US President Donald Trump’s blitz of campaign rallies leading up to the Nov. 3 election appear to have taken a toll on the US Secret Service, The Washington Post reported.
More than 130 US Secret Service agents tasked with protecting President Trump have recently been forced into quarantine because they either tested positive for Covid-19 or were in close contact with co-workers who did.
The troubling spread of the virus through Secret Service ranks is believed tied to Trump’s desperate attempt to gin up enthusiasm among his supporters, three sources familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.
The report also cites the sources as saying that about 10% of the agency’s primary security team has been “sidelined.”
Trump held 14 jam-packed rallies in seven states in just the last three days before the election.
As was customary through the 2020 campaign, few of Trump’s supporters wore masks or socially distanced during the rallies, putting themselves and the president’s accompanying Secret Service agents at serious risk of infection, The Washington Post reported.
Trump, who was hospitalized with Covid-19 last month, falsely insisted during the final stretch of the campaign that the virus was on the retreat and nothing to worry about.
“If you get it, you’re going to get better, and then you’re going to be immune, and it’s a whole thing and it goes away,” Trump said at a rally in Waterford Township, Mich., on Oct. 30, even though there’s no evidence Covid-19 patients develop immunity.
News of the Secret Service outbreak comes as the pandemic is resurging in catastrophic numbers across the country. The US death toll has surged above 240,000.
The virus has also crept into the upper echelons of the White House and the Trump campaign, with chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior campaign adviser Corey Lewandowksi and campaign lawyer David Bossie testing positive this week alone, The Washington Post reported.
Julia McMurray, a Secret Service spokeswoman, did not deny the report on dozens of agents coming down with Covid-19.
“For privacy and operational security reasons, the Secret Service is not releasing how many of its employees have tested positive for Covid-19, nor how many of its employees were, or currently are, quarantined,” McMurray said.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) squarely blamed Trump for the Secret Service outbreak.
“The Secret Service officers who put their lives on the line to protect our leaders are courageous professionals, but Donald Trump has shown callous indifference to their health and safety,” Beyer told The Washington Post.
“Trump’s total disregard for the lives of his protectors, supporters, and aides shows how dangerous his extreme selfishness has become.”
(Sources: New York Daily News, Washington Post, Voice of Ameria)