Buttigieg tests positive for COVID after Michigan visit

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

U.S. Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms, he wrote Monday on Twitter. 

Buttigieg spoke at the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island last Wednesday and traveled Thursday to Saginaw for an announcement about rail investment. 

"I plan to work remotely while isolating according to CDC guidelines, and look forward to when I can safely return to the office and the road," he tweeted

Buttigieg was in close contact with several of Michigan's leading state and federal officials during the annual policy conference at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel, where masks were not required and sparsely used indoors.

It is unclear whether Buttigieg caught COVID from the conference, and a spokesperson for Buttigieg said department officials are not aware of anyone he came in close contact with testing positive for the virus.

The Detroit Regional Chamber said Monday that 15 of the conference's 1,347 attendees have tested positive for COVID in the days immediately following the event. Those 15 are experiencing mild or no symptoms, according to the chamber. Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test were required to attend the conference, and only 14 people used the test option, the chamber said.

Kerry Ott, a spokesperson for the LMAS District Health department encompassing Mackinac County, said Monday that Mackinac Island's wastewater tested "fairly high" for COVID during the most recent test right before Memorial Day weekend.

Buttigieg hosted a press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing, Michigan Transportation Director Paul Ajegba and others; was interviewed on stage by WDIV anchor Devin Scillian; and met privately with Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and likely other officials.

Whitmer took a rapid test Monday morning that came back negative, spokesman Bobby Leddy said, adding "she is fully up to date on her vaccinations, and is not currently experiencing any symptoms."

State Rep. Julie Brixie, D-Meridian Township, said Monday she tested positive for the virus Saturday after spending a few days last week at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

"I'm grateful to have protection from my vaccines because my symptoms do not require hospitalization," Brixie said. "And I am thankful for the antiviral medication that is helping me recover quickly."

On Thursday, Buttigieg headed to Saginaw, where he unveiled $368 million in funding for rail infrastructure and safety. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, appeared at the announcement with the transportation secretary. Kildee took an antigen test Monday morning and tested negative, spokeswoman Kelly Montgomery said. 

Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin