Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tests positive for Covid-19

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, becoming the latest prominent member of President Donald Trump’s administration to contract the coronavirus.

“Secretary Bernhardt did test positive for COVID-19 today. He is currently asymptomatic and will continue to work on behalf of the American people while in quarantine,” said Nicholas Goodwin, a spokesman for the Interior Department, in an email to CNN. Bernhardt’s positive test was first reported by The Washington Post.

Bernhardt is the latest member of the President’s Cabinet to test positive for the virus, joining Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who was hospitalized last month. The interior secretary was not present at a Cabinet meeting with Trump on Wednesday.

Many other top members of Trump’s inner circle have tested positive for Covid-19, including his chief of staff, campaign manager, several top campaign aides, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and several top White House aides. The President, the first lady and two of his sons also tested positive in recent months.

The news comes on the same day that the State Department announced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is quarantining after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive. Pompeo had tested negative but is following US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Bernhardt’s infection also comes as coronavirus cases continue to hit record levels. As of 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, more than 242,000 new coronavirus cases had been reported — a new single-day record, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

More than 3,500 people died of Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins, marking another record.

Bernhardt was confirmed to his post in April 2019 by a Senate vote of 56-41, taking over the role from Ryan Zinke, Trump’s first interior secretary. Zinke resigned at the end of 2018 under the cloud of multiple ethics investigations, and Bernhardt had run the department in an acting capacity before being confirmed.

The Interior Department is one of the largest federal agencies in the government, with an annual budget of more than $22 billion and over 700,000 employees. The department manages 20% of the country’s land, including all national parks. It also sets critical policies that manage waterways, wildlife and energy resources throughout the country.

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