In more recent news surrounding the recently severe increase in COVID-19 cases, this is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. With the coronavirus pandemic killing more than 127,000 people in the United States alone, along with so many more globally, this is one of the most insensitive incidents I’ve ever come to known. I almost wish I didn’t even know it.
Tuscaloosa is the 7th largest city in Alabama, housing the University of Alabama and a few other big universities. Among the 38,422 confirmed COVID-19 cases, Tuscaloosa County accounts for 2,049 of them, resulting in 38 deaths. On the same day that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey extended the stay-at-home orders until July 31, stating that “gyms, entertainment venues, child care facilities, and barbershops are required to follow sanitation and social distancing rules. Retail stores are allowed to open with a 50% occupancy rate,” the concept of “COVID parties” started to surface.
Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry told ABC News that students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have been having “COVID parties” as part of a horrifying game and contest to see who can catch the virus first. Upon learning of the events, she immediately informed city council members.
“They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” she explained. “They’re intentionally doing it.”
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith also expressed to the City Council that he confirmed the rumors are true, “We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” he explained while wearing a face mask himself, “We did some research. Not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information.” City Council passed an ordinance to require face masks in public after the briefing.
Although it’s not yet clear how many students have become infected because of these COVID parties, the City Council is working fast to come to a solution. Arrol Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Public Health, stated a reminder that Alabama’s “Safer at Home Order” requires COVID-19 positive patients quarantine for at least 14 days. Sheehan suggested that violating the health order is technically a misdemeanor, with fines totaling up to $500. She told ABC News, “Suspected violations of the home quarantine order should be reported to law enforcement and the local health department.”
Mckinstry added, “It’s nonsense, 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?”
I’m not sure how old you have to be to understand how truly horrible this is, but I personally don’t think it takes a wise, old genius to know why this is literally so stupid. How horrible to know that people have lost so many loved ones to this virus, but others are willing to make a fun game out of it to win some money because they’re probably bored.