Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are surging to record highs, but President Donald Trump will carry on with White House holiday gatherings as usual, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday.
Her comments came in response to a reporter who asked her at a news briefing how the White House could continue with planned holiday parties while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks Americans to forgo celebrations to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“If you can loot businesses, burn down buildings, engage in a protest, you can also go to a Christmas party,” McEnany responded. “You can celebrate the holiday of Christmas, and you can do it responsibly.”
The White House plans at least 25 indoor holiday parties this month. All will include more than 50 guests, The Washington Post reported, and few attendees will be tested in advance. Invitations make no mention of coronavirus precautions.
The White House parties will have smaller guest lists than usual, McEnany said. Still, it’s clear Trump is comfortable hosting hundreds of guests. Two recent events ― a celebration for then-Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and an election night party ― were linked to a flurry of new coronavirus cases.
Basic safety protocols ― masks and social distancing ― will be optional at the holiday parties, McEnany said.
“Masks are going to be available. Social distancing is going to be encouraged,” she said.
If Trump’s past gatherings are any indication, it’s likely most guests will ignore safety measures. Few who’ve attended Trump’s large-scale events have worn masks or kept safe distances from others. Trump himself has rarely been seen wearing a mask ― reckless behavior mimicked by thousands of supporters at his campaign rallies.
McEnany, during her Tuesday briefing, referred to safety protocols encouraged by Democratic leaders as “draconian restrictions.”
The decision to carry on with holiday parties at the White House comes amid a devastating surge in new coronavirus cases nationwide. A record 96,039 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The U.S. is averaging more than 150,000 new cases every day ― around double the number during the summer surge. The pandemic continues to disproportionately impact nonwhite people.
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