White House planning a packed season of holiday parties despite COVID surge

While many public health professionals have asked Americans not to congregate in large group settings and avoid travel over the holidays because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 Americans and infected 13 million more, the White House is expected to throw more than a dozen indoor parties, including a large congressional ball on Dec. 10, officials say.

The parties will be paid for by the Republican Party, a person with knowledge of the planning said, and will cost millions of dollars.

The president and the first lady are determined to have a final holiday season in the White House, officials said, and concerns about spiking cases and deaths across the country have not stopped the events. Many of the administration’s supporters have taken a skeptical view of the restrictions over the virus and are choosing to attend, officials said.

Two people familiar with the planning said events are going to be scaled down in size this year from previous events — and the crowds will be smaller for each individual one — but will still be largely indoors. Mask-wearing and distancing will be encouraged, aides said, but was not included on two formal invites reviewed by The Washington Post.