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Obama Guests: Spielberg, Pearl Jam, a 'COVID Coordinator'

President hosting birthday bash on Martha's Vineyard amid delta surge
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2021 11:26 AM CDT
Obama Guests: Spielberg, Pearl Jam, a 'COVID Coordinator'
Former President Obama is turning 60.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(Newser) – Barack Obama is turning 60 on Wednesday, and he plans to celebrate with a bash on his 30-acre property this weekend on Martha's Vineyard, reports Axios. The site says nearly 500 guests are expected, in addition to about 200 staff to serve them, a total that's raising eyebrows given the recent surge in COVID cases. Pearl Jam is scheduled to play, and the guest list includes Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and George Clooney, according to the Hill. President Biden, however, won't be there. Axios says a "COVID coordinator" will be on-site to make sure everyone is following the rules. All guests are required to be vaccinated, though it's unclear how that will be verified, and to be tested before attending. It isn't clear whether masks will be required at the outdoor event.

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While Martha's Vineyard isn't in an area of "substantially high" risk as defined by the CDC in its new masking recommendations, the island last week issued a mask advisory for indoor spaces even for the vaccinated, reports the Vineyard Gazette. And the New York Post notes that Provincetown, also in Massachusetts, is where there was a large outbreak last month that included vaccinated people—another factor in the revised CDC guidelines. On CNN Sunday, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, while not addressing the Obama party specifically, said people should use "common sense" in regard to masks at large gatherings. Smaller get-togethers are likely OK without masks, he said, but "if there were 100 people," that's a much bigger risk—"and, of course, how are you really going to be sure about people's vaccination status?" (CDC data shows that vaccines drastically reduce the chances of serious illness or death.)

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