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An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

  • "The acting Deputy Administrator has been isolating since he began exhibiting symptoms late Monday, November 23, and will continue to until a retest is conclusive," spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said in a statement issued after being contacted by Axios.

Details: Barsa was planning to travel to Honduras this weekend after the country was ravaged by recent hurricanes. Administration officials say they expect that trip is now off.

  • Barsa's positive test results comes shortly after Donald Trump Jr. and senior White House aide Andrew Giuliani, among several others close to the president, also contracted the virus.

The backdrop: Barsa has come under fire in recent weeks after Axios obtained leaked audio with him making remarks some employees took as threatening about their future work prospects.

USAID is an independent government agency that works closely with the State Department. It is tasked with leading the government's international development and disaster assistance efforts.

This story has been updated with quotes from the USAID spokesperson, background about the agency and a restatement of Barsa's comments to his employees.

Go deeper

Biden appoints swath of acting agency leaders

Joe Biden in the White House on Jan. 20. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday appointed acting leaders to federal agencies to temporarily hold the posts until the Senate can confirm his nominees.

Why it matters: The impeachment trial for former President Trump will prevent the chamber from confirming Biden's nominees and may inhibit his efforts to heal the country and its economy.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."