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Barack Obama's Birthday Party at Martha's Vineyard During Delta Surge Sparks Anger

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/2/2021 James Crump
a man standing on a baseball field: US President Barack Obama plays golf at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, August 8, 2015. Obama's large upcoming 60th birthday party at Martha’s Vineyard has been criticized on social media, as it will take place amid a surge in the Delta variant of COVID across the U.S. © Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images US President Barack Obama plays golf at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, August 8, 2015. Obama's large upcoming 60th birthday party at Martha’s Vineyard has been criticized on social media, as it will take place amid a surge in the Delta variant of COVID across the U.S.

Former President Barack Obama's upcoming 60th birthday party at Martha's Vineyard has been criticized on social media, as it will take place amid a surge in the Delta variant of COVID across the U.S.

The party, which is expected to take place on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, next weekend, will likely be attended by several celebrities with Axios reporting that Pearl Jam will provide music at the bash.

A person with knowledge of the party told Axios that all attendees will need to be tested for COVID and will be asked to be fully vaccinated before arriving at the event on the small island frequented by the Clintons.

A COVID coordinator will also be at the party to make sure all proper protocols are followed.

The source said there are already at least 475 guests and 200 staff confirmed to be attending the party, but the White House said that President Biden will not be at the event.

The party will take place amid a surge in the Delta variant of COVID across the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updating its face mask policy last week to advise fully vaccinated people to wear a face covering when indoors due to the uptick in cases.

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Following the report of the size of Obama's birthday party next weekend, several Twitter users criticized the former president, with many suggesting that the event should be cancelled.

Mark R. Jacobsen, an Assistant Dean at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, criticized Obama's leadership, writing: "Sorry Mr President @BarackObama - my kid would like a big birthday bash too - but this is tone deaf and we need some more leadership from influencers like you."

Jacobsen's comments were echoed by Twitchy.com editor Greg Pollowitz, who tweeted that "Obama must cancel his birthday party," and cited a recent COVID outbreak in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, as the reason, where around 469 people tested positive for COVID with around 74 percent of them fully vaccinated.

Other users called Obama a hypocrite, as conservative radio host and California Republican Governor recall candidate Larry Elder simply tweeted "#Hypocrisy" alongside a link to the Axios report.

Mediate Senior Columnist John Ziegler made a similar comment, tweeting: "Elite Liberals: The two greatest threats we face are the COVID pandemic and global warming!!

"Also Elite Liberals: Let's have a huge party on super-expensive beach front property we own, even though we claim to believe it will be soon overrun by the rising ocean!!"

In internal documents last week obtained by The Washington Post, CDC officials claimed that the Delta variant could carry a greater risk of people ending up in hospital than the original strain to hit the U.S. in early 2020.

The surge in infections caused by the variant meant that Florida broke its record for current hospitalizations from COVID on Saturday, as 10,207 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases, overtaking the previous high of 10,170 on July 23, 2020.

Florida also recorded 21,683 new cases of COVID on July 31, breaking its previous record of 19,334 cases that were reported on January 7.

The Delta variant is now the dominant strain of COVID in the U.S., and while speaking on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, warned people of the dangers of large gatherings.

"If you're talking about a small party like I might have at my house for six or eight people who are all fully vaccinated, I do not believe, at this point, we need to put masks on to be next to each other," Collins said.

"But, if there were 100 people, and, of course, how are you really going to be sure about people's vaccination status?"

Newsweek has contacted Obama's representatives for comment.

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