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Denzel Washington bows out of Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony after COVID diagnosis

Fans of Denzel Washington were wondering why the two-time Oscar winner was a no-show at the White House Thursday, and as it turns out, it’s because he tested positive for COVID.

“He feels fine,” a rep for the 67-year-old actor tells People.

The actor was to be feted with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. This year’s fellow honorees also included gold medalist Simone Biles, who at 25 became the youngest recipient of the Medal of Freedom.

Somewhat ironically, considering Denzel’s absence: One of the other recipients was Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse in New York, who became the first person in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the White House, all 17 awardees “demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith.”

“They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”

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