As State Department leadership expressed concern about the accelerated uptick in coronavirus cases, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, are hosting holiday parties.
At a time when the United States is reporting a weekly average of more than 165,000, the couple invited hundreds of partygoers to a holiday event held on the eighth floor of the State Department building, according to The Washington Post. Despite the warnings and mitigation guidelines in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, event planners were reportedly told that the mitigation efforts did not apply to the event being held by the Pompeo couple.
The party currently being criticized is just one of many in Pompeo's lineup of holiday parties scheduled over the next three weeks. In fact, the publication obtained an invitation from an upcoming holiday event, titled, "Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays" which is expected to be held in the State Department's prominent event space, the Benjamin Franklin Room.
According to two officials aware of the event planning, more than 900 invitations have gone out for that event, which raises concerns about the possibility of another superspreader event.
As Pompeo continues to celebrate, public health experts are urging Americans to wear masks, social distance, and refrain from holding or attending large gatherings during the holiday season.
Many have shared their reaction to the White House's blatant disregard for the raging pandemic. Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, expressed concern about the dangers of holding such large gatherings at such a critical time during the pandemic.
"I'm flabbergasted," said Lipkin. "An indoor event of this kind is dangerous on so many levels."
Dr. Anthony Fauci has also warned against holiday large holiday gatherings. "What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in," Fauci told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "I don't want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this."