Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, shown at a Capitol Hill news conference on October 7, became the latest attendee of this year's Gridiron Club dinner to announce a positive COVID-19 test. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo
April 9 (UPI) -- The number of attendees testing positive for COVID-19 following last week's annual gala Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, D.C., has risen to 53, the organization's president says.
Gridiron Club President Tom DeFrank confirmed the updated figure in statements to The Washington Post and The Hill after dozens of some of Washington's leading political figures revealed they contracted COVID-19 after last Saturday's elite event.
DeFrank reported Wednesday that 37 people who attended the event had tested positive. He said guests were required to show proof of vaccination.
Among the attendees who contracted COVID-19 were two members of President Joe Biden's Cabinet -- Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
A third cabinet member who was at the dinner -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack -- confirmed Saturday that he, too, has contracted the coronavirus.
"I tested positive for COVID," he wrote in Twitter. "I'm both vaccinated and boosted and thankfully my symptoms are mild. If you have yet to get vaccinated and boosted, please don't wait."
Other guests testing positive include Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Reps. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, and Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Biden's sister, Valerie Biden Owens; and Jamal Simmons, communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris.
Congressional and White House staffers, as well as journalists who attended the event, have also come down with the virus.
The Gridiron Club dinner guest list included special presidential envoy John Kerry, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, The Hill reported.
None of them have publicly disclosed COVID-19 infections.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi this week tested positive for COVID-19, although she was not at the dinner. She did, however, attend an event with Biden Thursday at which she did not wear a mask.
The White House said Biden tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday, part of his routine protocol.