Nearly 900 Secret Service Agents Tested Positive for COVID in the Year Since March 2020

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BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty From left: a Secret Service agent and Donald Trump

Nearly 900 Secret Service agents tested positive for COVID-19 in the first year since the pandemic began, according to government records made public on Tuesday.

Documents obtained by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) watchdog group show that 881 agents were infected by the virus between March 2020 and March 2021.

More than half of those agents, 477, worked in the special agent division that directly protects the president, vice president and their families, according to the Associated Press.

The documents obtained by CREW don't include the names or assignments of the agents who tested positive, so it's not known how their infections may link to specific incidents in the news.

However, former President Donald Trump was routinely criticized for ignoring pandemic safety precautions during his time in office, throwing large rallies across the country and hosting large gatherings indoors at the White House - all of which required Secret Service agents to follow his lead while protecting him.

The data released Tuesday includes the first month and a half of President Joe Biden's presidency as well.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service told PEOPLE in a statement that "maintaining the health and welfare of its dedicated workforce is a top priority" for the agency.

"The Secret Service's essential law enforcement mission required agency employees to remain in continuous contact with the public during the pandemic," the spokesperson added. "This included law enforcement operations at campaign events, during mass gatherings near the White House, and at multiple National Special Security Events-to include the Presidential Inauguration."

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Drew Angerer/Getty From left: Donald Trump and a Secret Service agent

After Trump, 75, was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, he decided to take a ride around the hospital in his presidential vehicle to see his supporters - with Secret Service agents having to join him in the car.

Some current and former agents blasted Trump's decision, which one attending physician at the hospital described as "insanity" at the time it happened.

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"He's not even pretending to care now," one agent told the Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"That should never have happened," an agent who worked on the Trump family's personal detail had told CNN. "The frustration with how we're treated when it comes to decisions on this illness goes back before this though. We're not disposable."

At least 602,164 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to a New York Times tracker, while more than 33.5 million people have contracted the illness.

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