2 more AIPAC attendees test positive for coronavirus, bringing total to 5
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2 more AIPAC attendees test positive for coronavirus, bringing total to 5

Cleveland-area man in his 50s employed by Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and lay leader at Toronto’s Beth Sholom Synagogue diagnosed after returning from DC

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2020 Conference, March 2, 2020 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Illustrative: US Vice President Mike Pence at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2020 Conference, March 2, 2020 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

At least five people have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from last week’s AIPAC policy conference, including attendees from Cleveland and Toronto.

The Cleveland-area man in his 50s is an employee of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland. He traveled to the conference on a bus with other members of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, the Federation said in a statement Monday to the Cleveland Jewish News.

Also Monday, the Beth Sholom Synagogue in Toronto, Canada, said that one of its lay leaders had tested positive. Canadian media reports said the man had traveled to AIPAC, although the statement did not confirm this.

AIPAC said Friday that two people from New York who attended the conference had tested positive. And on Saturday the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said a local resident had also tested positive after returning.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland said the man was quarantined and that the Jewish Education Center offices will be closed for two weeks as a precaution.

People who were on the bus with the man were urged to self-quarantine, as were students from the Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood who attended AIPAC and were in contact with the man.

In Toronto, the synagogue was closed for disinfecting and Purim festivities were canceled. A local lawmaker who attended AIPAC and was in contact with the man announced he was putting himself in self-quarantine as a precaution.

US health authorities said Saturday that they had not identified a risk to AIPAC conference attendees, after the pro-Israel lobby group said at least two people who attended its policy conference have tested positive for the coronavirus.

AIPAC sent out a statement from the DC Health Department, which read: “Based on our investigation thus far, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH), there is no identified risk to conference attendees at this time.”

The statement called for attendees to abide by public health guidelines and be wary of symptoms. The health department said it would work with AIPAC to keep attendees informed of any developments going forward.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2020 Conference, in Washington, March 2, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP)

AIPAC on Friday warned Congress, the Trump administration, activists and others about the virus infections, raising fears that politicians, including US Vice President Mike Pence, could have been exposed.

Israel, which has implemented strict quarantine rules for anyone entering the country and has previously ordered retroactive quarantines, has also not issued specific guidance for AIPAC conference attendees.

The annual conference, which ran from February 28 to March 2, drew 18,000 people to Washington, DC.

Asked about the disclosure at a White House briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said health officials will be interviewing the infected individuals to see whom they may have had contact with, and to try to determine who may have been exposed.

The conference routinely attracts Congress members and their staffers, as well as top administration officials, including this year Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Additionally, on the last day of the conference AIPAC activists visit virtually every congressional office to lobby.

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