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The White House Defends Holiday Parties, Despite The Cdc Guidelines, Previous Superior Events

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The White House is moving forward with plans to host nearly two dozen large holiday gatherings in the coming weeks, despite CDC recommendations against doing so as coronavirus cases surge across the country.

“If you can loot businesses, burn down buildings, engage in protests, you can also 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.”

The White House is known for its extravagant annual holiday decorations and celebrations, with guests lists that include insiders, staffers and other VIPs.

But this year’s holiday season comes as health experts, including those in the Trump administration, have warned against large indoor gatherings because of the threat of spreading COVID-19, which has already killed more than 270,000 people in the United States. There have been nearly 14 million cases across the country.

A recent acceleration of cases has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to again sternly warn against large gatherings or travel for the holidays. According to the CDC, “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area” are considered at the highest risk. It also strongly encourages anyone attending in-person gatherings to wear masks whenever indoors.

The White House has already been the site of two suspected “superspreader” events, where multiple attendees later tested positive for COVID-19, including President Donald Trump.

More than 200 mostly maskless guests packed into the White House Rose Garden in September for a reception celebrating the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Shortly after the event, Trump, first lady Melania Trump, two U.S. senators, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and several other attendees tested positive for coronavirus.

An election night watch party held in the White House East Room also featured hundreds of mostly maskless guests mingling together. In less than two weeks, a number of attendees, including Housing Secretary Ben Carson, Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump political adviser Corey Lewandowski tested positive.

McEnany, who also contracted COVID-19, said that health guidelines will be followed. The White House will encourage attendees to wear masks and maintain social distance. Hand sanitizing stations will also be installed, she added.

“We will engage in the celebration of Christmas, and there will be a Hanukkah celebration as well,” she said.

The National Christmas Tree is lit up outside the Ellipse park south of the White House on December 1. The 98th annual National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s holiday season comes as health experts, including those in the Trump administration, have warned against large indoor gatherings because of the threat of spreading COVID-19.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty

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