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State Department cancels holiday party after Pompeo goes into quarantine

The State Department canceled its holiday party on Wednesday after Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina labels human rights criticism 'groundless' Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same MORE was forced to go into quarantine after exposure to someone with the coronavirus.

People familiar with the situation told The Washington Post that the department sent out guidance to staff that a party scheduled for later in the day had been canceled. Foreign embassies received separate guidance saying the party was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.” 

The party's guest list had included 180 foreign ambassadors, chiefs of missions and their spouses, the Post reported.

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The Hill has reached out to the State Department for further comment.

A State Department spokesperson had confirmed that Pompeo entered quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. He has tested negative, but is “being closely monitored by the Department’s medical team.”

The Department did not identify the person with whom Pompeo came into contact or when the incident happened. However, the secretary canceled an in-person speech Tuesday evening at a State Department holiday party for family members of diplomats serving at dangerous posts overseas.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that only 70 of the 900 invited people attended the event, which drew criticism from critics who said it violated coronavirus guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department itself.

It’s unclear if the cancellation of Wednesday’s party was due to health concerns or low turnout for Tuesday’s party.

The United States is dealing with an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases. There have been 16,782,029 cases in the country since the pandemic began, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University, and over 305,000 in the U.S. have died.