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A New York resident has been hospitalized with COVID-19 after attending a Republican holiday party that went viral this month.
James Trent, chair of the affiliated Queens Village Republican Club, told the Queens Daily Eagle, he began experiencing flu-like symptoms just two days after attending the indoor, maskless Christmas party hosted by the Whitestone Republican Club. The event, which was held at Il Bacco restaurant in Queens, made headlines after a video of attendees forming a conga line began circulating on social media. Many slammed the GOP club for failing to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, such as social distancing and face coverings.
Trent told the Eagle he was surprised when he received a positive test result, as he was sure he "wasn't doing anything risky."
"I wasn’t on the conga line. I ate by myself," he explained from his room at the North Shore University Hospital. "I don’t know how I got this ... It was a wonderful time and a great party, but I’m not happy I got sick."
Trent said he was in stable condition and expected to be released sometime on Thursday. It's unclear if he contracted the virus at the party or was already infected before attending.
According to the outlet, another unidentified couple who attended the party has also tested positive for coronavirus; however, the husband has not responded to the Eagle's request for comment.
The party took place on Dec. 9, just days before New York suspended in-door dining. At the time of the event, New York eateries were allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity. The state had also limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer; the annual celebration reportedly had at least 50 attendees.
In response to the backlash, the Queens Village Republican Club shared a Facebook post defending the event.
"Yes, we held a holiday party. A good time was had by all. We abided by all precautions. But we are not the mask police, nor are we the social distancing police," the post read, "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. This is for some reason controversial to the people who believe it's their job to tell us all what to do."
Il Bacco's liquor license was revoked in response to the party, Patch reports. State officials called the event a "potential superspreader holiday party" following an investigation.