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Senior State Department official tested positive for Covid-19 after Europe trip, official says

Posted October 27, 2020 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A senior Trump administration official recently tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a diplomatic trip to Europe, according to a State Department official familiar with the matter.

Peter Berkowitz, the director of policy planning at the State Department, tested positive for the virus after the recent trip to France, the United Kingdom and Hungary, the official said.

He tested negative before the trip and tested positive after he returned. It's unclear exactly when he contracted the virus, the official said. Berkowitz and the person who traveled with him from the State Department have not gone into the department since returning from the trip, the official said.

The Washington Post was first to report that Berkowitz contracted the virus.

There were concerns about the purpose of Berkowitz's visit, given the pandemic, before he departed, the official said. There were also complaints from European officials about Berkowitz not following Covid-19 protocol the entire time, the official added.

A State Department spokesperson pushed back on those allegations.

"During all of Director Berkowitz's engagements abroad, he consistently followed the mask-wearing protocol demonstrated by his counterparts from the host government. As Secretary (Mike) Pompeo has said, we take the threat posed by Covid-19 very seriously, and extend every precaution to protect each member of our team as we carry out our diplomatic engagement during these unprecedented times," the State Department spokesperson said.

"We are closely monitoring daily Covid-19 developments, and continue to apply the best science and the current public health recommendations to support the entire team as we continue to achieve results on behalf of the American people."

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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