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Visit by COVID-infected official closes Washington Monument

A man walks past the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument as sunrise approaches on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Washi...

A man walks past the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument as sunrise approaches on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Washi...

The Trump administration abruptly closed the Washington Monument on Friday over exposure concerns from an earlier visit by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who tested positive this week for the coronavirus.

Interior spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said “a couple” employees have quarantined since the visit, “resulting in a temporary workforce reduction at the monument and its temporary closure.”

Goodwin said in an email the Washington Monument, normally one of the capital's most visited sites, would reopen Monday, with tickets going on sale Sunday.

The closure comes after the Interior Department disclosed Wednesday, after an inquiry from The Washington Post, that Bernhardt had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bernhardt was quarantining and was currently without symptoms, Goodwin said in an email that day. Interior officials did not respond to questions Thursday and Friday about the Interior secretary's current condition. Nor have they said how Bernhardt may have been exposed.

The National Park Service has been requiring members of the public to wear face masks and take other COVID-19 precautions at the monument since at least Oct. 1. Goodwin said no park worker at the monument has tested positive for COVID-19 since then.

Goodwin did not immediately respond when asked if Bernhardt had been complying with the mask rule when he visited.

Bernhardt is one of numerous Trump administration staffers and official to test positive for the coronavirus. That includes President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized in October after contracting COVID-19.


Updated : 2021-01-24 02:52 GMT+08:00