U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to media prior to meeting Kuwait’s Foreign Ministers on November 24, 2020 in Washington, DC, United States.
Saul Loeb | Reuters
As Covid-19 was on the rise across the country, the American Foreign Service Association criticized large indoor vacation events scheduled at the U.S. Department of State on Friday.
AFSA, which includes active and retired officials and foreign service specialists from the State Department and other federal agencies, said in a statement it was “very concerned to see reports of plans to host holiday celebrations with hundreds of invitees at the ministry State. “
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other State Department officials have planned several domestic holidays, including one with at least 900 invited guests, the Washington Post reported.
The planned events contradict a November 25 statement from State Department leadership directing employees not to host non-business critical events in person and “opt for virtual events,” NBC News reported.
“We urge the department to reverse course and model responsible behavior according to their own guidelines,” said AFSA.
“We have taken every precaution to reduce the number of people in all rooms at the same time, and plan to keep the outdoor space open and available to the participants, weather permitting,” a State Department spokesman said in an E -Mail in response to the statement from the AFSA department plans to follow health precautions, including requesting masks, social distancing, and temperature control.
The spokesman did not provide guidance on how the State Department will enforce the wearing of masks while food and drink will be provided at the events.
The Centers for Disease Control are warning against indoor gatherings as they pose a higher risk of the spread of coronavirus than outdoor gatherings.
The White House also plans to host at least 20 indoor Christmas parties, including one Tuesday night with an appearance by President Donald Trump, according to NBC News. Pictures from the event show several participants not wearing masks.
Several events at the White House, including the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett and an election night celebration, have resulted in dozens of coronavirus cases. In total, at least 45 White House-affiliates, including Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have tested positive for the virus.
When asked during a press conference on Wednesday whether the White House is setting a good example for Americans by hosting personal Christmas parties, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “You can celebrate the Christmas holidays and you can do it responsibly … we will contact you attend the Christmas party. “McEnany tested positive for Covid-19 in October.
A report by the White House’s own coronavirus task force, received on NBC News on Wednesday, warned, “The risk of COVID for all Americans is at an all-time high.”
The report urged Americans to avoid social gatherings and made it clear: “If you are over 65 years of age or have significant health problems, do not go into indoor public spaces where there is an imminent health risk exposure. “”
The US reported a record number of new daily Covid-19 cases, current hospitalizations and one-day deaths on Thursday, suggesting the national virus crisis is only accelerating.