AP Top Stories March 20 P – Yahoo News
The Daily Beast
Mar-a-Lago Hosted Wild Parties Just Before Its COVID Outbreak. And It’s Not Stopping.
InstagramDonald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club is dealing with a coronavirus outbreak. But that doesn’t mean the parties stop.On Sunday, the club will host a 500-person fundraiser for a childrens’ charity—complete with vintage cars, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and “everybody playing by the pool,” according to Palm Beach realtor Valentina Aved, who helped organize the event.The $375-a-head, invite-only party benefitting Place of Hope is sold out, Aved says, and nobody seems concerned about the outbreak.“It will be a very exciting event. The most beautiful cars, people, good friends,” she told The Daily Beast. The charity’s Instagram likewise promised “hundreds of historic cars on display, live entertainment, a fashion show, brunch and more!” It does not mention coronavirus precautions. The party’s website references “sanitization stations” and “room for social distancing” once.The event will be held outdoors after multiple infections forced the club’s dining room and beachside venue to close. In an email to members, first reported by the Associated Press, Mar-a-Lago said, “some of our staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19” but promised “all appropriate response measures” were being taken. Affected areas were being sanitized and some workers were quarantining, but banquet and event services remain open, it said. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Valentina Deva (@realtorvalentina) Aved, who goes by Valentina Deva on Instagram, told The Daily Beast that two kitchen staff members had tested positive. She was at Mar-a-Lago last week during two wild fundraiser events put on for a dog charity, Big Dog Ranch Rescue, chaired by Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump. Usually the annual gala—almost always held at Trump properties—attracts at least 800 people, but, due to COVID-19, organizers split the event into two bashes of about 500 people across two days.Aved insisted everyone wore masks and tried their best to social distance—“maybe not six feet, but at least three feet apart”—in the Grand Ballroom.But dozens of photos and videos from the event show almost no attendees wearing masks, and women screaming and crowding around one another to take photos.In one video from the event posted by Miami philanthropist Angela Bird, a topless male model walked down a catwalk as mask-less woman screamed and cheered at nearby tables.The events, complete with dog shows and an auction, reportedly raised $1.4 million. Neither Place of Hope, Big Dog Ranch Rescue, nor Mar-a-Lago responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment about precautions taken. Instagram/Angela Birdman Bird, who is on the charity’s board of directors, told The Daily Beast she hadn’t heard of “one single person who has tested positive from attending that event.” She said masks were given out upon entry, and everyone was asked to wear them until seated.Lara Trump attended the fundraiser as well. Donald Trump himself showed up midway through, telling the crowd he heard their raucous noises from the golf course and came to “check out what you are doing,” according to Aved.Trump was seen hugging people as a mostly mask-free crowd took photos and chanted, “We love you, we love you.”In other videos from the past week, Melania Trump was seen joining her husband in a dining area, mobbed by more mask-free patrons.The former first family moved to Mar-a-Lago permanently after leaving the White House in January. Donald and Melania were there on Friday preparing for their son Barron’s 15th birthday when the outbreak became public, according to CNN. View this post on Instagram A post shared by F A R R A H A B R A H A M (@farrahabraham) View this post on Instagram A post shared by Vanessa Vinci (@vanessavincistyle) View this post on Instagram A post shared by @michaelsolakiewicz Aved said she checked up on her friends in light of the club’s positive cases. Some had returned to Miami, others to New York, where incoming travelers are supposed to quarantine or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result. None of them were feeling ill, she said. Florida state Rep. Omari Hardy, a Democrat, asked Palm Beach County to shut down Mar-a-Lago in January after a New Year’s Eve bash there attracted hundreds of mask-less partygoers. The county sent a stern letter to the club warning that it had violated county codes and could be fined $15,000. Hardy said the Florida House had passed a COVID-19 liability bill that will give businesses like Mar-a-Lago immunity despite irresponsible behavior. He tweeted Friday night: “The workers don’t deserve this.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.