Attorney General Merrick Garland tests positive for Covid-19

By Paul LeBlanc and Karl de Vries, CNN

    (CNN) -- Attorney General Merrick Garland tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, the Justice Department said.

Garland, 69, is not experiencing symptoms but asked to be tested after learning he may have been exposed to the virus, the department said. He is fully vaccinated and boosted.

Earlier Wednesday, Garland attended a news conference with other officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, to announce sanctions against Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.

"In accordance with CDC guidelines, the Attorney General will isolate at home for at least five days," the Justice Department said in a statement. "He will work virtually during this period and will return to the office following a negative test for the virus. The department will conduct contact tracing in accordance with CDC protocols."

Garland is the latest high-profile Washington figure to test positive for Covid-19 in recent days. Another member of President Joe Biden's Cabinet, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, said Wednesday she had tested positive after having attended the Gridiron dinner in Washington over the weekend, and Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro and Adam Schiff have also announced positive tests.

The Commerce Department said in a statement Wednesday that Raimondo is "experiencing mild symptoms" but is "confident that the vaccine has prevented her from experiencing more significant symptoms."

Schiff said in a Tuesday tweet that he was "feeling fine," and Castro reported in his own of "experiencing mild symptoms."

Last month, second gentleman Doug Emhoff tested positive for the virus, marking the first known case of Covid-19 among the first or second families since President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office in January 2021.

Inside the White House, in accordance with federal public health guidelines, officials and visitors have not been required to wear masks or social distance. Visitors are expected to be tested for Covid-19 before attending official White House events.

Covid-19 cases in Washington, DC, have declined since their peak in early January, when the country was facing a wave of Omicron variant cases.

"We're now in a new moment in this pandemic -- (it) does not mean that Covid-19 is over," the President said while receiving his second booster shot last month. "It means that Covid-19 no longer controls our lives."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that he thinks there will be an uptick in cases of Covid-19 in the US over the next few weeks, and that it is likely that there could be a surge in the fall.

"I think we should expect ... that over the next couple of weeks, we are going to see an uptick in cases. And hopefully there is enough background immunity so that we don't wind up with a lot of hospitalizations," Fauci said, when asked by Bloomberg TV's David Westin about the prospect of another wave of Covid-19 from BA.2 or another variant, given the level of immunity believed to exist in the US today.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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