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Obama to host Covid-compliant 60th birthday party amid rising virus concerns, source says

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By Allie Malloy, CNN

Former President Barack Obama will celebrate his 60th birthday this weekend with a party in Martha’s Vineyard, with many Covid-19 safety protocols in place amid heightened concerns over the Delta variant, a source familiar with the planning told CNN.

The event this weekend, which will be held outside, will follow all US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health protocols, the source said. There will be testing for guests and a Covid safety coordinator on site.

Martha’s Vineyard, in Dukes County, is currently designated by the CDC as an area of “moderate” Covid-19 community spread.

The CDC has only recommended mask wearing indoors for areas of “high” and “substantial” transmission, which includes nearly two-thirds of all US counties.

Obama’s birthday is Wednesday, August 4. The Hill was first to report on the former President’s big birthday bash.

The Obamas had vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard for almost every year of Obama’s presidency. The former first family in 2019 reportedly bought a 29-acre property on the island that was listed for nearly $12 million.

Massachusetts has a high vaccination rate. But this July Fourth holiday, Provincetown, Massachusetts — also on the Cape — was the site of a large outbreak of breakthrough cases of Covid-19 among vaccinated people, prompting the CDC to change its face mask recommendations.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Obama’s party on Monday, insisting during a press briefing that the former President’s team had numerous safety protocols in place for the event.

Noting that Obama “has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated,” Psaki, who had worked in his administration, said: “What CDC has provided guidance on is for indoor settings and higher substantial high zones of Covid cases. This event … is outdoors, and in a moderate zone.”

Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institute of Health, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that it is “best to mask” in a large group where you don’t know other people’s vaccination status.

“Maybe there are some immunocompromised people there, who though they are vaccinated, are not fully protected, the dynamic changes. There will be need for common sense there,” he said.

In lieu of gifts for the former President, guests are being asked to consider giving to programs that work to support boys and young men of color and their families in the United States, empower adolescent girls around the world, and equip the next generation of emerging community leaders including the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the Girls Opportunity Alliance, or the Obama Foundation’s Global Leadership programs, the source added.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional reporting on the timing of the party.

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CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Nikki Carvajal and Devan Cole contributed to this report.

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