News and Commentary

CPAC Confirms Attendee At Conservative Conference Where Trump Spoke Has Coronavirus
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. At a White House press conference on Saturday, Trump said he was confident in the U.S. stock market, after a week that saw the biggest loss in the S&P 500 index since 2008. Photographer:
Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The American Conservative Union (ACU), which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., confirmed on Saturday that one of this year’s attendees has tested positive for coronavirus.

“The exposure occurred previous to the conference,” the ACU said in an email to attendees and participants. The attendee was tested in New Jersey and the positive diagnosis was confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ACU said.

Both President Trump and Vice President Pence attended this year’s event.

But the ACU said “this attendee had no contact with the President or the Vice President and never attends the events in the main hall,” where both spoke.

The ACU sought to allay concerns on Saturday.

“ACU has been in contact with the Health Department of the State of Maryland, and we will explicitly follow the guidance from government health experts,” the email read.

“The health and safety of our attendees and participants is our top priority. Any attendee who has questions can contact ACU or the Department of Health for the State of Maryland.”

CPAC was held Feb. 26-29 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Fort Washington, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.

“Our children, spouses, extended family, and friends attended CPAC. During this time, we need to remain calm, listen to our health care professionals and support each other. We send this message in that spirit,” the ACU said.

The CPAC news came after reports that two people who attended another Washington, D.C. conference – where Vice President Mike Pence delivered a speech – have tested positive for coronavirus.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) announced that two people from New York who attended the conference this week have confirmed cases of the contagious disease.

“We have confirmed that at least two Policy Conference attendees from New York have tested positive for the Coronavirus,” AIPAC told conference attendees and participants in an email on Friday.

“We have continued to remain in constant communication with the Westchester County Health Department and the DC Health Department which is coordinating with the New York Health Department, and national health authorities,” the email said, according to Biz Pac Review.

More than 18,000 people, along with many congressional lawmakers, attend the conference each year, its website says. This year, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as well as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) attended. Also on hand were former 2020 Democratic candidates Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Pence, who has been tapped by President Donald Trump to head up the administration’s response to the virus, said during a Friday briefing that he hadn’t heard that people at the conference had tested positive.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it, in the midst of a busy day,” Pence said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also said during the press conference that he had not heard the news.

“If you have someone who was here, the risk of there being a major outbreak obviously, which everybody thinks about, but what will happen is that those individuals that were infected will have contact tracing and that’s the ‘public health weapon,’ if you want to call it, that we have,” he said.

The D.C. Department of Health said in a statement Friday that “there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time.”