WASHINGTON — U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19 before sitting out of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet meeting later in the day, his department confirmed.
“He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine.” Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement to USA TODAY.
The Washington Post, which first reported the secretary’s positive test, reported Bernhardt is at least the third top official from the department to contract the coronavirus since November. The Post reported Bernhardt’s infection has “set off a wave of tests” among other among high-ranking department officials.
Earlier Wednesday, the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Pompeo, who also did not attend the Cabinet meeting, tested negative for the virus, according to the State Department.
Goodwin said Bernhardt, 51, is “following all CDC guidelines and consulting with medical professionals as appropriate” and that the department has been operating on a “max telework status” at its Washington headquarters and nationwide.
He said the department intends to identify close contacts of Bernhardt and clean work spaces following the secretary’s positive test result.
Last week, Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, attended a portrait unveiling for former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at the Interior Department’s headquarters, Politico reported.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.