Nancy Pelosi has called off an in-person dinner for new House members because there's, you know, a pandemic going on. "To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner," her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, wrote on Twitter. "There is no group dinner." The Daily Beast reports that Pelosi had touted the Friday dinner on Capitol Hill as "very spaced," saying Congress' attending physician had signed off and the room had extra ventilation. But a tweeted photo of the spaced-out tables prompted a backlash. "Cancel your precious dinner, you maniacs," tweeted MSNBC host Chris Hayes. "My God." Another liberal, journalist Josh Marshall, tweeted that "this is an incredibly bad idea."
Marshall added that "people around the country who will reasonably take it as a signal that getting together with family is probably fine." It didn't help that Pelosi had just called the pandemic "an emergency of the highest magnitude," per Forbes. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also has a dinner slated for newly elected Republicans—his on Sunday night—but he hasn't decided whether to alter or cancel it. Meanwhile, the US is breaking daily COVID-19 records and reported over 160,000 cases on Thursday. A deeper dive at Our World in Data looks at other important numbers, like positivity rate and fatality rate; America's positivity rate is 12% (better than France, for example, but worse than Canada) and fatality rate is 2.3% (which is tied with France and better than Canada).