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Attorney General Garland and Commerce Secretary Raimondo test positive for Covid

The vice president's communications director, who was in close contact with Vice President Kamala Harris, and several lawmakers also announced they had contracted the virus.

Two top Biden administration officials, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday as the coronavirus continues to spread in high levels of government more than two years into the pandemic.

Garland tested positive Wednesday afternoon and is not exhibiting symptoms, the Justice Department said in a statement. It said Garland is fully vaccinated and has received a booster shot.

Earlier Wednesday, Garland attended a news conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray, where he announced the unsealing of criminal charges against Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.

The Justice Department said it was conducting contact tracing in accordance with protocols set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A White House official said Garland was determined not to be a close contact of President Joe Biden.

Biden tested negative for the virus during his most recent test Monday, the White House said Wednesday.

But the White House also said the vice president's communications director, Jamal Simmons, tested positive Wednesday and had been in close contact with Vice President Kamala Harris.

"The Vice President will follow CDC guidance for those that have been in close contact with a positive individual and will continue to consult with her physician. The Vice President plans to continue with her public schedule," Kirsten Allen, a spokesperson for Harris, said in a statement.

According to the CDC, subvariant BA.2 of the omicron variant of the coronavirus now accounts for about 72 percent of all new Covid cases in the U.S.

At the Commerce Department, Raimondo said on Twitter that she was tested after she experienced mild symptoms.

“I am confident that this vaccine is the reason I don’t have more severe symptoms,” Raimondo tweeted, noting that she had also been boosted.

Raimondo attended Saturday night’s Gridiron Dinner in Washington, an annual social gathering of high-profile political, media and business figures that had been on a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.

“We are in the process of notifying those with whom she may have been a close contact as defined by CDC guidance,” Raimondo’s office said in a statement.

Biden did not attend the dinner.

Several lawmakers also announced this week that they had contracted the virus, including Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Scott Peters of California and Joaquin Castro of Texas.

Schiff and Castro attended the Gridiron Dinner. Peters' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he attended, as well.