Yahoo News is reporting that 11 members of the United States Secret Service have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The information was in a Department of Homeland Security document obtained by Yahoo News. According to the document, there are 23 Secret Service members who have recovered from the virus and another 60 who are self-quarantining.
There is no indication from the document where the infected Secret Service members worked, if they were assigned to the presidential or vice-presidential detail, or even whether they worked in the White House.
Recently, close aides to the president and vice president have tested positive for the virus. The situation begs the question, just how safe is the president in his own house?
“To protect the privacy of our employee’s health information and for operational security, 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,” Justine Whelan, a Secret Service spokesperson, said.
Whelan says the agency is following CDC recommendations and has partnered with the White House medical staff to ensure the president’s safety.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, the Secret Service has been working with all of our public safety partners and the White House Medical Unit to ensure the safety and security of both our protected persons and our employees,” Whelan said. “The Secret Service continues to follow guidance issued by the CDC to ensure the health and welfare of our employees and those they come in contact with.”
But the Secret Service and the White House are not following CDC guidelines about social distancing and wearing a mask.
On Monday, Yahoo News reported that there are regularly held large events with unmasked attendees in close quarters at the White House — including inside the Oval Office, which is the president’s inner sanctum. Many Secret Service employees on the White House grounds are among those who are not wearing masks. The agency did not respond to questions about why its employees are not wearing masks or whether personal protective equipment is being provided to members of the Secret Service who request it. Pence and Trump have also regularly opted not to wear masks.
You have to think that the most tested individuals in America are Secret Service agents assigned to protect the president. There are also temperature checks for anyone who sees the president and almost certainly, the president himself.
Symptoms of COVID-19 take 2-14 days to appear so the system isn’t foolproof. But Trump may be increasing his risk because he refuses to wear a mask.
Trump has told advisers that he believes wearing one would “send the wrong message,” according to one administration and two campaign officials not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations. The president said doing so would make it seem like he is preoccupied with health instead of focused on reopening the nation’s economy — which his aides believe is the key to his reelection chances.
Moreover, Trump, who is known to be especially cognizant of his appearance on television, has also told confidants that he fears he would look ridiculous in a mask and the image would appear in negative ads.
Now that the virus is in the White House, we’ll see just how good Secret Service protocols are.
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