These days, in the American capital, two parallel realities come together.
Last week, the District of Columbia, home to the city of Washington, recorded 371 new infections with COVID-19 in 24 hours. A record since the start of the pandemic.
In an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, Mayor Muriel Bowser has tightened the health measures in place. Inside, gatherings of more than ten people are now prohibited. As for outdoor gatherings, the permitted limit is reduced by half, from 50 to 25 people.
Never mind, the White House, which occupies federal territory, has entered its holiday season well. While some events, such as the lighting of the Christmas tree, have been altered due to the pandemic, rallies are still scheduled.
The New York Times revealed this week that invitations have been issued for some 20 celebrations in December. Campaign staff, White House employees and Republican elected officials were invited to attend.
President Trump is not alone in celebrating the end of the year. The Washington post We learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also prepares parties, for which 900 invitations have been sent.
A spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump assures us that in the White House, the wearing of the mask will be required by employees and advised to diners. The dishes will be served separately in protected cutlery and the feeding areas will be separated by Plexiglas.
The mayoress of Washington, however, doubts that this will protect the guests gathered inside the presidential residence.
Unfortunately, history has shown us that people can get sick. And they got sick while visiting the White House, both visitors and employees. I worry about them, she said.
The elected Democrat obviously has in mind the ceremony that was organized in September for the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Although the exact role played by the event has not been determined, after their presence at the rally, several Republican officials and collaborators of the president were tested positive.
President Trump himself was hospitalized a week later.
Months later, the masks, which are worn by some White House staff, remain unpopular with the president.
As recently as Thursday, President Trump presented a medal to former footballer Lou Holtz in the Oval Office, in front of guests who did not see fit to cover their faces.
A deteriorating situation
As the White House begins its celebrations, the country is going through an unprecedented crisis. On Wednesday alone, COVID-19 killed more than 2,800 in the United States, a daily high since the start of the pandemic.
Facing a rise in hospital admissions, California, the nation’s most populous state, expects to run out of intensive care beds by Christmas.
With more than 100,000 cases of infection reported daily for 26 of the 30 days of November, authorities are making a clear recommendation to Americans as the holiday season approaches:
The safest way to celebrate the holidays is to stay home with your family.
Of course, there is hope on the horizon. Regulatory authorities are expected to approve vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna in the coming weeks. Twenty million Americans could receive their doses by the end of the year.
However, the CDC director predicts that the months of December, January and February
will be the most difficult in the history of the country's public health.
This crisis could be made worse by the effects of Thanksgiving rallies last month, but also by Christmas and New Year celebrations, such as those organized by the White House. These events could have repercussions on the spread of the virus in the capital.
The title of this text is obviously a reference to this famous film by Tim Burton The strange Christmas of Mr. Jack. What officials in the Washington area fear is that the White House holiday season looks more like the original title of the feature film. : The Nightmare Before Christmas, the nightmare before Christmas.