Former President Barack Obama has come under fire for his plans to host nearly 500 people at his Martha’s Vineyard mansion for his 60th birthday, despite a nationwide rise in COVID cases.
The former president is set to turn 60 on August 4, and is said to be planning a large soiree at his 7,000-square-foot mansion in the Edgarton section of Martha’s Vineyard next weekend.
All guests will have to be COVID tested and vaccinated, Axios reports, and the party will be held outdoors on the Obama’s $12 billion 30-acre waterfront property.
There will also be a ‘COVID coordinator’ to ensure all proper protocols are being followed, but it remains unclear what proof of a negative COVID test or a vaccine will be required, and whether guests will be required to wear masks.
Former President Barack Obama prepared to play golf with former NBA player Alonzo Mourning on Martha’s Vineyard in 2014. He is now planning to hold his 60th birthday there
The party will be held outside the Obamas’ 7,000-square-foot home in Edgarton he and former first lady Michelle bought in 2019 for nearly $12 million (pictured)
The party comes just one month after nearby Provincetown saw a surge in coronavirus cases from the July 4 holiday.
The New York Times reports that the community, at the tip of Cape Cod, was crowded with over 60,000 people, many of whom were maskless, during the holiday.
Officials did not worry about it, however, as the community had one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.
But since then, scientists have traced 965 cases to the gatherings, 238 of them involving Provincetown residents.
Fortunately, only seven people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported.
As a result of the outbreak, scientists discovered that vaccinated people who got breakthrough COVID cases had the same viral load as those who did not get the vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control once again recommended even those who are vaccinated continue wearing their masks indoors in areas with ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ spread.
Martha’s Vineyard does not qualify as an area of ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ risk, but Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has recommended that even vaccinated people wear face masks.
‘If you have a serious health condition or risk of developing a severe illness from COVID, you should take extreme precautions,’ the governor announced last week.
‘If you have a close friend or family members who have a serious risk of developing a severe disease or illness from COVID, you should take extra precautions.’
Now, several people online have criticized Obama for holding a large party during the pandemic.
Some called it a potential ‘super spreader event,’ while another complained: ‘The elite do not have to follow the rules they have set for us.’
A third person asked: ‘Will they be wearing masks while sipping their champagne?’
Greg Pollowitz, meanwhile, wrote that Obama should cancel the birthday party in light of the recent outbreak in Provincetown, and someone with the Twitter handle @TheLesson55, wrote: ‘I have tremendous respect for Barack Obama. He stirs my soul when he speaks about America.
COVID cases have been rising throughout the country as a result of the delta variantf
Deaths, however, have continued on a downward trajectory
About 57 percent of all Americans are now vaccinated against the coronavirus
As news of Obama’s party broke, some took to Twitter to call it irresponsible amidst a resurgence in COVID cases
‘But I think he made a bad call on his upcoming birthday party at Martha’s Vineyard, even though it will be outdoors. It’s dangerous and a bad visual that the GOP will leverage relentlessly.’
David also questioned why the former president’s birthday party would be allowed ‘but the open border that brings in an entire city population each month isn’t cause for concern,’ and Beth Baumann listed other events that were considered controversial.
She said that voting in person and Trump rallies were considered super spreader events, but Democrats protesting the eviction moratorium expiring at the Capitol overnight and ‘Obama’s private birthday party with 500 guests’ are ‘totally normal.’
‘And politicians wonder why most Americans loathe them?’ she asked, rhetorically.
The former president and former first lady Michelle visited the island community in 2014
In 2014, Obama accepted the USC Shoah Foundation’s Ambassadors for Humanity Award from Honorary Chair Steven Spielberg, who is said to be coming to Obama’s 60th birthday party
Pearl Jam is expected to perform at the party, with the Obamas hiring a local hairdresser to style one of the band members’ hair
Obama’s party will take place next weekend at the $11.57 million home he and Michelle bought in 2019, and will include a performance by Pearl Jam.
A spokesperson for the former first family told The Sun the guest list ‘includes a number of family members and friends to mark the occasion,’ but The Hill reports guests include Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg.
President Joe Biden will not be attending the soiree, the White House announced, with a spokesperson telling Axios in a statement: ‘While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon ad properly welcoming him into the over 60 club.’
A local hairdresser was also reportedly hired to style one of the Pearl Jam member’s hair before their big performance.
In lieu of gifts, Axios reports, guests are being asked to ‘consider giving to programs that work to support boys and young men of color, and their families here at home in the United States, empower adolescent girls around the world and equip the next generation of emerging community leaders.’
The party is reportedly being paid for by the Obamas’ personal funds.