandemic began.
— With assistance by Saleha Mohsin, and Chris Strohm
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