U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, though officials said Friday that he is not displaying any symptoms.
In a press release, the court said that Kavanaugh has been fully vaccinated against the virus since January. He and the eight other justices all underwent a routine COVID-19 test this week in advance of the ceremonial investiture for Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday.
The high court also noted that Justice Kavanaugh’s wife and daughters have also been fully vaccinated for the virus; they tested negative on Thursday. Court officials said that Kavanaugh and his wife are not going to attend Barrett’s ceremony out of caution.
Kavanaugh’s positive test comes ahead of the new Supreme Court term set to begin on Monday. Justices will be returning to their courtroom to hear cases in person following an 18-month hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. Justices had been hearing oral arguments for cases via telephone.
The justices had a private conference on Monday, reports said, noting that Kavanaugh attended that meeting as he and his colleagues met to look over thousands of appeals that came in during the summer months when they were in recess. In addition, Kavanaugh participated in an annual three-mile charity run in Washington, D.C., that featured judges government workers, reporters, and elected officeholders.
While Kavanaugh is the latest high-profile figure who has been vaccinated for the virus to test positive, previous reports have noted that so-called “breakthrough” infections — that is, people actually coming down with COVID symptoms after being vaccinated — are on the rise as the delta variant spreads around the country.
Last month, Moderna announced that people who received the company’s vaccine last year are now twice as likely to experience a breakthrough infection than those who have gotten newer vaccines.
“The increased risk of breakthrough infections in…study participants who were vaccinated last year compared to more recently illustrates the impact of waning immunity and supports the need for a booster to maintain high levels of protection,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a press release. “We hope these findings are helpful as health authorities and regulators continue to assess strategies for ending this pandemic.”
Also in September, President Joe Biden announced that his administration would require businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate they get vaccinated or face fines.
“Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” Biden said.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot,” he added.
The rule is supposed to be issued via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but it’s not clear when it will be published.
Several Republican governors have vowed to fight the mandate in court.
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