A number of Secret Service agents have been on lockdown in Arizona after experiencing coronavirus symptoms while preparing for a visit by Vice President Mike Pence. Two people familiar with the matter told CNN that at least eight agents have been left behind in The Grand Canyon State to allow them to properly quarantine.
One source said there's been "growing anger and frustration" among some in the Secret Service, believing they've been subject to "unnecessary trips and exposure" because of the travel schedules of both Pence and President Donald Trump. Another claimed that "even ardent Trump supporters are fed up, adding that they "signed up to take a bullet for him, we did not sign up to get sick for him for no good reason." Other agents have been required to quarantine following their contact with others who tested positive, which has put a strain on their ranks, particularly as Trump and Pence continue to schedule trips around the country. Each of these trips requires multiple agents, who also work in shifts to ensure their alertness.
A number of agents are currently in South Dakota, spending days preparing for Trump's much-debated visit to Mount Rushmore. Thursday morning, a group of approximately 20 agents conducted a walk-through of the event together, surveying seating at the top of the Mount Rushmore amphitheater, as well as the press area and the stage where the President will speak. Of the 20 agents, only two wore a mask, although every agent did have one on hours later while screening attendees.
Pence himself has also come under fire for the lack of a mask as recently as Sunday when he wasn't wearing one during a press conference in Dallas, Texas — which is currently one of the most hardest-hit states. Prior to the conference, the vice president posted a photo of himself on an airstrip without a mask and definitely not keeping a distance of six feet from others, none of whom were wearing a mask.
The press conference itself drew plenty of criticism, given the strangely positive assessment Dr. Deborah Birx gave of the Lone Star State, despite the fact that officials have begun to rollback its phased re-opening. "The concern that's been raised is [that] what is happening now is very different than what was happening in April and May, where you were having outbreaks that were quickly contained," said the member of Trump's coronavirus task force. Although she did concede that in the "last 15 or 16 days, it's taken on a very different aspect in Texas."