More than 130 Secret Service officers involved in White House security and protecting President Trump when he travels are under orders to isolate or quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus or having close contact with an infected co-worker, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The order to isolate or quarantine effectively benches roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team, according to the Post.
The outbreak may be linked to a flurry of campaign rallies that Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election when Trump made five campaign stops on each of the last two days at events where a majority of his supporters did not wear masks, three people familiar with agency staffing told the Post.
Secret service officers took on the role of screening attendees and securing the perimeter around those events.
The absence of the officers amid the outbreak shows just how coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the security unit surrounding Trump. The limited numbers of officers adds stress to remaining officers to make up for missing co-workers.
The report is the latest example of Trump’s cavalier attitude toward risking the health of those in his orbit. The President was widely criticized last month when he put agents at risk after insisting on taking a ride outside Walter Reed hospital accompanied by Secret Service to wave to supporters when he was fighting his own COVID-19 infection.
The news of the quarantined security officers follows another cluster of infections reported earlier this week that included, among others, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, outside political advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, as well as HUD Secretary Ben Carson and White House political director Brian Jack.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the administration takes “every case seriously,” referring questions about the Secret Service outbreak to agency officials.
But several staffers told the Post that they had concerns about returning to work at the White House amid news of the outbreak.
“I’m trying to work from home,” one senior administration official told the Post on Wednesday. “It’s not really safe to be in there right now.”