“This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with covid safeguards in place,” Hannah Hankins, a spokesperson for the Obamas, said in a statement to media outlets. “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.”
Obama’s birthday is actually today, but the event was to be held at the former First Family’s estate on the island, with reports that such celebrities like Steven Spielberg would attend along with former administration officials and top donors.
There had been a considerable amount of news media attention to the event in recent days, given concerns over the spread of Covid in large gatherings, even though the plans were for the event to be held outside. An outbreak of Covid on Fourth of July weekend in Provincetown heightened concerns over the spread of the Delta variant.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy whether holding the party send the “wrong example.”
“I would note, first, that former President Obama has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated,” Psaki said, adding that the CDC has provided guidance on indoor settings “in high or substantial high zones of COVID cases.”
“This event, according to all the public reporting, is outdoors and in a moderate zone,” she said. “But in addition, there is testing requirements and other steps they are taking, which I’m sure they can outline for you in more detail.”
President Joe Biden was not planning to attend and instead will be at his home in Rehoboth Beach, DE.
Meanwhile, tied to the former president’s birthday, HBO debuted Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, a three-part documentary series from Peter Kunhardt.