More than 130 U.S. Secret Service officers assigned to protect President Donald Trump have been sidelined by COVID-19, the Washington Post reported on Friday as the novel coronavirus outbreak spread at the White House.
A U.S. government source familiar with the situation confirmed that numerous Secret Service officers had gone into quarantine but did not provide a specific number. Not all those in quarantine had tested positive for COVID-19, the source said.
The Post did not say how many officers tested positive for the virus versus those who had to isolate because of close contact with an infected co-worker. It said about 10 per cent of the core security team had been sidelined.
Secret Service representatives declined to give a tally of officers affected. White House spokesman Judd Deere referred questions to the Secret Service, but told the Post separately that the administration took every case seriously.
OUTBREAK LINKED TO CAMPAIGN RALLIES
The outbreak, which the Post said was at least partly linked to a series of Trump rallies before the November 3 election, comes roughly a month after the president himself contracted COVID-19 and was flown to a U.S. military hospital for days of treatment.
COVID-19 has also infected a number of other top officials in the White House, top administration officials and Cabinet members and Trump campaign aides. None has died.
First lady Melania Trump, Trump’s youngest son Barron, top aide Hope Hicks, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany all previously tested positive.
Others to have contracted the virus include U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and, according to a source familiar with the matter, Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has repeatedly criticised the White House and the president over their handling of the pandemic, told reporters the latest outbreak was further proof of “Trump’s reckless campaign schedule”.