A senior Trump administration official has tested positive for coronavirus after a trip to Europe, raising concerns among government employees about the virus’s transmission.
Peter Berkowitz, the State Department’s director of policy planning, met with officials from 10 Downing Street and the Foreign Office in London. Earlier this month, he also held meetings in Paris and Budapest, with Hungarian Secretary of State Peter Sztray and Deputy Secretary of State Frank Danks.
The diagnosis was previously reported by the Washington Post, and an official told the paper that Berkowitz follows guidelines for wearing a mask and social distance.
The State Department denied that Berkowitz follows health guidelines.
“Throughout all of Berkowitz’s engagements abroad, he consistently adhered to the mask-wearing protocol outlined by his counterparts from the host government. “We take the threat posed by COVID-19 very seriously, and take every precaution to protect the safety of every member of our team when we engage diplomatically in this unprecedented time,” said Secretary of State Pompey Hill.
“We’re closely monitoring daily COVID-19 developments, and we continue to apply the best science and current public health recommendations to support the entire team as we continue to achieve results on behalf of the American people.”
Administration officials were found to be in contact with government officials in the three countries Berkowitz visited, and an official told the Post that there were no reported cases in Hungary related to travel.
News of the diagnosis came as both Europe and Europe are scrambling for new outbreaks of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions. Among the most high-profile outbreaks was last week’s news that several members of Vice President Pence’s staff tested positive for coronavirus, while more than 1.3 million new cases were reported in Europe last week.