At least 11 officers from a Maryland training facility tested positive in August.
In August, the United States Secret Service suffered a coronavirus outbreak at its training facility in Maryland. This happened weeks before Donald Trump was infected and announced that he has the virus, which shows the increase in infections in the agency responsible for protecting the president.
At least 11 employees of the center tested positive with the virus even though the agency had shut it down for several months this year. According to officials, this was to enforce procedures to mitigate transmission.
Some of the staff are believed to have contracted Covid-19 during training exercises and in a graduation celebration inside a nearby hotel where they did not practice social distancing.
The agency declined to discuss the details of the outbreak, but released a statement saying it had “taken important precautions at its training center to protect the health and well-being of its students and training personnel.”
There is no indication that this outbreak has caused infections between agents and officers who directly protect the president.
Details about the outbreak were discovered by the Government Oversight Project, an independent monitoring group in Washington.
The organization brought that information to The New York Times, which confirmed the details with informed sources on the matter. The people spoke on the condition that they remain anonymous because they did not want to be identified discussing sensitive issues.
The announcement earlier Friday that the president and first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for coronavirus gave the outbreak new relevance. Hours earlier, the White House confirmed that Hope Hicks, a close adviser to Trump, was also infected.
Speaking on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Thursday night, the president blamed military and police personnel for the Hicks exposition.
“It’s very, very difficult when you are with people from the Army or law enforcement and they come up to you and want to hug you and kiss you because we’ve really done a good job for them,” Trump said. “You get closer, and things happen,” he completed.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have struggled to protect their officers, who, by the nature of their work, come into direct contact with the people.
That task has been even more challenging for the Secret Service, an agency that for a long time has not been sufficiently staffed, given that its agents and officers who have been forced to continue traveling during the presidential campaign.
The virus has already affected the operations of the service. At least two Secret Service members who were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to help prepare for Trump’s campaign rally in June tested positive.
The following month, Vice President Mike Pence changed his travel plans in Arizona after he various agents will test positive or show symptoms of the virus.
The Secret Service trains its officers and agents on a large campus in Laurel, Maryland. The center has mock versions of Air Force One, Marine One, the president’s helicopter, and the White House grounds.
There is a large parking lot where the agents learn to drive the huge armored limo that the president is riding in, known as “the Beast.” A nearby garage houses many of the older limos the agency has used in decades.