Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Wednesday said he will still hold holiday parties at his home this month for friends, family, and lawmakers, despite the coronavirus surge in his state.
There are 122 members of the Mississippi House of Representatives and 52 members of the Senate, and he will have separate parties for both chambers. Reeves told WAPT he has invited "primarily friends and family to a couple of events, but also those individuals that are statewide leaders or agency heads or certainly leaders in the House and Senate." Many of them "will choose not to come, which is certainly their prerogative," he added, "but we'll certainly open the mansion to no more than 10 people indoors," with the rest congregating outside. He also said everyone at his parties will be required to wear a mask while inside.
As of Wednesday, there have been 170,672 confirmed coronavirus cases in Mississippi, with 4,041 deaths. Over the last month, the state's seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has increased from 804 to 1,931, and there are now 1,125 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The Mississippi Health Department is advising residents to avoid gatherings that include people outside of their immediate family or household.
In July, there was a coronavirus outbreak in the Mississippi statehouse, with 30 legislators and 11 others testing positive for COVID-19. State Rep. Chris Bell (D) told WAPT he was invited to one of the holiday parties at the governor's mansion, but RSVPed no. Over the summer, lawmakers didn't follow recommendations to socially distance and avoid gatherings of 50 or more people, and Bell said he has "the same concerns today with respect to this Christmas party." Catherine Garcia
The White House is still going to hold indoor parties this holiday season, with first lady Melania Trump's spokeswoman saying attending the celebrations "will be a very personal choice."
The number of coronavirus cases is surging across the United States, with the highest-ever number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, but invitations still went out for a Nov. 30 event hosted by the first lady, ABC News reports. The White House has held events linked to coronavirus outbreaks before, including a ceremony in September to introduce President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's spokeswoman, told NBC News in a statement that the holiday celebrations will be held in the "safest environment possible," with masks "required and available" and plenty of hand sanitizer. The guest lists will be smaller, she continued, and attendees will be served "food individually plated by chefs at plexiglass-protected food stations," with all passed beverages covered.
"Attending the parties will be a very personal choice," Grisham said. "It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations."
If he receives an invitation, Surgeon General Jerome Adams is probably going to RSVP "no," seeing as how earlier Monday he said it was important for people to "understand that these holiday parties can be superspreader events." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends holding any celebration outside with just a handful of people, and Adams said these guidelines "apply to the White House, they apply to the American people, they apply to everyone." Catherine Garcia