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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Member of health secretary's security detail tests positive for coronavirus

A member of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's security detail this week tested positive for coronavirus, according to two people with knowledge of the diagnosis.

Azar, who is typically flanked by a security detail in his role as a member of President Donald Trump's cabinet, had to undergo testing for Covid-19 as a result of the security agent's positive diagnosis, one person said. HHS has taken other steps to prevent the spread of the virus, such as additional cleaning in the headquarters.

It is the first known instance of a staffer with regular proximity to the health secretary testing positive for coronavirus.

Azar has frequently met with Trump and joined him on Thursday for a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the president unveiled new health care executive orders.

Spokespeople for the health department said they could not comment on whether any members of Azar's security detail had tested positive for coronavirus but stressed that Azar and staff close to the secretary have taken appropriate precautions.

"Secretary Azar practices social distancing guidelines as recommended by the CDC and wears a cloth face mask in any setting where social distancing isn’t possible," said a spokesperson for Azar. "Furthermore, he is tested regularly for COVID-19 before attending meetings at the White House and the results of all tests have been negative.”

"The health and safety of our agents and the people they protect is of utmost importance," added Tesia Williams, a spokesperson for the inspector general, which oversees the secretary's security detail. "To that end, our agents follow the recommended guidelines to limit the transmission of the virus."

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