Alabama students throw 'coronavirus parties' to win money prize: 'Whoever gets Covid-19 first wins the pot'
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA: Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who are already infected with Covid-19 are reportedly deliberately attending parties in the city as part of an alarming contest to see who can contract the coronavirus first. Speaking to ABC News, Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry revealed that some students have been organizing "Covid-19 parties" or "coronavirus parties" to intentionally get infected with the virus that has already claimed 127,000 lives in the United States. She has since informed the city council of said parties occurring across the city.
According to her, organizers of such parties are specifically inviting guests who are diagnosed with Covid-19. Most members at the party may or may not be aware of the "unknown infected guests". "They put money in a pot and they try to get Covid-19. Whoever gets Covid-19 first wins the pot. It makes no sense," McKinstry said. "They're intentionally doing it." The students' careless behavior was confirmed by Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith on Tuesday. Smith raised concerns during a briefing to the City Council about a number of parties held in recent weeks throughout the city and adjacent areas in Tuscaloosa County "where students, or kids, would come in with known positive."
"We thought that was kind of a rumor at first," Smith told council members. "We did some research. Not only do the doctors' offices confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information." However, Smith did not reveal what steps were being taken to prevent such parties or the schools where the students were from.
As reported by ABC, Tuscaloosa is the seventh-largest city in Alabama with several colleges including The University of Alabama. The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance mandating face masks in public just hours after the briefing. That said, it's not clear if the COVID-diagnosed students infected others at the parties they attended.
In a statement to ABC News, city spokesman Richard Rush said that the city "is currently working with local agencies and organizations to ensure that we do everything in our power to fight this pandemic." However, City Councilor McKinstry is worried unsuspecting people will attend such parties and be exposed to the contagion. "We're trying to break up any parties that we know of," she told ABC News. "It's nonsense," McKinstry continued. "But I think when you're dealing with the mind frame of people who are intentionally doing stuff like that and they're spreading it intentionally, how can you truly fight something that people are constantly trying to promote?"
Alabama Department of Public Health spokesperson Arrol Sheehan noted how the state's "Safer at Home Order" clearly states those who test positive "shall be quarantined to their place of residence for a period of 14 days." She stressed that violation of the order is a "misdemeanor and fines for each violation can be up to $500." "Suspected violations of the home quarantine order should be reported to law enforcement and the local health department," she said in a statement to ABC News.
Alabama has recorded over 38,000 Covid-19 cases with more than 900 deaths as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by the state Department of Public Health.