WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- As coronavirus infection cases continue to rise and health experts advise against large indoor parties, the White House will still hold their annual Christmas and Hanukkah gatherings in the coming weeks.
- Prior to this, a Thanksgiving party organized by Melania Trump is also slated for Nov. 30.
- The spokeswoman for the first lady Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that all these events will be held in the safest environment where safety measures such as mask use and social distancing will be observed.
The White House intends to proceed with its plans to hold holiday celebrations in the coming weeks amid a continuous surge of coronavirus cases and the advice of public health professionals that Americans should nix their usual holiday parties to reduce virus transmission.
As cases exceed 12 million over the weekend, U.S. officials have urged Americans to stay home and cancel travel plans for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday to control the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable individuals from being exposed to the virus.
According to an invitation obtained by ABC News, even though President Donald Trump and his wife Melania will skip their annual Thanksgiving at Trump’s Florida club, the first lady still plans to organize a holiday gathering on Nov. 30.
This news comes after several White House events held in recent months have been connected to COVID-19 outbreaks including Trump’s own bout with the disease in late September as well as a recent infection of a White House aide along with four others.
In a statement, spokeswoman for the first lady Stephanie Grisham assured that the Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations at the White House will be held at the “safest environment possible” involving a smaller guest list, requiring masks and social distancing, and providing hand sanitizers.
“Guests will enjoy food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations. All passed beverages will be covered,” she said. “Attending the parties will be a very personal choice. It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”
However, health experts within the administration have cautioned against holding large indoor gatherings as these events can be super-spreaders of the virus.
Citing advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told ABC News in an interview on Monday that it’s best to hold celebrations outdoors with as few as possible.
“These apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone,” he said.
Yet, Americans seem to ignore the advice. On Monday, federal transportation officials reported screening the highest number of passengers since March as millions of Americans flocked to the airports to travel home for Thanksgiving.