Indoor Christmas parties seem like a bad idea in the age of COVID-19, especially if revelers form a conga line to the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” in the middle of the party. Now, a man who attended the Dec. 9 event—which went viral via Twitter 10 days ago—is hospitalized with COVID-19.
The video from journalist Matt Binder, shared from his Twitter account Dec. 21, shows attendees from the Whitestone Republican Club in close proximity to each other as the Christmas party relaxed any notion of social distancing.
Far-right activist Vicky Paladino, reportedly planning a New York City Council run, is one of the maskless party-goers showcased in Binder's tweet. (She barges into the front of the conga line about the 25-second mark of the video.)
The Queens Daily Eagle reported Wednesday that James Trent, chair of the Queens Village Republican Club, attended the party and is now at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He reported coronavirus symptoms just two days after attending the party.
The Eagle noted that Trent said he was surprised that he got COVID after attending the party because he “wasn’t doing anything risky.”
“I wasn’t on the conga line. I ate by myself,” he said. “I don’t know how I got this."
(The video shows the conga line snaking around tables in the Il Bacco Ristorante in Queens' Little Neck neighborhood.)
He also was asked whether he regretted attending the party, and said it was an “interesting question,” telling the Eagle's reporter, "It was a wonderful time and a great party, but I’m not happy I got sick," he said.
The Eagle also reported that another couple who attended the event contracted COVID-19, according to sources who know the couple, but the couple themselves would not go on record with the newspaper confirming their condition.
The group responded testily on Facebook to media coverage surrounding the event on Dec. 22, noting, "the media is freaking out because we dared to celebrate the holidays in a perfectly ordinary and unremarkable way -- with a gathering of friends and family. We're now getting calls from the New York Times, Gothamist, the Washington Post and other outlets asking for our comments. On a holiday party. Let that sink in."
They went on to say, "Our idiot mayor and even King Cuomo himself have commented on it, which is just absolutely hilarious for so many reasons. The fact that the two most powerful people in the state are talking about our little party speaks volumes about their priorities, as well as how hypersensitive they are to even the slightest threat to the dictatorial authority they crave."
They went on to assert, "We abided by all precautions. 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. This is for some reason controversial to the people who believe it's their job to tell us all what to do."
The Daily Dot has reached out to the Whitestone Republican Club for comment.