Vice president’s staffer, others test positive for the coronavirus after weekend gathering

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland, second from right, and others attend a news conference.
Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland, second from right, attends a news conference Wednesday shortly before announcing he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, the second close contact of the vice president to become infected in less than a month.

Harris’ office did not announce test results for the vice president, but a statement from her press secretary, Kirsten Allen, said she was following official guidance and “plans to continue with her public schedule,” implying that she is not ill. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, tested positive last month for the coronavirus.

Jamal Simmons, the vice president’s communications director, is one of several high-profile people in Washington who have tested positive for the virus after attending the Gridiron dinner Saturday night, a traditional white-tie gathering of reporters and politicians that features light roasts and songs.


Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland and Gina Raimondo, the secretary of Commerce who was the headline speaker, announced positive test results, as did Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).

Other high-profile guests included Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, and Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor. Rochelle Walensky, who leads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also attended the event. Guests this year were asked to show proof of vaccination but were not required to take a coronavirus test to gain admission.

Neither President Biden nor Harris attended the dinner, though previous presidents and vice presidents have participated in the event. The dinner was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Harris’ office announced that Simmons would self-isolate and work from home.