Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has tested positive for COVID-19, adding his name to a list of recent high-profile confirmations among some of the highest seats in government.
Vilsack announced the test on his Twitter account Saturday, saying he is experiencing mild symptoms. He says he is fully vaccinated and boosted; a spokesperson for the department said Vilsack has received his second booster shot. “If you have yet to get vaccinated and boosted, please don’t wait,” Vilsack said.
In a separate message, Vilsack’s USDA office said the positive test took place on Friday after he was symptomatic. His office said they opted to share the news of the test “out of an abundance of transparency.
“The Secretary’s office is conducting contact tracing and is notifying those with whom he may have been a close contact in accordance with CDC guidance,” the statement said.
The test comes on the heels of Vilsack’s recent trip to Mexico. He was there April 4 and 5 and announced an agreement to loosen restrictions on potato trade between the two countries. USDA said Vilsack tested negative both prior to and after returning from his trip, but “the Mexican government has been informed of this positive test” out of an abundance of caution.
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Several other government officials announced positive tests last week including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Washington mayor Muriel Bowser, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and several White House aides.
USDA says Vilsack plans to isolate “in accordance with CDC guidelines and will return to the office after testing negative for the virus. During that time, he will continue his official duties.”
Vilsack was previously scheduled to attend an event in Colorado Monday with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to launch a series of events aimed at highlighting the benefits of the 2021 infrastructure bill for rural communities. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore will stand in for him at the event, USDA announced Saturday.
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