Health

Report: Journalists Refused To Use COVID Safety Protocols At Annual Gala Because It Would Interfere With Festivities

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has reportedly turned down an offer to install air filters inside the venue of this year’s prestigious White House Correspondents’ dinner, despite forcing attendees to go through a whole host of other COVID-19 safety measures.

Attendees at the event will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test as well as be fully vaccinated in order to attend. However, the WCHA and Washington Hilton, which is hosting the event, refused to install new advanced air filters — offered free of charge — ahead of the event, according to The Washington Post.

Organizers said they worried the air filters, which disinfect the air using UV light, would interfere with the event, according to The Post. University of Maryland environmental scientist Don Milton told The Post he had assembled a team offering to install the temporary devices for the event for free, as a “demonstration project,” but that “it has not worked out.”

WHCA leadership reportedly expressed concerns about the UV lights interfering with the work of servers at the event or making President Joe Biden look blue, the outlet reported.

The refusal to utilize every precaution to protect the dinner, which will host 79-year-old President Biden and a who’s-who of celebrities, politicians and journalists, is at odds with messaging and policy from the White House itself.

The administration decided last week to appeal a court decision striking down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate for public transportation. Biden’s COVID-19 czar, Dr. Ashish Jha, recently said he still endorses the masking of children under 5 years old, and White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has chosen not to attend the WHCA dinner due to concern about the pandemic, the Post reported.

The White House also publicly endorsed the efficacy of UV light purification in a statement last month. (RELATED: CDC: Most American Kids Have Caught COVID-19, And Almost All Of Them Were Just Fine)

The White House is still forcing or encouraging Americans to take substantial precautions against the virus in certain situations, but the WHCA is not making the major dinner as safe as possible, experts told The Post. Additionally, Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for the virus this week.

The White House Correspondents’ dinners for the last two years were canceled due to the pandemic.

“The reasoning is not clear to me,” Milton told The Post.