As plans continue for the White House to hold nearly two dozen major holiday rallies in the coming weeks, despite the CDC’s recommendations not to do so as coronavirus cases increase across the country.
” If you can loot stores, burn buildings, hold protests, you can go to a Christmas party,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Wednesday. “You can celebrate the holiday of Christmas, and you can do it responsibly.”
White House is known for its extravagant annual holiday decorations and celebrations with guest lists featuring insiders, staff and other VIPs.
But this year’s vacation season is coming as health experts, including those in the Trump administration, have warned against large gatherings indoors due to the risk of COVID-19 spreading, which has already killed more than 270,000 people in the United States. There have been nearly 14 million cases across the country.
The recent acceleration in cases has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to again issue strong warnings against large gatherings or vacation trips. According to the CDC, “large face-to-face gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet, and where participants arrive from outside the local area,” are considered the most vulnerable. The CDC strongly recommends that all participants in face-to-face meetings wear masks when indoors.
The White House has been the site of two suspected “superspreader” events, where several participants, including President Donald Trump, later tested positive for COVID-19.
In September, more than 200 mostly maskless guests thronged to the White House Rose Garden for a reception to mark Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Shortly after the event, Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, two U.S. Senators, former Trump consultant Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and several other attendees tested positive for coronavirus.
At an election night watchman party in the East Hall of the White House, hundreds of mostly maskless guests mingled among the guests. In less than two weeks, a number of participants, including Housing Secretary Ben Carson, Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump Policy Advisor Corey Lewandowski, tested positive for coronavirus.
McEnany, who also committed to COVID-19, said the health guidelines were being followed. The White House will encourage participants to wear masks and maintain social distance. Hand disinfection stations will also be established, she added.
“We will participate in the Christmas party, and there will also be a Hanukkah celebration,” she said.