Even after being hospitalized for COVID-19, President Donald Trump and his senior staff didn’t appear to take concerns about spreading the virus seriously—continuing to campaign furiously while eschewing masks and hosting large indoor events. The possible fallout from those decisions: The Washington Post is now reporting that more than 130 Secret Service officers charged with protecting the White House and the president have either tested positive for the coronavirus or are quarantining because they came in close contact with an infected coworker.
With just about 1,300 officers in its Uniformed Division guarding the White House and the vice president’s residence, this means 10 percent of the Secret Service’s core staff—agents who must protect Trump during trips and other official events—have been depleted. The nation is also heading into a crucial inflection point: While coronavirus cases are surging nationwide to new peaks in many states, President-elect Joe Biden is now preparing a transition without the aid of the current administration.
The agency is investigating the source (or sources) of the outbreaks. From the Washington Post:
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, Mich.; 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 also examining whether some portion of the current infections are not travel-related, one government official said, but instead trace back to the site where many Secret Service officers report for duty each day: the White House.
White House staff largely eschew wearing masks, despite public health guidelines that they help contain the spread of the virus, and some Secret Service officers on duty at the complex have also been seen without them.
The problem, of course, hasn’t been limited to the Secret Service. In the past week alone, more than a dozen White House aides—from Trump’s chief of staff to low-level assistants and secretaries—have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Post reports.
Trump’s circle has been rife with coronavirus infections this year—at this point, it may be easier to name who hasn’t contracted it than who has. But the latest outbreak, believed to be related to a campaign party hosted in the White House’s East Room last week, has been especially devastating. Among the latest round of cases is Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Regardless of what you think of Trump and his senior advisors and supporters, the blatant dismissal of COVID guidelines in the White House is affecting people who have nothing to do with Trump’s politics, including cleaning and service staff. In a just world, they would receive the same level of care their bosses who cavalierly exposed them to the virus would receive—but that’s not this world, and that’s not this president.