State Dept. Spokesman Tests Positive for Coronavirus After Attending UNGA with Blinken

US State Department spokesman Ned Price holds a press briefing on Afghanistan at the State Department in Washington, DC, August 16, 2021. (Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
KEVIN LAMARQUE/POOL/AFP via Getty

State Department spokesman Ned Price tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus Monday. The diagnosis came after he joined Secretary of State Antony Blinken at numerous meetings with foreign officials at the annual U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) meeting last week.

The spokesman tested positive as the Biden administration deals with still-stranded Americans in Afghanistan, sidelining him for over a week as he quarantines. Price’s test result also comes in the wake of several Biden White House officials who tested positive earlier this summer despite getting vaccinated, a chaotic development that undermines the president’s public messaging, including his September 9 remarks that his administration had made “considerable progress” in combating the coronavirus.

He added that “America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago” when he took office.

Positive cases at the Biden White House also undercut the president’s campaign promise to get the pandemic under control.

Price, who also got the vaccine against COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), described his symptoms as relatively mild, writing on Twitter:

After experiencing symptoms for the first time this morning, I tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter, & will now quarantine for the next ten days. I’m feeling under the weather but am grateful for the protection from severe illness offered by safe and effective vaccines.

“In New York, Price attended numerous events with Blinken, including meetings with foreign ministers and senior officials from more than 60 countries,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The spokesman attended the General Assembly as part of a large U.S. delegation that included dozens of senior diplomats.

However, no one from the delegation other than Price has tested positive for the virus so far.

Jalina Porter, a deputy State Department spokesperson, reportedly confirmed Blinken tested negative Monday morning.

There is no indication that any of the secretary’s upcoming trips, including Mexico and Europe, might be rescheduled.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken exits the room after speaking to media on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, on September 23, 2021. (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken exits the room after speaking to media on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, on September 23, 2021. (EDUARDO MUNOZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After finding no turning point in the foreseeable future that indicates the virus will come under control, Biden’s deputies have settled for a “manageable middle” approach focused on having fewer infections, deaths, and hospital visits rather than bringing them down to zero.

The Biden team shifted its goal post after then-candidate Biden accused former President Donald Trump of “waving the white flag of surrender” when his administration made a similar determination that instead of focusing on getting the virus completely under control, it would devote its energy to managing the virus with mitigation tools, including vaccines, therapeutics, social distancing, and masks, much like what the sitting administration is doing.

There have been mixed messages from the Biden administration on what it expects the U.S. public to do to stem the spread of the virus.

This month, President Biden ordered widespread vaccination mandates for private companies of 100 or more employees and federal contractors to reduce infections.

Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro conceded last week the Biden administration did not test thousands of Haitian migrants for coronavirus before releasing them into the U.S. in recent days.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas gestures as he speaks at a press briefing at the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Mayorkas announced that the influx of Haitian immigrants camped under the bridge in Del Rio, Texas had been cleared. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at a press briefing at the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Mayorkas announced the influx of Haitian immigrants camped under the bridge in Del Rio, Texas had been cleared. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty)

Moreover, the State Department waived the coronavirus test requirement for the thousands of potentially infected evacuees in Afghanistan, a hotspot for the pandemic, flown into the United States before President Biden pulled out all American troops in the wake of Kabul’s collapse to the Taliban on August 15.

Biden withdrew the U.S. forces on August 31, ending a two-week-long military-backed evacuation effort before the State Department was able to organize the rescue of all Americans seeking to leave Afghanistan.

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