Republican Official Says He Caught COVID-19 at White House Hanukkah Party

The White House held two in-person Hanukkah parties on December 9, even though previous White House events had already been identified as COVID-19 super-spreader events

JTA
Philissa Cramer
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JTA
Philissa Cramer

The vice chair of Massachusetts’ Republican Party — and of its Republican Jewish group — says he’s pretty sure he contracted COVID-19 at the White House Hanukkah party.

Tom Mountain, who has been hospitalized twice in recent weeks, told the Boston Globe on Saturday he regrets attending the December 9 event, over the objections of his wife.

“I didn’t listen to the warnings of my own family, and now I’m paying the price,” Mountain told the Globe. From the newspaper’s report:

“I was one of those people who thought I would never be a statistic,” he said. “But any large gathering like that where you have people from all over the country, somebody’s bound to have it.”

Now, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and mother-in-law have also all tested positive for the virus, he said.

“I have to admit I wasn’t the most careful about wearing the face masks,” Mountain said, “but now I’m zealous about it. I have no doubt about their necessity.”

Mountain is a right-wing Republican in the country’s most heavily Democratic state. A resident of Newton, a Boston suburb, he lamented on a local news site that Jews who supported President Donald Trump were made to feel unwelcome in his town’s non-Orthodox synagogues.

Last year, Mountain wore a Trump campaign jacket for the launch event for the Massachusetts Republican Jewish Committee. He told the now-defunct Jewish Advocate that he was impressed at the event to see “Christians and Jews united together to confront the rising antisemitism of the Democrats.”

The White House held two in-person Hanukkah parties on December 9, even though previous White House events had already been identified as COVID-19 super-spreader events. Many invited guests declined to attend because of the pandemic.

Trump was not at the first party, which Mountain attended, but did make an appearance at the second, where he said he expected to win the election that news networks had called for Democrat Joe Biden more than a month earlier.

Mountain said he began showing symptoms and tested positive on Friday, December 11, just two days after attending the White House event. “No one can ever say for sure exactly where they got it, but I’ll say this: Before the party, I was in perfectly good health,” he told the Globe. “Three days later, I was in the hospital with COVID, and it was all downhill from there.”

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