Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo's Holiday Party Plans Have People Seeing Red

With Thanksgiving 2020 behind us, its time to try and get ready for a holiday season whose shape and form which will most likely be dictated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — which seems to be picking up speed and spreading more quickly. The U.S. recorded its single-worst daily death toll since COVID-19 struck the country in the spring, and the number of hospitalizations has topped 100,000, or more than double what it was before the holiday season, in the beginning of November (via The New York Times).

So it would be understandable for the State Department, headed by Mike Pompeo, to recommend that "any non-mission critical events" be changed to "virtual events as opposed to in-person gatherings." What was less clear is why the guidance didn't apply to indoor parties hosted by the Secretary of State and his wife Susan, which are expected to involve hundreds of guests. One event, which The Washington Post says is has been called "Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays" will potentially have 900 attendees. While one State Department spokesman has promised that "we plan to fully enforce social distancing measures at this reception, and face coverings are mandatory for admittance", there are still fears that this could become a super-spreader event.  

The White House has also kicked off holiday festivities

The State Department isn't alone. CNN reports that the White House has kicked off its holiday party season which could see as many as a dozen festive gatherings, the first of which happened on Monday, when first lady Melania Trump held a "thank you" party for volunteers who dressed up the White House for the Christmas season. They were all clustered in an area known as the White House Cross Hall foyer to take pictures of the first lady as she was speaking. Many were taking photos in front of trees without masks; few were practicing social distancing.

Other parties will be held on the 7th and 8th of this month, and then there is the Congressional Ball which is scheduled for December 10th, and which comes after Congress' attending physicians sent a memo asking both members and staff to wear surgical masks, avoid social gatherings, and practice social distancing. The first lady's chief of staff Stephanie Grisham has said that "The People's House will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah while providing the safest environment possible. This includes smaller guest lists, masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor."

Grisham said it will be up to the attendees to decide whether or not to attend the celebrations.