Virus hits DC: Two AIPAC conference attendees tested positive for coronavirus

(Image: White House screenshot)

Two people at a Washington D.C. conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence and other lawmakers have tested positive for coronavirus.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee announced that two people who traveled from New York to Washington, D.C. to attend the conference this week have been affected by the contagious disease.

(Source: Fox 5-TV)

“We have confirmed that at least two Policy Conference attendees from New York have tested positive for the Coronavirus,” AIPAC told conference attendees and participants in an email on Friday.

“We have continued to remain in constant communication with the Westchester County Health Department and the DC Health Department which is coordinating with the New York Health Department, and national health authorities,” the message read.

More than about 18,000 people, and a large number of congressional members, attend the annual conference by the pro-Israel lobbying group, according to its website.

This year, Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as well as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming attended. Also on hand were former 2020 Democratic candidates Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated that they had not heard about the AIPAC cases when asked at a press conference about coronavirus.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it, in the midst of a busy day,” Pence, who is leading the administration response to the outbreak, said. “We will be engaged I’m confident in the same contact tracing that we are for any case.”

“If you have someone who was here, the risk of there being a major outbreak obviously, which everybody thinks about,” Fauci said, “but what will happen is that those individuals that were infected will have contact tracing and that’s the ‘public health weapon,’ if you want to call it, that we have.”

Earlier in the week, AIPAC had alerted conference participants that the attendees from New York had potentially been exposed to someone who contracted the coronavirus.

“Although we have been told by the DC Health Department there is no reason to ‘sound the alarm,’ we want to be sure all Policy Conference attendees have the information we have at this time,” an email read, adding that it was considered a “low-risk exposure.”

The D.C. Department of Health found “there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time,” sharing in a statement Friday that it was investigating in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health.

“All attendees and members of the public are urged to follow the well-established prevention tips like staying home if sick and calling ahead to a health provider if experiencing symptoms,” the Health Department said.

Of the more than 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. so far, 19 are located in Westchester County, N.Y., according to The Hill. Two people in Florida have died from coronavirus bringing the total to 17 people who have now died across the country. On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the virus.


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