Where and How the Bushes, Obamas, McCains & More Are Spending Their Social Distancing During Coronavirus
The unprecedented social distancing effort has forced some of the United States' most prominent political families indoors, as everyone looks to "flatten the curve"
As people around the world have spread out into isolation to slow the new coronavirus, many are adjusting to new routines and new realities. They’re working from home or are searching for diversions or hobbies. Celebrities like Idris Elba have been learning how to play guitar and some are banding together to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” while others are trolling them.
The unprecedented social distancing effort has also forced some of the United States’ most prominent political families indoors, as everyone looks to “flatten the curve” and halt the spread of the coronavirus to protect hospitals while researchers work on treatments and a vaccine.
Joining people around the country, political families like the Bushes and Obamas are also using their platforms to spread helpful information about staying healthy — and sane — and giving some colorful peeks into their home lives.
Here’s where the Bush, Clinton, McCain, Obama and Trump families are and what they’re up to during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the coronavirus forced Today co-host Jenna Bush Hager to push back the release of her new book Everything Beautiful in Its Time until September, the former first daughter said this week on Instagram that she’s been riding out the pandemic by “hugging my babes, calling my friends and family, and finding comfort in books.”
Hager, who wrote the memoir Sisters First along with her 38-year-old twin sister Barbara Piece Bush in 2017, wrote on Instagram on Monday that she misses “talking to [her] friends about books” and called on her followers to support independent book stores, who are among the numerous businesses around the country struggling to keep business afloat as the federal government asks non-essential stores to temporarily shut their doors.
As for Barbara — who is more private than her sister and has not posted publicly about her routine amid the virus — she told PEOPLE last year that she moved from New York City to Boston with her husband, screenwriter Craig Coyne.
Barbara said then that she still made the 200-mile trek to New York to visit her sister and three nieces: Mila and Poppy and Hal, who was born last year.
“She’s really, really happy,” Hager told PEOPLE last year of her sister. “I think moving to Boston was a lot of fun because they’re kind of exploring a new town together.”
Their parents, former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, have been “handwashing and social distancing to the max,” he said in a recent email to his staff, according to The Dallas Morning News.
He was spending his time “reading, painting and riding mountain bikes,” and she was “reading, working puzzles and hiking,” he said.
But that wasn’t all: “Yes, we’re bingeing –— mysteries, dramas and documentaries,” he said.
The former first couple have been quiet on social media but ” typically split time between Dallas and their ranch in Crawford,” according to the Morning News.
Former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who later served as a secretary of state, have been staying close to home and taking the recommended precautions around the virus, PEOPLE understands. They own a house in upstate New York.
The Clintons, like the Bushes and many others, are in an at-risk group for the virus because of their age. (People over 60 and with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable.)
Through their eponymous foundation, the Clintons have helped send free meals to families in Arkansas with chef José Andrés and they released a “toolkit” of activities and ideas for parents with kids home while schools shift online. The Clintons also sent more than 400 pizzas to Westchester County hospitals in New York, which had been hit hard by virus cases.
Mrs. Clinton has been critical on social media of President Donald Trump‘s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. She unsuccessfully ran against him in the 2016 election.
She has regularly chastised her former opponent for his leadership and decision-making during the past three months as the U.S. first learned about and then eventually had to deal with the viral COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Many critics, like Mrs. Clinton, have said Trump’s response was too slow. Daughter Chelsea Clinton, who welcomed her third child with Marc Mezvinsky last summer and who lives in N.Y.C., has also criticized the Trump administration’s lag in distributing coronavirus testing kits.
“YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,” the former first daughter , 40, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, sharing a clip of Trump criticizing some state leaders for not treating him “well” during the outbreak. “Not some states. Not just of the people who voted for you. Not just of the people who are American citizens. THE UNITED STATES. It’s never too late to start acting like it.”
Mrs. Clinton, 72, has been blunt, too.
“It’s incredible that this has to be said: Letting thousands of people needlessly suffer and die is wrong. It’s also not a recipe for rescuing the economy,” she tweeted Tuesday, referencing Trump’s hope that much of America can return to normal by April 12 in an effort to restart the idle U.S. economy despite health officials’ warnings that the virus will likely not be contained by then.
“Please do not take medical advice from a man who looked directly at a solar eclipse,” the former first lady added.
President Clinton, 73, has offered brief updates on social media, which he’s used to offer messages of support and point Americans toward organization efforts to help those in need during the outbreak.
“America has always been at its best when we pull together in common cause,” he wrote on March 15. “The challenges we face will require sacrifice, but we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to keep one another safe. If you don’t absolutely need to leave home—don’t.”
Meghan McCain dropped some surprise happy news from home this week, announcing on Sunday that she and husband Ben Domenech are expecting a child together — their first since she revealed last year she had suffered a miscarriage.
“Although this isn’t how I expected to announce my pregnancy, both we and our families are excited to share the news with you all,” she wrote on social media, referencing the fact that the news comes the same month federal health officials are asking Americans to refrain from leaving home and gathering in groups.
She said Sunday that she would also start making satellite appearances on The View, where she is a co-host, saying she’s “joining the millions of Americans who are self-isolating as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 [the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus].”
A source close to the 35-year-old TV host told PEOPLE: “She and her family are very excited by the news. But right now, she’s finding strength at her role at The View. She knows her most important responsibility is to inform Americans to stay home and minimize the spread of the coronavirus.”
Mom Cindy McCain retweeted the good news about her daughters’ pregnancy on Sunday.
The 65-year-old McCain matriarch purchased a home in Phoenix last year just one block away from where she and her late husband, Sen. John McCain, raised four children, according to The Washington Post.
The McCains “big, bustling, blended clan,” as PEOPLE described them in a 2008 cover story, includes oldest sons Doug and Andy, whom Sen. McCain adopted when he married first wife Carol, and daughter Sidney as well as Meghan, Jimmy and Jack with second wife Cindy and youngest daughter Bridget, whom they adopted in the early ’90s from a Bangladeshi orphanage.
On Monday, former First Lady Michelle Obama gave an update on her family in a video posted by Ellen DeGeneres — part of a series of clips from the TV host where she catches up with friends from a safe distance (on her couch).
Obama, 56, said she had a full house again. Daughters Malia, 21, and 18-year-old Sasha were off to college until the virus forced many schools to shift to online classes. Husband Barack Obama has been hard at work on a memoir to match his wife’s own record-breaking book Becoming.
“Ya know, we’re just trying to, like, structure our days,” Mrs. Obama told DeGeneres. “I mean, everybody’s home. The girls are back because colleges are now online. So they’re off in their respective rooms doing their online classes and I think Barack is — I don’t know where he is. He was on the phone on a conference call. I just got finished with a conference call.”
DeGeneres noted that the Obamas were staying busy but the former first lady quickly admitted they “also got a little Netflix and chilling happening.”
“This is like no other time in history,” Mrs. Obama said. “Particularly for our kids, who are so used to being occupied and stimulated all of the time.”
The Obamas purchased an $11.75 million home on Martha’s Vineyard last year.
Mrs. Obama also told DeGeneres the isolation was “a good exercise in reminding us that we just don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have.”
“When times are bad, having each other, having your health, we can do with a lot less,” she said. “And I think that’s an important lesson I want my kids to understand as they get out there in the world. Be grateful for what you have and be ready to share it when the time comes.”
Both the former president and first lady have used their social media to share messages of unity and thankfulness: “So much depends on our ability to make good decisions going forward along with our ability to remain resilient,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
She posted on Instagram on Sunday: “These past few weeks have been scary and difficult for many of us. We just don’t have a roadmap for what we’re currently experiencing—that in and of itself can bring up feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and fear,” Obama, 56, wrote on Instagram. “Whatever you’re going through right now, I want you to know you aren’t alone. Even as we practice social distancing, this new normal is something we are figuring out together.”
The president, Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a senior White House aide, all came into contact with officials who later tested positive for the virus. They, as well as the first lady and Second Lady Karen Pence, all tested negative, according to the White House.
Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, also a White House adviser, remain in D.C. with their three young children. She worked from home for a few days out of precaution while awaiting her coronavirus test results.
The first lady is appearing in a public awareness campaign that the White House is launching with major media companies including Disney and NBC.
Various other Trump children such as Donald Trump Jr. appear to be social distancing with their own families, according to their social media.