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Multiple Coronavirus Cases After Republican Christmas Party In New York

Several people who were at a local New York City Republican club's Christmas party have tested positive for the coronavirus after a video surfaced showing attendees celebrating indoors without masks, Queens Daily Eagle reports.

Three cases have been identified by the Eagle. These include James Trent, who has since been hospitalized.

The video of the party, hosted by the Whitestone Republican Club on Dec. 9. in Queens, N.Y., has gained 3.7 million views since being shared last week. It shows attendees dancing in a conga line with a man waving a flag that reads, "Trump 2020." The video features shows about 40 to 50 people.

Neither the Whitestone Republican Club or the restaurant that held the party have responded to NPR's request for comment.

Trent, who is chair of the Queens Village Republican Club, informed the Eagle that he became symptomatic two days after attending the party. The additional two cases are an unnamed married couple whose diagnoses the Eagle says it confirmed with three sources connected to the individuals.

Also prominent in the viral video is Republican New York City Council candidate Vickie Paladino.

The day after the video went viral on Twitter, Paladino and the Whitestone Republican Club posted the same statement on Facebook defending the party and calling it their "inalienable right under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble." The statement no longer appears on the Vickie Paladino for NYC page.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News Paladino's son and chief campaign strategist, Thomas Paladino, expressed frustration with the coverage of the event.

"It speaks very poorly of our society and our media and ourselves that an ordinary holiday party is now being made into something that we're supposed to feel ashamed of," Paladino told BuzzFeed.

"Do I regret going to the party? Maybe," he said. "Is it the party's fault? No. Life happens."

According to Johns Hopkins University, Queens County has a daily average of 1,081 cases. The state of New York has reported a record 301,000 cases in the month of December alone.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.