Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday for President Donald Trump’s rally were told to self-quarantine on their return.
Staff who were on-site at last weekend’s rally received the quarantine order after two of their colleagues tested positive for coronavirus, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
According to the Post, the two Secret Service agents who tested positive did not attend the rally but had been at a Friday planning meeting with other agents.
Those agents continued to work at the rally even though they may have been exposed.
It emerged Wednesday that dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday for President Donald Trump’s rally were told to self-quarantine
The Washington Post reports that agents working at the rally had attended a Friday planning meeting with two other agents who tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday
‘No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials,’ campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh had claimed Saturday.
Yet, the Secret Service warned all employees who worked in Tulsa to isolate after they returned from the weekend trip.
The Post reports that the Secret Service’s field office in Tulsa established testing for local staffers on Tuesday to determine if they had contracted coronavirus while working on the rally.
The two secret service staff identified as having coronavirus were among six who tested positive just hours before the rally was set to begin.
Two more staff members tested positive once they returned to the White House Sunday.
According to CNN, the positive cases from Tulsa caused the Secret Service to decide to test agents involved with presidential trips for the next couple of weeks.
It’s reported that an email was sent out to agents Wednesday telling them they must now be tested 24 to 48 hours before a presidential trip.
The mandatory testing will remain in place until July 4.
‘We want to make sure that we have a healthy workforce and that we are protecting our people,’ an official told CNN. ‘This is good common sense.’
‘The U.S. Secret Service remains prepared and staffed to fulfill all of the various duties as required,’ Secret Service spokeswoman Catherine Milhoan said in a statement to the Post after news of the mass quarantine emerged.
‘To protect the privacy of our employees’ 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,’ she added.
US President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa on Saturday. Secret Service staff who worked at the event have now been told to quarantine
‘The President takes the health and safety of everyone traveling in support of himself and all White House operations very seriously,’ added White House spokesman Judd Deere.
‘When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.’
Yet former agents told the Post that the positive tests in Tulsa showed the extent to which those working to protect the president are being placed at risk of infection.
Trump had hoped that the Tulsa rally in loyal Oklahoma would work to reignite his campaign as he suffers badly in the polls because of criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests.
Yet the rally was marred in controversy for the off.
It was first rescheduled from Friday to Saturday after outrage that it would clash with Juneteenth celebrations.
United States Secret Service snipers are seen positioning on a rooftop prior to a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday
The Trump campaign was also forced to fight off lawsuits calling for it to be called off or for social distancing and masks to be mandatory because of fears over the spread of coronavirus.
In the end, only 6,200 people attended Saturday’s rally causing embarrassment for the Trump campaign.
With attendees not required to wear face masks or practice social distancing, they were asked to sign a waiver agreeing not to sue the campaign if they contracted coronavirus, acknowledging the ‘inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present’.
‘By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury,’ read the disclaimer to which attendees agreed.
Attendees were not the only ones maskless with several administration officials not wearing one.
Concerns over the effect the rally would have on coronavirus cases numbers in Oklahoma were not helped after it emerged that Trump staffers were testing positive just hours before supporters were to fill the BOK Center.
Case of coronavirus in Tulsa have been on the rise even before Trump’s rally and it is not yet certain what effect the event may have had on infection rates in the city or in the state.
Bruce Dart, the director of Tulsa’s Health Department, said in a press conference Wednesday that there were 259 new confirmed cases that day, a record for the county.
He added that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had already risen 92 percent in the week leading up to the Trump rally and hospitalizations rose 133 percent among people ages 18 to 35.
He could not say if other cases linked to the rally had yet been confirmed but the Tulsa Health Department is encouraging those who attended, or went to the protests that day, to get tested.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, a Republican continued to downplay the potential effect the rally could have, stating on Wednesday that the current spike was not yet linked.
‘It’s not from people going to protests or to rallies, it’s from people going to weddings and funerals and family gatherings and bars and other things like that, that are causing this uptick,’ Bynum said.
He added that the city officials are discussing imposing new restrictions on gatherings and rules about wearing masks as cases in the city continue to increase.
‘We’re finding that the reality’s actually worse than what the models were showing us could possibly happen,’ he said.