Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas Tests Positive for COVID

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, May 13, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via Reuters)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive for COVID Tuesday, despite being fully vaccinated.

His case has so far caused only mild symptoms, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson. His office is now trying to determine who he may have exposed the pathogen to in recent interactions.

“Mayorkas tested positive this morning for the COVID-19 virus after taking a test as part of routine pre-travel protocols,” spokesperson Marsha Espinosa tweeted Tuesday. “Secretary Mayorkas is experiencing only mild congestion; he is fully vaccinated and will isolate and work at home per CDC protocols and medical advice. Contact tracing is underway.”

No other cabinet appointees in the Biden administration have contracted the virus yet. Earlier this month, Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh tested positive for COVID. In August, Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott tested positive.

Mayorkas’s diagnosis comes amid a rise in breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals. These cases are rare, however, and don’t often result in serious health complications from COVID that require hospitalization or end in death. The vaccine still largely protects against the virus and its variants, including the highly transmissible Delta.

In August, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham announced a breakthrough infection of COVID but credited the vaccine with preventing a more severe case of the illness.

“A vaccine breakthrough infection happens when a fully vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19. People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others,” a CDC notice from September notes.

People who are not vaccinated against the virus are 11.3 times as likely to die from COVID than those who are, CDC data released in August indicates.

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