Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told staffers at the agency Thursday that his wife, Jennifer, tested positive for COVID-19, according to Politico.

“Today, my family learned that my wife Jennifer has tested positive for COVID-19,” Azar wrote in an email to staff obtained by the publication. “I will be carrying out the duties of my office while strictly adhering to CDC guidelines for essential workers, continuing to practice social distancing, wearing a mask and monitoring for any symptoms.”

Azar added he had been tested “every day” and would continue to do so “until my exposure period has concluded.”

His wife’s infection is the latest to hit Washington’s inner circle. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tested positive for the coronavirus this week, as did several members of Congress (at least 44 Capitol Hill lawmakers have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic).

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said this week that he would quarantine after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus.

Infection rates have continued to surge around the nation, breaking record after record just as promising news about two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, arrives. More than 3,600 people in the U.S. died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and more than 245,000 others tested positive that day, both records that reflect ongoing concerns as the nation prepares for the winter holidays.

In California, health officials were warning of rapidly depleting intensive care unit beds, saying Thursday just 3% were available as of that morning.

At the same time, doses of Pfizer’s vaccine have been administered this week to thousands of health care workers and Americans in long-term care homes, a significant milestone in the fight against the virus. A second vaccine from Moderna has gained a key endorsement from a panel at the Food and Drug Administration, paving the way for its approval within days.


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