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A man has been hospitalized with the coronavirus after attending a large indoor holiday party thrown by a local Republican group in Queens.
The gathering, thrown by the Whitestone Republican Club earlier this month, went viral after a video surfaced online showing a large group of maskless partiers dancing in a conga line to the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing.”
James Trent, chair of the local party affiliate Queens Village Republican Club, attended the party and told the Queens Daily Eagle that he began having symptoms two days after the party, on Dec. 9.
He was admitted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset this week and is being treated for COVID-19.
Despite attending the gathering, he said he wasn’t sure how he contracted the virus.
“I wasn’t on the conga line. I ate by myself,” he told the Daily Eagle. “I don’t know how I got this.”
Trent originally thought he had a cold or the flu, until he lost his taste of smell.
Earlier this month, videos of the party leaked online and began circulating on social media.
In one video obtained by the Queens Daily Eagle, numerous attendees can be seen dancing in a conga line led by local city council candidate Vickie Paladino. Only one person in the video was wearing a mask – a man sitting off to the side.
The video was criticized by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also announced an investigation into the event.
The party was held at Il Bacco Ristorante in Little Neck. At the time, indoor dining was open at 25 percent capacity, and the club claims they were in compliance with state guidelines.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the Whitestone Republican Club was furious that the event attracted media and government scrutiny.
“We abided by all precautions,” they wrote. “But we are not the mask police, nor are we the social distancing police. Adults have the absolute right to make their own decisions, and clearly many chose to interact like normal humans and not paranoid zombies in hazmat suits.”
When asked whether he personally regretted attending the party, Trent said “It was a wonderful time and a great party, but I’m not happy I got sick.”
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