President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump opened the White House grounds to trick-or-treaters this Halloween, raising concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The official event was on Sunday, Oct. 25 — just over a week before Election Day. Photos of the event showed costumed kids holding bags right up to the president, who did not wear a face mask — festive or otherwise.
The Trump administration has hosted a Halloween celebration every year since 2017, and this year was no different. According to the official announcement, the event was open to military service members, frontline workers and their families for four hours on Sunday afternoon. The autumnal decorations were matched by Melania's knee-length coat, while the president wore his usual suit and red tie. Some children and parents wore face masks at the event, but others did not, raising concerns about possible spread of COVID-19 on the site.
According to a report by NBC News Washington, the guest list for Sunday night's event was not made public, so it is not clear how many people attended. Pictures made it clear that masks were not required and social distancing was not observed. Federal agencies were reportedly invited to set up their own attractions around the lawn, handing out candy to visiting children.
White House staffers were required to wear gloves and use a "no-touch" method to pass candy to the trick-or-treaters. Still, this was notably different from other celebrations in Washington, D.C., where crowds of 50 people or more are not permitted. Since the White House is federal property, it is not beholden to this rule.
Other annual Halloween events in the capital were canceled this year, including the parties at Georgetown University, and the usual High Heel race through Dupont Circle. Other cities around the country did their best to observe the holiday while minimizing risk, especially as the coronavirus pandemic surges in most states.
According to statistics from The New York Times, the U.S. surpassed 230,000 coronavirus deaths on Saturday. The number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths has been climbing, though the president continues to claim the opposite on the campaign trail, despite all the evidence that he is incorrect. The NYT published research this week showing that surging coronavirus cases in communities seems to correlate to waning support for Trump in the polls, indicating that his rhetoric on the pandemic is hurting him in the 2020 presidential election.