House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently asymptomatic, her office said Thursday. Pelosi, 82, is the first in congressional leadership to test positive and the latest among a raft of Washington officials who have come down with the virus in recent days.
However, Pelosi, who is second in line in presidential succession, was at the White House on Tuesday for the health-care event with President Biden and former president Barack Obama, and she attended the bill signing on a postal reform measure with Biden on Wednesday. Images from both events show her in proximity to the president.
Hammill’s announcement came as Pelosi was scheduled to hold a weekly news conference Thursday morning. Reporters waited for Pelosi, then began filing out of the room as news spread of her positive coronavirus test. The briefing was later canceled.
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Pelosi’s closest friend in Congress, said that she attended two events with the speaker Tuesday and Wednesday evening, the latter of which was a large party in honor of portrait unveiling of Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the retired congressman who served as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
After nearly two years of being quite vigilant in wearing a mask, Pelosi pivoted last month on the day of the State of the Union address, sitting behind Biden, with Vice President Harris, not wearing a mask. Since then, she has mostly not worn a mask, even as some of her most senior advisers have worn them in public settings.
She is the first of the top four leaders of the House and Senate caucuses to test positive for the virus, but the pandemic has been rampaging throughout her caucus for the past few months. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) contracted the virus two months ago, while Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) tested positive just before Christmas as the omicron variant surge began. At least two junior members of her leadership team, Reps. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), have also tested positive, with Clark announcing her result Wednesday.
Pelosi had also been planning to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan and Japan this weekend, according to officials familiar with the speaker’s plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm them. Hammill said Thursday that Pelosi’s planned trip “to Asia … will be postponed to a later date.” Pelosi would have become the first House speaker to travel to Taiwan since Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) did so in 1997.