Attorney General Merrick Garland tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, hours after holding a news conference with senior law enforcement officials at the Justice Department to announce new legal measures taken against Russian individuals or entities.
Officials did not say what that exposure might have been, but over the weekend Garland attended the Gridiron dinner, a gathering of politicians, journalists and public officials. Several other attendees have also announced days later that they had contracted the virus, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“The Attorney General is fully vaccinated and boosted,” the Justice Department said in a statement. Officials said that in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Garland will isolate at home for at least five days and work remotely. The Justice Department also said it would conduct contact tracing.
Garland contracted the virus just as the Justice Department, like other federal agencies, was starting to loosen some of its pandemic protocols, including limits on the number of people who may gather together in federal buildings.
Mask-wearing is not currently required. A small number of the journalists and officials at the news conference wore masks, but most — including Garland — did not. Among other senior law enforcement officials at the event, Garland stood next to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.