The spread of the Coronavirus – which marginalized nearly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team – is believed to be linked in part to President Trump’s campaign rallies in the weeks leading up to the November 3 election, according to people who, like others interviewed for this, The report, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.
In all, nearly 300 Secret Service officers and agents have had to be isolated or quarantined since March because they were infected or exposed to infected mates, according to two people familiar with the numbers.
The latest outbreak comes as coronavirus cases have risen rapidly across the country, with more than 177,000 new cases mentioned Friday.
The virus had a major impact on the Secret Service’s presidential security unit at the same time that an increasing number of prominent Trump campaign allies and White House officials fell ill in the wake of campaign events, with many of those in attendance not wearing masks.
In addition, at least eight employees of the Republican National Committee, including Chief of Staff Richard Walters, have contracted the virus, according to WHO officials. An official said that some of the injured are in field offices across the country, including Pennsylvania, where some believe they were exposed in large gatherings of employees.
White House spokesman Judd Deer said the administration takes “every issue very seriously.” I have forwarded questions about the Secret Service outbreak to agency officials. A spokeswoman for the Secret Service declined to comment on the number of officers who had been forced into isolation or quarantine.
“The health and safety of our workforce is of the utmost importance,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
The agency said: “We are constantly assessing the requirements for action during the epidemic and ensuring that we remain fully prepared and equipped to carry out our critical integrated preventive and investigative missions, none of which have deteriorated due to the epidemic.”
Trump went on a travel lightning trip in the final phase of the campaign, stopping five times each of the past two days. On November 2, Trump’s campaign schedule requires five separate groups of Secret Service officers – each ranging in number from 20 to dozens – to travel to Fayetteville, North Carolina; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Traverse City and Grand Rapids, Michigan; And Kenosha Weiss. To check the spectators and secure the perimeter of the President’s events. President-elect Joe Biden halted their campaign twice that day that also required Secret Service protection, but in smaller numbers.
A government official said the agency is also studying whether a portion of the current casualties are not travel-related, but instead returns to the location where many Secret Service officers serve every day: the White House.
White House employees largely avoid wearing masks, despite public health guidelines that help contain the spread of the virus, and some Secret Service officers on duty at the compound have also been seen without them.
Trump refused to wear masks at the White House, and some Secret Service personnel particularly complained to their colleagues that they had been instructed by presidential detail agents and White House employees not to wear masks in his presence, according to two people who heard the complaints. .
The Secret Service employs approximately 1,300 officers in its regular division of guarding the White House and the vice president’s residence. Officers are also the backbone of security for presidential out-of-town trips and other official events. Officers differ from agents, as most work in civilian clothes and provide close escort to the president, family members, and other senior officials.
Earlier this week, agency supervisors told other employees about the large number of officers who had contracted the virus and said there were expanded testing to help limit the spread, according to people familiar with the situation.
The number of officers withdrawn is creating a significant strain on the workforce, which is already overstretched and will force many officers to give up vacation days and work longer hours to compensate for absent co-workers. The Blue Ribbon Board of 2015 identified overburdened Secret Service officers as one of the major factors contributing to security breaches at the White House.
“The shooting down of more than 100 officers is a big problem,” said a former senior superintendent of the Secret Service. “This does not bode well for White House security.”
This isn’t the first time the Secret Service has been hit hard by Trump and Vice President Pence’s decisions to travel during the pandemic. this summer, Dozens of Secret Service agents fell ill or were sidelined They were forced into quarantine following the president’s massive indoor march into the stadium in Tulsa in June and the vice president’s subsequent trip to Arizona.
At the time, Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Millhwan said in a statement to the Washington Post that the agency “continues to systematically assess the unique requirements needed to operate in the ongoing pandemic environment.”
But Trump’s many private options put his protection team at increased risk, namely his choice to travel outside the state and hold large public events. The Secret Service agents and medical professionals were shocked Early last month when Trump – who at the time was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for coronavirus – insisted on making a ride outside the hospital to wave his supporters from inside a government sports car. He wore a cloth mask, but many feared that he would unnecessarily endanger Secret Service agents inside the car.
Derry defended the trip at the time, telling reporters, “Appropriate precautions have been taken in carrying out this movement to protect the president and everyone who supports it.” He said that the precautions included personal protective equipment, without going into details, and said that the trip “has been approved by the medical team as safe to take.”
While Many people are in Trump’s orbit They have contracted the virus this year, and the recent outbreak in the White House has been particularly widespread. Many patients have now attended last week’s campaign party in the East Room, or been exposed to someone who did.
Meadows was among those in the East Room of the White House when Trump made the remarks around 3 am Wednesday to a crowd of about 150 of his top aides, donors and allies, as well as family members. During the event, Meadows worked in the room on a large scale, without a mask, speaking to the dozens.
More than a dozen White House aides have tested positive for the virus in the past week, officials said, including a group of low-ranking aides and secretaries. The offices affected include political affairs, legislative affairs, and communications.
It was a positive diagnosis of the promoter I showed Last week, coupled with the fact that he urged employees not to disclose it. A person close to him said that the chief of staff is not expected to return to the office until next week.
People who attended a Wednesday night campaign party in the East Room who were around Meadows, Lewandowski and other now-ill staff say the White House has not contacted them.
Several employees said they are worried about going to work due to the outbreak. “I’m trying to work from home,” a senior administration official said on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s not really safe to be there now.”
Several aides said they were frustrated by the lack of transparency from their superiors, particularly Meadows, and that they had not notified more people of the diagnoses.
Julie Tate contributed to this report.