The coronavirus epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 Americans, but the “big party” invited more than 900 people to participate in by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo has been completed. However, according to the Washington Post, the December 15 party may not have fewer than 70 guests present.
According to the report, as of Monday night (14th) local time, only about 70 people had responded to the invitation, and even fewer people were present. As for Pompeo himself, the scheduled speech was also cancelled and replaced by others. The U.S. State Department did not respond to why Pompeo cancelled his speech.
The party was held in Franklin Hall on the 8th floor of the U.S. State Department Building to invite the families of U.S. diplomats in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous areas.
According to live photos obtained by The Washington Post and descriptions by two U.S. officials, drinks, boxed lunches were served at the party, and a Santa Claus in a mask was walking back and forth between the tables and chatting with guests.
Despite the State Department’s claim that wearing masks are required to attend such events and will implement “social distancing” guidelines, as can be seen from party photos, there are many guests eating at each table, without social distancing, and few people are wearing masks.
Two invitees expressed disappointment at the event, saying that it would put diplomats, their families and the staff participating in the party at risk. A family member of a diplomat who refused to invite said that her husband worked abroad and that if she attended the party and was infected, no one could take care of their children.
“This is a completely irresponsible party.” The family said discontentedly.
At the end of November, the U.S. State Department issued an internal notice recommending that “all non-critical activities be changed to online and avoid offline gatherings”, but at almost the same time, the Pompeos sent invitations to more than 900 people for parties.
At a time when the coronavirus epidemic in the United States is extremely serious, the move has been strongly opposed, and health experts worry that the event will lead to “super spread”.
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a letter earlier this month: “My concern is that these gatherings constitute a huge health for the participants, as well as the staff who must serve the event. Risk. Employees of the State Department may also have to participate under pressure.
The American Foreign Service Association, which represents diplomats, also issued a statement earlier calling on the State Department to “change direction and set an example of responsible behavior”.
State Department has been urging U.S. embassies and consulates abroad to hold only online gatherings,” the statement said. “So it is disturbing to hear these [party] plans, which is not only contrary to the Department’s own guidelines, but also the Washington, D.C. health regulations.”
Under current rules in Washington, D.C., indoor gatherings must be kept under 10 people.
According to statistics from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as of 6 p.m. Beijing time on December 16, the cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States exceeded 16.724 million, and the death toll exceeded 303,000.