Was Barack Obama’s birthday bash a superspreader? 63 test Covid positive on Martha's Vineyard
The Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard has seen a massive explosion in the number of Covid-19 cases since August 7. As of August 13, 63 people have tested positive for the virus on the island, reportedly the largest number in a week since April 2021. Given the timing, many on social media have put the blame on former President Barack Obama's birthday bash, held over the weekend of August 7 and 8 on the island.
Despite the resurgence of the pandemic, the ex-President chose to go ahead with his party, with hundreds of guests. Initially, around 500 people were invited but he was then forced to "scale down" the event. It's unclear how scaled back the event was, since a considerable number of people still ended up making the trip to Martha's Vineyard. Unfortunately for Obama, he was also caught dancing maskless, leading to massive outrage on social media.
Given that several people were spotted without masks at the event, the big question being asked is - was the party responsible for the Covid-19 cases on Martha's Vineyard? The association seems easy to make, given that guests partied at various venues across the island like the Winnetu Oceanside Resort. However, the truth might be a bit more complex.
Was Obama's party responsible?
Tisbury health agent and boards of health spokesperson Maura Valley told the Daily Mail, "At this time we're not aware of any cases connected to the Obama party. It's a little too early and the only way we're going to know is through comprehensive contact tracing." Given that guests flew in from all around the country, and visited numerous venues on the island, it is certainly possible their presence could have contributed to the case rise. Party guests were seen at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, the Beach Road restaurant, and the Barn Bowl & Bistro during the long weekend.
However, they alone might not be responsible. As we reported on July 29, the Obama's required all attendees to present a negative Covid-19 test. If that rule was applied, then it means none of the guests brought the virus with them to the island. We cannot be sure unless the Obama's put out an official statement. What we do know is that the party itself is not entirely responsible. Data shows the island saw 48 new cases through August 7, double the week before. So Martha's Vineyard was already experiencing a surge in Covid-19, the question now becomes did Obama's party exasperate the issue? Until the Obama's publicly state whether or not all guests needed to show a negative Covid-19 test, we can only speculate.
Reportedly close to 300 people showed up for the party, and even if a few of them didn't have a negative test, then it is possible they could be responsible. However, it seems unlikely. The Obama's reportedly hired a "coronavirus coordinator" whose job was to ensure that the party was compliant with CDC guidance. Since the party, the island has reimposed mask mandates, with a couple of restaurants even temporarily closing due to staff testing positive. While cases have skyrocketed, no deaths have yet been reported, indicating that the vaccines are working.
On social media, people wasted no time in quickly sharing the story and slamming Obama. "#ObamaVariant is actually a thing now," one user joked. Another mocked, "There must have been some poor people who snuck into Obama's birthday party." One user tweeted, "There is no hypocrisy to see here. Please move along."
There is no hypocrisy to see here. Please move along.— P1_and_done (@p1_done) August 13, 2021
Some users have also attacked the high rate of vaccination in Massachusetts. Please note that the vaccine does not prevent Covid-19, only serious illness and hospitalization. That means Covid-19 numbers are likely to go up, even in areas with high vaccine rates if people mingle without masks and social distancing.