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Blinken tests positive for coronavirus, State Department says

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on May 4 said Secretary of State Antony Blinken was not in close contact with President Biden in recent days. (Video: The Washington Post)
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tested positive for the coronavirus, the State Department announced Wednesday, becoming the latest member of President Biden’s Cabinet to contract the virus.

Blinken tested positive Wednesday afternoon and “is experiencing only mild symptoms,” the State Department said. He is “fully vaccinated and boosted” and will maintain a virtual work schedule while isolating at home for an unspecified length of time, it added.

The news comes less than 24 hours before Blinken was scheduled to deliver a widely-anticipated address on the Biden administration’s approach to China.

Blinken was among the more than 2,000 attendees at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last weekend. Biden also attended. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the two have not been in close contact according to the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“He has not seen the president in several days, and he is not considered a close contact,” Psaki said of Blinken.

It likely will never be determined how Blinken caught the virus given the top U.S. diplomat’s demanding schedule, involving face-to-face meetings with a broad array of people on a daily basis including foreign and U.S. officials, civil society members, lawmakers and journalists.

Blinken’s Thursday speech, based on a strategy document that was more than a year and a half in the making, is meant to lay out how the United States views its biggest geopolitical rival at a time when other priorities threaten to distract Washington’s gaze, in particular, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department did not clarify whether the speech, set to be delivered in person at George Washington University, would be postponed or delivered virtually from his home, a backdrop that may not match the moment.

Last month, Vice President Harris tested positive for the coronavirus. Harris’s husband, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, tested positive for the coronavirus in March.

In recent days, there have been reports of several coronavirus cases among those who attended the correspondents’ dinner. They include ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl and Voice of America chief national correspondent Steve Herman.