September 1, 2020 -- Dozens of Secret Service agents have gotten sick or been sidelined in the past two months after coming into contact with the public during in-person appearances, according to The Washington Post.
Multiple agents were instructed to self-quarantine after a recent campaign rally, and several have tested positive and reported coronavirus symptoms after events, the newspaper reported.
“Never before has the Secret Service run up against a president so intent on putting himself first regardless of the costs, including to those around him,” said Ned Price, a national security specialist and former CIA analyst.
Agents and officers have privately complained about the risks they face on the road, the newspaper reported. After two agents experienced COVID-19 symptoms in August, other agents were warned not to share information about their colleagues’ illnesses.
During President Donald Trump’s visit to Tampa on July 31, one agent tested positive for COVID-19. Five agents who were on-site before Air Force One landed were replaced with others out of precaution. The five agents worked closely with the one who tested positive and were presumed to be positive, the newspaper reported.
After Trump hosted a campaign rally earlier in June in Tulsa, Okla., dozens of agents were ordered to self-quarantine after rallygoers congregated at the event without masks. Supervisors then scrambled to find enough people to travel with Vice President Mike Pence for a trip to Arizona, the newspaper reported.
Trump and Pence plan to continue in-person gatherings, and the Secret Service will continue to protect them at events. A statement issued by the White House said that before travel, the White House Operations staff works with White House doctors and the White House Military Office to limit coronavirus exposure.
The president “takes the health and safety of everyone traveling in support of himself and all White House operations very seriously, as well as those dedicated to covering him and this Administration,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, told the newspaper.
The Secret Service would not say how many agents have tested positive or have been quarantined. In recent weeks, the agency has increased testing and required employees who traveled to the Democratic or Republican conventions to be tested before and after the events.
“Precautions include, but are not limited to, maintaining appropriate social distancing, the provision and use of PPE, routine testing when appropriate, whether before, during, or after official travel,” Catherine Milhoan, the spokeswoman, told the newspaper.