Correspondents Dinner attendees test positive for COVID-19

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

Multiple attendees of the White House Correspondents Dinner held Saturday, April 30, 2022, have started testing positive for COVID-19, though it’s tough to come by exact statistics or where the individuals may have contracted the virus.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who notably shook hands with President Joe Biden and sat next to Kim Kardashian, reportedly tested positive Monday, May 2, 2022. He reportedly is remaining isolated while contact tracing is conducted.

Cases have reportedly hit staffers from all major networks plus several digital and print publications who attended the event, though there is no definitive tally of how many tested positive or how many cases can be tied to the event. There is also no public way to track symptom severity or medical treatments sought from those who test positive.

All attendees at the dinner were required to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test from the same day.

A negative COVID-19 test does not guarantee a person is not infected with the virus — it only indicates that the test was unable to detect any traces of the virus in the sample provided.

It’s also possible that a person was infected prior to the event, exhibited no symptoms, tested negative prior to attending and still spread the illness, though there is evidence that vaccinated, asymptomatic cases can be less transmissible.

Masks were not required at the event and only a few in attendance opted to wear one, according to reports. There was also a meal and beverages served during the course of the evening, which likely would have required the removal of a face mask if an attendee wished to partake.

Though transmission is possible even during short encounters, Karl was only in close proximity to Biden briefly so it may not have been considered close contact under current guidelines. Biden is also reportedly tested numerous times per day and so far the White House has not confirmed any positive tests from him.

The dinner was being held even as COVID-19 cases were popping up among the almost entirely vaccinated White House staff, though none of them have reported serious symptoms, required hospitalization or died from their infections. A highly contagious omicron subvariant, labeled BA.2, has been hitting much of the world hard, though it’s not immediately clear what variants are being reported from the dinner.

Some right-wing media has been quick to jump on the apparent spike in cases stemming from the dinner as “proof” that vaccinations don’t work.

Like many medical treatments, COVID-19 vaccines do not guarantee that someone will not contract an illness or disease, but given that there have been no reports of hospitalizations or deaths stemming from the event, it appears they have largely done their job.

Of course, these initial cases are popping up only days after the event concluded and COVID-19 can have an extended incubation period, so it’s possible more cases, including serious ones, may pop up over the next week or so.

Large indoor events such as the White House Correspondents Dinner have slowly been resuming. Across the country, some such events required proof of vaccination to attend and others have not.

Promising data had also been showing a decline in cases earlier in the spring. However, more recent numbers are showing cases are heading back up, though infections appear to be causing fewer deaths, likely largely due to immunity from vaccinations, boosters or previous cases.

Leading experts still agree that vaccinations and boosters are more reliable than a prior infection — and at least one high profile case of someone catching the disease on purpose in an attempt to acquire immunity resulted in a death — and even though who have had the illness are still generally advised to get the shots.

Coronavirus vaccines and boosters are highly recommended by multiple public health officials and experts. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have undergone extensive testing and monitoring to ensure their safety. Scientific research has shown the vaccines and boosters to be very safe and highly effective in decreasing the likelihood of contracting the illness and, if one does become sick, symptoms are less severe and less likely to lead to hospitalization or death. For more information about COVID-19 and coronavirus, visit the CDC website. You can locate a free vaccination site or clinic near you at Vaccines.gov. As with any medical decision, you should always discuss your options with your doctor.