Obama scales down his 60th-birthday bash amid Delta variant surge

Former President Obama
Former President Obama speaks at a rally for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in Atlanta in November.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

The party for the nation’s 44th president will go on, but only for family and close friends.

Former President Obama has scaled back his 60th-birthday bash, set for this weekend, because of the surge in coronavirus infections blamed on the Delta variant, his office said Wednesday.

Attendance is now limited to family and close friends. Published reports had said hundreds of celebrities, politicos and others were expected at Obama’s sprawling Martha’s Vineyard home.


“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with COVID safeguards in place,” Obama spokesperson Hannah Hankins said in a statement. “Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.

“President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon,” Hankins added.

The former two-term president turned 60 on Wednesday. His plans for a milestone birthday celebration were criticized after reports about the event were published this week.

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Aug. 3, 2021

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people — including those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — resume wearing masks in public indoor spaces in areas with high rates of transmission to protect against the Delta variant. Some states and cities also have reinstated mask requirements as infections surge around the country.

The CDC website Wednesday listed the rate of transmission in Dukes County, Mass., which includes the island of Martha’s Vineyard, as “substantial.”

The Biden administration has blamed the latest surge on the approximately 90 million people who remain unvaccinated.


Obama’s defenders stressed that the birthday party was being held outdoors, guests were being asked to provide a negative coronavirus test result and that a COVID coordinator had been enlisted to ensure that the event followed all public health guidelines.

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Aug. 3, 2021

Both Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have urged fellow Americans to get their shots and follow public health protocols.

“COVID-19 has gotten more contagious, so it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated,” the former president said last week in a tweet that included a link for people to find vaccination centers in their area. “Vaccines are safe, and the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

President Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, did not plan to attend the party.