Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Quarantine After COVID-19 Exposure

Virginia Chamlee
·3 min read

Vesa Moilanen/REX Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in quarantine after being exposed to someone with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), PEOPLE confirms.

The State Department said in a statement on Wednesday that Pompeo had "come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID" but had so far tested negative himself.

“For reasons of privacy we can’t identify that individual," a department spokesperson said. "The Secretary has been tested and is negative. In accordance with CDC guidelines, he will be in quarantine. He is being closely monitored by the Department’s medical team.”

The news comes just one day after the department organized a holiday party with a 900-person guest list — though The Washington Post reported that "only a tiny fraction" of those invitees ended up attending, following backlash amid the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Pompeo, 56, had been set to host the party and speak there but ultimately canceled his speech, according to the Post.

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Dubbed "Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays," according to a copy of an invitation obtained by the Post, the Tuesday party was one of at least three holiday gatherings originally planned to be hosted by the State Department.

Pompeo was set to host another reception on Wednesday though The Post reported that event had been scuttled.

A spokesperson for the State Department previously told PEOPLE that a number of safety precautions would be in place for the events, including temperature checks, mandatory masks and social distancing guidelines.

The White House has also held several well-attended indoor gatherings to celebrate the season, including one with an appearance by the president himself.

The recent events come in the wake of a so-called "super-spreader" held in the White House Rose Garden in late September. Following that gathering, a slew of high-profile figures were sickened by the virus, including Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, though the definitive source of the infections remains unclear.

Some attendees at an election-night party at the White House also later tested positive for the virus.

Even with social distancing guidelines in place, large indoor gatherings can be dangerous during the pandemic, experts say.

"We want everyone to understand that these holiday celebrations can be super-spreader events," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said in a November interview with Good Morning America.

Federal guidelines against hosting indoor gatherings, he added, "apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone."

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