Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, hosted a 70-person indoor wedding for his daughter in Atlanta in late May, possibly violating state rules and federal guidelines designed to halt the spread of Covid-19, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, another case of White House officials seemingly flouting coronavirus protocols.
The wedding took place in an ornate Atlanta ballroom, and its 70-person guest list included Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has expressed skepticism of coronavirus restrictions and frequently declined to wear a face mask, AJC reported.
Guests stood close to each other during the wedding, and most did not appear to wear masks, according to photos of the event reviewed by AJC.
Earlier that month, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, had banned all gatherings of more than 10 people in a single location across the state.
Georgia was reporting about 600 new Covid-19 cases and 25 deaths per day when the wedding was held, making Georgia’s outbreak one of the country’s fastest-growing at the time, though the state’s death toll and infection rate peaked about two months later.
Weeks before the wedding, President Donald Trump was still predicting Covid-19 would suddenly “go away” and emphasizing that most people recover from the virus.
Myrna Antar, president of venue manager Novare Events, told Forbes the wedding complied with state protocols because the venue was large enough to accomplish social distancing as defined by Kemp’s order: “prior to allowing the subject event to go forward, Novare Events verified that it would be acting lawfully and in compliance with the Governor’s Order.”
“Across the Peach State, businesses are reopening their doors with robust safety precautions,” Kemp told reporters on May 28, three days before Meadows’ daughter’s wedding. “But the status quo is never acceptable. We cannot rest on our laurels.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Trump and his staff have hosted several large events that ran afoul of public health guidelines. Last month, the White House invited dozens of maskless people to the Rose Garden for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony, and several politicians and staffers who attended the packed event later tested positive for the coronavirus. The Trump campaign has also hosted several raucous rallies in recent months, at least three of which were indoors. Most recently, even after Trump tested positive for Covid-19, he refused to participate in the next presidential debate if organizers switch from an in-person event to a virtual session. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the White House’s health advisors, have discouraged large indoor gatherings.
Top White House aide hosted lavish Atlanta wedding in May despite virus restrictions (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
From the Rose Garden to rallies: What large gatherings can teach us about the spread of coronavirus (CNN)