Over 130 Secret Service officers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been told to isolate themselves after their travels with U.S. President Donald Trump during his election campaign sorties, the Washington Post first reported, Friday.
The outbreak, which has affected around 10% of the Secret Service's core team -- tasked with protecting the commander in chief and the White House -- appears to be the latest result of Trump's underestimation and refusal to adhere to basic health and safety protocols during the pandemic.
In August, the Secret Service also had to deal with 11 COVID-19 cases among personnel at its Maryland training facility, the New York Times reported.
Trump held a series of election rallies in the run-up to the November 3 polls. On November 2, he had a total of five, including in Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and two rallies in Wisconsin.
According to reports, the Secret Service assigned five different teams of 20 agents to each one, where they conducted a rigid screening process on spectators and secured the perimeter around Trump's events.
The Secret Service has been worrying for months about how the president's negligent attitude toward the highly contagious disease may be endangering their health and those of their families who are needlessly at risk.
According to Secret Service spokesperson Julia McMurray, the Secret Service keeps "well-established protocols that include testing, conducting contact tracing in relation to confirmed and suspected exposure, and immediately isolating any employee who tests positive for COVID-19," Forbes quoted her as saying.
The Secret Service is also evaluating whether any of the infections trace back to the White House, where many Secret Service officers report for work every day.
The examination coincided with a rising number of key Trump campaign personnel and White House officials getting sick in the midst of campaign sorties, where many of the people who attended were not wear any face coverings.
Trump top aide Hope Hicks and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel were the first in the president's inner circle to be infected with the virus in the early fall.
Soon after Hicks' diagnosis was disclosed, it was confirmed that Trump, her wife Melania, and their son Barron had been infected as well. Dozens of White House staffers and family members have also caught the virus in recent weeks.
According to Johns Hopkins University, almost 10.6 million people in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19, while the nation's fatality numbers near the 243,000 mark.