After the Gridiron Dinner, a coward erupts among Washington A-list guests

It should be an evening of light political satire and bilateral friendship between the elite of journalists and politicians, as it has been for almost a century and a half – and two years later the traditional Washington social cycle has returned. Pause.

Instead, the annual Gridron dinner on Saturday may be best remembered for a possibility Corona virus Explosion among its A-list guests.

By Wednesday morning, delegates Adam P. Schiff (D-Calif.) And Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) And Secretary of Commerce Gina Raymondo After attending a dinner at the Downtown Renaissance Washington Hotel, he announced that he had received positive results in the corona virus tests. Soon the Attorney General followed them Merrick Garland called for a trial Wednesday afternoon He may have emerged after learning – and discovered that he too had carried the virus.

Vice President Harris’ communications director Jamal Simmons said on Wednesday he had a positive test and was now isolated at home. But since he was in close contact with Harris, his spokeswoman said she would also consult a doctor.

In addition, about half a dozen journalists and members of the White House and National Security Council staff said they had tested positive after the event. Their names are withheld because they do not make their position public.

It is not clear how many infections started during dinner and how severe the outbreak was. Many guests have jobs that require routine testing, catch some asymptomatic events, and require all guests to show proof of vaccination. Schiff said Castro and Raymondo were experiencing only mild symptoms “Feeling better” – and stated the value of vaccines and boosters.

But the eruption of the Gridron – cast in some comic skits dressed as a corona virus, red like large, green hopping balls – exemplifies much of the country’s personal risk-benefit balancing act once the epidemic subsides.

Managers and many professionals, more than two years after the outbreak, have the tools to determine what level of risk individuals are now willing to tolerate – and every social interaction, big or small, comes with one. Zero risk of Govt-19 and other respiratory diseases.

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“The virus is not going anywhere. There can be no action that does not involve some degree of cov- eral risk associated with it, ”said Amash Atalja, an epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Health Care Center. “People come out to bars every day. People eat dinner, watch sports, do whatever they want, but if it happens to a celebrity or politician, it will become something you need to talk about.

Many White House aides who tested positive did so after leaving for Poland with President Biden last week and before dinner at Gridron. White House spokeswoman Jen Zhaki, who attended the Gridron party, reiterated on Wednesday that all White House staffers approaching Biden would continue to be screened.

Biden did not attend the dinner, but appeared via video.

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Tom Defrank, a contributor to the National Journal and president of the Gridron Club, said in a statement that guests coming to dinner should show proof of vaccination, but “a small number of our guests have reported positive tests since then.”

“We want them to recover quickly,” he said.

The white-tie and gown dinner was attended by about 630 guests, including members of Congress, cabinet, embassy, ​​military and business.

Among those in attendance, Anthony S. Fouzi, the country’s leading epidemiologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rossel Walenski.

Sense in other guests. Susan Collins (R-Mine), Edward J. Marquee (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Min.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DNY) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). ; Representatives. Jamie P. Ruskin (D-Md.) And Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.); Secretary of Agriculture Tom Wilsack and Special Presidential Ambassador John F. Kerry; Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell; Governments Larry Hogan (R-Md.) And Chris Sununu (RN.H.); And New York Mayor Eric Adams (D).

The Senate vote to confirm Biden’s Supreme Court candidate, Gotanji Brown Jackson, is likely to be delayed by senators at the dinner party. A vote may come this weekend; No delays were reported.

Former NFL best Emmit Smith was also on the dinner guest list; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; CBS presenter Jane Polly and his wife, “Toonsbury” cartoonist Gary Trudeau; Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova; “Face the Nation” presenter Margaret Brennan, PBS NewsHour presenter Judy Woodruff; ABC Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Carl and Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan and Editor Sally Pussby.

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After the pre-cocktail reception, guests sat together for hours at long, narrow tables and watched the satire and songs performed by the members. At the end of the event, guests joined in the traditional song “Auld Lang Syne”.

Dinner will reflect a return to normal after being canceled for the past two years due to infection. Attendees reported that some guests wore masks or observed social space. Only the serving staff wore masks throughout the evening. Although organizers ask participants to show their vaccination cards at their doorstep, there is no need to test.

The evening paintings, performed by senior Washington journalists, parodied people from both parties, despite former Republicans such as former President Donald Trump, deputies Marjorie Taylor Green (Co.), and Lauren Bobert (Col.). And Paul A. Kosher (Ariz.), Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Governor Ron Desantis, and Sense. Ted Cruz (Tex.) And Tom Cotton (Ark.) – came in for a sharp jab. None of those figures attended.

At one point, an artist dressed as Fauzy sang from the stage to the real Fossie: “Doctor, Doctor, give me some clues, we’re got a bad case of Covit Blues.”

Gridron Dinner is a small, elite precursor to the well-known White House Reporters’ Association meeting in late April. Steven Portnoy, the organization’s chairman, said earlier this week that 2,600 guests at dinner would be required to show a negative corona virus test on the same day, which they could upload to the app.

The president usually attends the WHCA banquet, although Trump has never attended the White House in years. Biden has not yet announced his plans.

The Gridiron Club dinner appears to have been held in accordance with the latest official guidelines for the protection of the Govt.

The CDC updated its guidelines on February 25 to facilitate mask recommendations for the majority of the country’s population, and all 50 states have lifted their mask mandate in recent weeks. More than 95 percent of the country, including DC, is classified by the CDC as having a low disease load, meaning the company does not recommend the mask order.

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But some experts have warned that the new CDC guidelines could leave the country unprepared in the event of another wave. The BA.2 variant has caused a sharp rise in cases in Europe and has become a dominant strain in the United States, although cases have not yet begun to rise nationally. Some parts of the country, including the Northeast, are beginning to experience a moderate increase in epidemics.

Abrid Karan, an epidemiologist at Stanford University, said the eruption of events such as the Gridron dinner could be imminent. “These big explosions will start slowly and then you will notice them. I am not surprised that this big explosion happened in a crowd that people were testing later,” Karan said.

“We are constantly checking the boundaries. Everyone is checking the boundaries little by little. We are trying to see what the tolerable risk level is, but if you have a big explosion, it suspends everyone,” Karan said.

Fauci, who said he did not have a positive test, said he would follow CDC guidelines when deciding to attend dinner. He said he made the personal decision that the risk of attending was low for three reasons: he was vaccinated and encouraged, needed proof of the vaccine to enter dinner, and DC disease was classified as having a low load of CDC measurements. That classification means that individuals can go without a mask on internal systems.

Fassi said he wore the mask during the reception but took it off to eat.

“We are in a situation where, as a population, we have to make a decision based on the data, as well as our own choice to take any level of risk that you make,” Fauzi said. “I have followed the CDC’s guidelines, which say it’s okay to be indoors without a mask.

Personnel writer Tyler Pager contributed to this report.

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