More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, reports the Washington Post. The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be linked to a series of campaign rallies that President Donald Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election. The outbreak comes as coronavirus cases have been rapidly rising across the nation, with more than 152,000 new cases reported Thursday.
The virus is having a dramatic impact on the Secret Service’s presidential security unit as growing numbers of prominent Trump campaign allies and White House officials have fallen ill in the wake of campaign events, where many attendees did not wear masks. Among those infected are White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and political advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie. Trump went on a travel blitz in the final stretch of the campaign, making five campaign stops on each of the last two days. On Nov. 2, Trump’s campaign schedule required five separate groups of Secret Service officers — each numbering 20 to several dozen — to travel to Fayetteville, N.C.; Scranton, Pa.; Traverse City, Mi.; and Kenosha and Grand Rapids, Wis; to screen spectators and secure the perimeter around the president’s events. President-elect Joe Biden made two campaign stops that day that also required Secret Service protection, but in smaller numbers. The agency is examining whether some the current infections are not travel-related, but instead trace back to the site where many Secret Service officers report for duty each day: the White House.