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Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott tests positive for COVID-19

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has tested positive for the coronavirus, his staff said Monday.

The mayor, who was vaccinated against COVID-19 in March, tested positive for the virus during a routine test Monday morning, city officials said. The mayor was tested a second time and received a repeat positive test.

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Scott, 37, is currently isolating in his Northeast Baltimore home and working remotely.

Scott is tested for the coronavirus two to three times per week, depending on his public schedule, his spokesman Cal Harris said. The mayor was last tested on Friday and received a negative result.

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Scott is not making any public appearances and had no press conferences scheduled this week. Harris said Scott has no symptoms and “feels fine.”

The mayor has been prominent in taking steps to protect city residents during the pandemic, frequently going beyond states mandates for such things as masking requirements. The city currently has an indoor mask requirement for public spaces, while the state does not, for example.

Scott appeared at numerous public events over the weekend including the Parity Homes groundbreaking and block party on Saturday and the Parade of Latino Nations in East Baltimore on Sunday.

The mayor’s staff who attended the events are being tested, Harris said, and the administration is working with the city’s contact tracing team to locate others who may have been exposed, he said.

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Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott walks in the Fiesta Baltimore parade. The festival celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with food, art, music and a parade of different heritages from Highlandtown to Patterson Park. The Oct. 3, 2021 event was sponsored by Nuestras Raices, Inc.
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott walks in the Fiesta Baltimore parade. The festival celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with food, art, music and a parade of different heritages from Highlandtown to Patterson Park. The Oct. 3, 2021 event was sponsored by Nuestras Raices, Inc. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Angelo Solera, founder and executive director of Nuestras Raíces Inc., which held the parade and Fiesta Baltimore festival, said he was notified Monday evening by city officials about the mayor’s positive test. So far, no instructions have been issued for people who were in contact with the mayor, he said.

All of the Nuestras Raíces board members, some of whom interacted Sunday with Scott, are fully vaccinated, Solera said.

The event attracted an estimated 10,000 people to Patterson Park throughout the day. A vaccination clinic there inoculated about 100 people, Solera added. Organizers held the event as a car caravan in 2020 due to the pandemic, but resumed a more traditional format this year.

“We felt that people using masks and being vaccinated and being an outside event it was a risk, but again, we take a risk every single day, so that’s what happens I guess,” he said.

At least four members of Baltimore City Council attended the Sunday parade with the mayor and appeared arm-in-arm in photos with him. Councilwoman Odette Ramos said she immediately began isolating when she got word of the mayor’s positive test result Monday. She plans to get tested Tuesday.

“It could have been from anywhere that he got exposed,” Ramos said. “We’re taking a lot of caution. I’m fully vaccinated. My husband is fully vaccinated. We’re confident.”

Ramos said she planned to attend Monday evening’s council meeting remotely.

Others council members including Mark Conway, Zeke Cohen and Council President Nick Mosby appeared at the parade or in photos with the mayor Sunday.

Conway will be getting tested and following all guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spokesman David Pontious said. Conway has been vaccinated.

Cohen tweeted Monday to say he tested negative after hearing of the mayor’s result, but he plans to retest in several days. He wished Scott a quick recovery.

“If you are not already, please get vaccinated,” Cohen wrote on Twitter. “The odds of getting extremely ill or dying are dramatically decreased for those of us who have taken the vaccine.”

Mosby, who posed for pictures with Scott Sunday, said via his spokeswoman that he is following CDC guidance and takes the risk of the virus seriously.

“He is vaccinated and encourages all residents to get their vaccinations so we can move past this pandemic,” spokeswoman Yvonne Wenger said.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott gets a Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccination Wednesday outside BCCC from Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott gets a Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccination Wednesday outside BCCC from Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa. (Jerry Jackson)

Scott received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in mid-March during a press conference at Baltimore City Community College where the city established a vaccine clinic for city employees.

Gigi Gronvall, an immunologist and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said rapid tests like the ones Scott took Monday are “very good” at identifying people who are currently infectious. It’s possible Scott might have tested positive on Friday with a more sensitive test, but that doesn’t mean he was an infectious risk, she said.

Booster shots have not yet been recommended for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but a U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee will meet this month to discuss boosters for the vaccine as well as possible mix and match solutions in which recipients receive a vaccine from a different manufacturer.

Harris, Scott’s spokesman, said the mayor’s positive test result “serves as another reminder of the vast challenges faced by the ongoing global pandemic.”

“Despite being vaccinated and following Baltimore City’s health protocols, breakthrough infections are a real threat,” he said in a statement. “This could have been a different situation if Mayor Scott were not vaccinated, which is why he continues to work closely with [Health] Commissioner [Letitia] Dzirasa to support ongoing vaccination efforts across Baltimore.”

Baltimore Sun staff writers Meredith Cohn and Christine Condon contributed to this report.

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