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Former President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet wellwishers at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts on Aug. 6, 2016. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama this week "significantly" scaled back his huge 60th birthday bash scheduled for this weekend amid heightened concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant, the New York Times reports.

Catch up fast: Hundreds of guests had been invited to the party, including friends, family, former aides and celebrities, including Steven Spielberg, Axios' Sarah Mucha first reported.

The big picture: The change of plans comes as concerns over the the highly contagious Delta variant grow, and days after data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that vaccinated people may transmit the Delta variant as easily as those who are unvaccinated.

  • Scaling back the party also comes after Obama had "at first appeared eager to carry on with his plans, displaying what some viewed as a casual disregard for the optics of his birthday bash," per the Times.

What they're saying: "Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends," Hannah Hankins, a spokesperson for the former president, told the Times on Wednesday morning.

Between the lines: Guests were asked to be vaccinated and were required to submit their negative COVID-19 test results to a COVID-coordinator before the event.

  • "They’ve been concerned about the virus from the beginning, asking invited guests if they had been vaccinated, requesting that they get a test proximate to the event," David Axelrod, a former top Obama adviser, told the NYT.
  • "But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances."

Go deeper: Obama plans birthday bash amid COVID concerns

Go deeper

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.