Martha’s Vineyard is experiencing a COVID-19 spike with 74 people testing positive for the virus after hundreds of people converged on the wealthy enclave to dance and party — maskless — at last Saturday’s bash celebrating President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday.
Health officials are pointing out it is still too early to know if the cases were related to the workers and guests who gathered for Obama’s weekend extravaganza, The Daily Mail reported in an exclusive Saturday.
“At this time we’re not aware of any cases connected to the Obama party,” Tisbury health agent and Boards of Health spokesperson Maura Valley told the news outlet. “It’s a little too early and the only way we’re going to know is through comprehensive contact tracing.”
Last Saturday, hundreds of guests flew in from around the country to party under tents on his estate in Edgartown, but in the nights before the celebration itself, Obama also met with friends Thursday at the Barn Bowl & Bistro and then Friday at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort.
The party continued Sunday when Obama enjoyed a brunch at the Beach Road restaurant under a marquee that was built for him by the water in Vineyard Haven.
Even before the week celebrations, though, Martha’s Vineyard was already having a surge of cases, with 48 people falling ill in the week before the party. Of those people, about half had gotten their vaccinations, said health officials.
Obama had been preparing to welcome 500 people to his home for the party but announced the event was being scaled back while the COVID-19 virus, spurred by the delta variant, continued to grow nationwide.
Obama said he had retracted invitations for everyone but his own family and his close friends, but a laundry list of the rich and famous showed up, including the celebrity couples Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, who joined Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and about 300-400 others to eat, drink, and dance the night away.
Photos and videos were leaked from the party showed maskless Obama joining others on the dance floor. Singer Erykah Badu, one of many celebrities who released footage, has apologized on Twitter for being a “terrible guest,” reports USA Today.
Other party guests have also released selfies of themselves with the former president and his wife, Michelle — and masks were not being worn.
Many guests stayed in Edgartown, where the island is seeing a huge cluster of cases, with several celebrities, including actor Bradley Cooper, staying at the Harbor View Hotel, where six employees have tested positive for COVID, The Daily Mail reported.
Local health officials say there are other COVID clusters in Edgartown, including the Alchemy Bistro & Bar, where 14 cases have been reported, and at the Port Hunter restaurant with five cases. Both of the restaurants have been shut down temporarily, along with other establishments, and mask mandates are in place at bars and restaurants around Martha’s Vineyard.
“I’m sure some attendees went home with some extra luggage they didn’t pack or see,” one Edgartown resident told The Daily Mail. “I wouldn’t have gone to the party even if I was invited.”
A “coronavirus coordinator” was reportedly hired to ensure the party was CDC-compliant, and Obama said he was making his guests and staff maintain a high standard of care.
People attending the party were made to take COVID tests and share their results to enter the event, but island residents pointed out that the partygoers were all over the place on the island before hitting the former president’s estate.