Politics

Close to 900 secret service agents contracted COVID-19 under Trump, watchdog group reportedly found

A Washington-based watchdog group has reported that almost nine hundred secret service members tested positive with COVID-19, drawing disapproval from Trump critics.

881 service members were diagnosed with COVID-19 out of the 7,576 total agency employees, making the rate of infection within the service roughly 11.7% (AP News). This rate is slightly higher than the 10% infection rate in the general population in the U.S, as reported by the CDC. The positive cases were tallied between March 2020 and March 2021, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. The report came earlier this week after the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics requested the data from the agency.

The names and personal details of the diagnosed special agents have been withheld to respect their privacy. The Secret Service spokeswoman, Justine Whelan, made a statement saying that “the health and welfare of its dedicated workforce is a top priority for the Secret Service. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, the watchdog group that obtained the report, previously sued Donald Trump on his first day in office. They claim to use “aggressive legal actions, in-depth investigations, and innovative polity and reform work” (CREW).

The group was able to request the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. This act, also known as FOIA, was passed in 1967 and it ‘has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency’ (FOIA). Any federal agency is required to disclose any information requested of them, with some privacy and security exceptions.

Opponents of former president Donald Trump were critical of his decision to continue campaign rallies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Secret service is needed whenever a rally is held and critics argue he put the service member in unnecessary danger. While the secret service were called on to work during these rallies, Justine Whelan reiterated the priority on safety and said that agents were tested early and frequently, with over 25,000 tests being administered.

ARTICLE: ABBY RANCOUR
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEWS TRIBUNE

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