WH Plows Forward With Indoor Holiday Parties As COVID-19 Cases Surge Nationwide

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 23: U.S. first lady Melania Trump receives the 2020 White House Christmas Tree November 23, 2020 at the White House in Washington, DC. The 18 foot tall Fraser Fir from West Virginia will be... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 23: U.S. first lady Melania Trump receives the 2020 White House Christmas Tree November 23, 2020 at the White House in Washington, DC. The 18 foot tall Fraser Fir from West Virginia will be decorated and displayed in the Blue Room of the White House for this holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS

In the waning days of President Trump’s presidency, the White House is reportedly going all out by hosting indoor holiday parties as the country grapples with more than 266,000 deaths from COVID-19 thus far.

According to the Washington Post on Tuesday, the White House has already begun its annual holiday party season commemorating various religious traditions on Monday afternoon. Officials told the Post that many of the guests in the White House were wearing masks on Monday, but some were not.

A person with knowledge of the planning told the Post that the holiday parties will be funded by the Republican Party and cost millions of dollars.

Officials told the Post that the President and first lady Melania Trump are hellbent on hosting their final holiday hurrah in the White House as many supporters of the Trump administration who plan to attend the events hold a skeptical view of coronavirus restrictions.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told the Post that the holiday parties will include “smaller guest lists,” mask-wearing requirements, hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor and the encouragement of social distancing  “while on the White House grounds.”

An official told the Post, however, that the events will host more than 50 people and most guests will not be tested in advance.

One White House ally told the Post he had been invited to two parties already, while another said a formal invitation didn’t include guidance on masks or social distancing.

The events celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and other religious holidays. Those who’ve received invitations include donors, lawmakers, senior staffers on Capitol Hill, family members of White House aides, and prominent conservative supporters.

Officials told the Post that the President and first lady typically make an appearance at such events, which are a bipartisan annual tradition. According to the Post, a senior Republican aide said there is “considerable interest” among Capitol Hill Republicans in attending the White House-hosted holiday events.

The Post reported that the officials said some of the events are tours, others are formal receptions with food and drink offerings, and that on some days there will be two parties a day.

The White House’s indoor holiday season parties contradict the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warns that indoor gatherings pose higher risks of spreading COVID-19 compared to outdoor events.

Last month, Surgeon General Jerome Adams reminded the White House that health safety measures apply to everyone ahead of the first lady’s indoors “holiday reception.”

The health official pointed to the CDC’s guidelines on holiday festivities that urge people to keep the gatherings small and limited to those living in the same household.

“These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people. They apply to everyone,” Adams said.

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