Despite testing positive for Covid-19 several times ahead of a trial in her defamation lawsuit against The New York Times, Sarah Palin – the former Republican governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate – has not isolated, against public health guidance.
Ms Palin – who is also not vaccinated – dined outdoors at two New York City restaurants this week after her diagnosis on 24 January.
She also dined indoors at an Upper East Side Italian restaurant two days earlier, despite the city’s requirements that customers show proof of vaccination to eat indoors.
In a statement to Gothamist, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams “encouraged any New Yorker who came into contact with Ms Palin to get tested, just as we encourage all New Yorkers to get tested regularly, especially those who believe they may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19.”
For nearly two years through the course of the public health crisis, health officials and doctors have repeatedly urged people who are infected with Covid-19 to isolate at home.
The latest guidance from the New York City Department of Health says people who test positive “must stay home … for at least five days from when their symptoms began or, if they had no symptoms, from their test date.”
As jury selection was set to begin in a Manhattan federal courtroom on Monday morning in her years-long case against the newspaper, US District Court Judge Jed Rakoff told the court that Ms Palin “is, of course, unvaccinated”.
Following positive results from three rapid antigen tests on Monday morning, Judge Rakoff moved the start of the trial to 3 February.
The following night, she was spotted dining outdoors at old-school Italian restaurant Campagnola.
“It’ll be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot,” Ms Palin announced at the right-wing conference AmericaFest 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona last month. “I will not do that. I won’t do it, and they better not touch my kids either.”
On Saturday, Ms Palin was spotted dining indoors at the storied Upper East Side Italian restaurant Elio’s, which did not ask for proof that she has been vaccinated.
Management conceded that it was a mistake to let her inside the restaurant, a prime draw for celebrities and public figures. Ms Palin reportedly dined with a longtime guest, for which the restaurant does not typically ask repeatedly for proof of vaccination.
But she returned to the restaurant to eat outdoors on Wednesday night.
In a statement, Elio’s manager Luca Guaitolini said Ms Palin return “to apologize for the fracas around her previous visit.”
“In accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect our staff, we seated her outdoors,” he said. “We are a restaurant open to the public, and we treat civilians the same.”
Ms Palin’s trial arrives nearly four years after she filed a libel lawsuit against The New York Times over an editorial incorrectly linking a 2011 shooting of congresswoman Gabby Giffords to a map circulated by Ms Palin’s political action committee that circled Democratic districts with crosshairs.
The newspaper, where the opinion section is independent of the newsroom, quickly corrected the error and apologised to Ms Palin, who has accused the newspaper and then-editorial board editor James Bennet of knowingly publishing false information.
The column was published the day after a gunman fired on a group of Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, in June 2017.
Ms Palin has sought a jury trial, at which her attorneys have said she wishes to be present.
The lawsuit was initially dismissed after Judge Rakoff found that her allegations failed to show a newspaper knew it was publishing false statements with “actual malice”.
That decision was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Ms Palin – the former vice presidential nominee alongside GOP presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 – is seeking unspecified damages. She estimates $421,000 in damages to her reputation, according to court filings.
The case is expected to test the precedent-setting US Supreme Court decision in The New York Times vs Sullivan , which found that public officials must prove “actual malice” when a defamatory error is published.
According to jury questionnaires published by the court, potential jurors will be asked whether they have opinions of Ms Palin, The New York Times, gun control and the Second Amendment, and whether they are familiar with the 2011 shooting in Arizona, know someone who has been a victim of gun violence, and how they get their news.
The question central to the jury’s decision is whether they believe The New York Times knowingly published a defamatory statement, “meaning the statement tended to expose the plaintiff to public hatred, contempt, ridicule or disgrace,” according to jury instructions.