WASHINGTON: More than 130 secret service officers who help protect the White House and US president have been asked to isolate or quarantine because they have been tested positive for coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, Washington Post reported citing three people familiar with the agency staffing.
The spread of coronavirus in the secret service officers is believed to partly linked with Donald Trump’s camapign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the November 3 election, according to the people who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.
The Washington Post reported that 10 per cent of the agency’s core security team has been sidelined due to coronavirus.
In all, roughly 300 secret service officers and agents have had to isolote or quarantine since March beacuse they were infected or exposed colleagues, according to two people with knowledgde of the figure.
The United States is the worst affected country in the world, with more than 177,000 new cases reported on Friday.
Recently, the growing numbers of prominent Donald Trump campaign allies and White House officials have fallen ill in the wake of campaign events.
Among those who are infected are White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and outside political advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.
In addition, at least eight staffers at the Republican National Committee, including Chief of Staff Richard Walters, have the virus, according to officials at the organisation. Some of those infected are in field offices across the country, including Pennsylvania, where some believe they were exposed in large staff gatherings, an official said.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said the administration takes “every case seriously.” He referred questions about the Secret Service outbreak to agency officials. A spokeswoman for the Secret Service declined to comment on the number of officers who have been forced to isolate or quarantine.
In a statement, the Secret Service said that “the health and safety of our workforce is paramount.”
“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. (ANI)