DC’s Gridiron COVID outbreak tally hits 72 as cases tick up nationwide

US President Joe Biden (C) signs the Postal Service Reform Act into law during an event with (L-R) Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and retired letter carrier Annette Taylor and others in the State Dining Room at the White House on April 6, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / US President Joe Biden (C) signs the Postal Service Reform Act into law during an event with (L-R) Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and retired letter carrier Annette Taylor and others in the State Dining Room at the White House on April 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Chip Somodevilla )

At least 72 of the over 600 people who attended the mostly maskless Gridiron dinner—an exclusive annual event frequented by high-profile Washington, DC, elites—have since tested positive for COVID-19. The dinner took place on April 2.

The growing tally may herald a nationwide rise in infections from the BA.2 omicron subvariant amid relaxed health measures. BA.2 is now the dominant variant circulating in the US and is more transmissible than the initial ultra-transmissible omicron subvariant, BA.1.

So far, over 20 states and Washington, DC, are reporting upticks in cases over the past two weeks, and nearly ten states are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, according to data tracking by The New York Times. Over half of the country’s wastewater sites monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 levels have also detected rises in the past two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The monitoring is intended to act as an early warning signal for case surges.

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