Over 100 Secret Service agents assigned to White House, others infected with COVID-19
London, Nov. 14, 2020 (AltAfrica)-More than 100 U.S. Secret Service agents are either infected with the COVID-19 virus or been told to quarantine because of close contact with someone who has, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
The number included only those who are part of the service’s 1,600-member Uniformed Division, which generally has the most contact with the public as they perform screening at events and patrol the White House grounds.
The source declined to comment on the number of infections and quarantines within the corps of agents, including those in the Protective Division who maintain the closest contact with the president and other top White House officials.
The Washington Post first reported the infections and quarantines among secret service agents, indicating that the number was more than 130.
The reports come at the end of the campaign season, in which the Secret Service has provided security at a series of campaign rallies hosted by President Donald Trump and lower-profile events for President-elect Joe Biden.
The Secret Service, in a Friday statement, declined to address the specific number of employees who had been sidelined, citing “operational” concerns.
“The health and safety of our workforce is paramount for the Secret Service and, as such, we continuously assess the requirements necessary to operate during the pandemic and ensure we remain prepared and fully staffed to carry out our critical integrated protective and investigative missions, neither of which has been degraded by the pandemic,” the agency said.
The agency said it “successfully carried out its protective obligations associated with the presidential campaign’ while adhering to testing and contact tracing protocols when suspected cases arise
All service employees who were assigned to the campaigns are being tested, the source said, adding that staffing levels are high enough to account for illness and isolation requirements
Trump had 10 rallies during the two days before the election, speaking to large crowds – many of them maskless and packed close together – in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tested positive last week. Meadows was present with Trump when he visited his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., on Election Day and was seen not wearing a face mask. He was also in attendance at a White House gathering that evening and came into contact with Trump family members, according to reports.
News of the infections comes as coronavirus cases are surging across the nation and states are considering tougher measures to enforce social distancing.
Just a few weeks ago, Trump invited dozens of politicians and high-profile dignitaries to the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 26 to introduce Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
Many at the gathering did not wear masks, and social distancing was not apparent. Audience members sat in chairs packed next to each other, and some of them exchanged hugs.