As coronavirus cases continue to rise, a new trend — “COVID parties” — is making matters worse. This dangerous practice is becoming a trend across the nation.
This week, local officials in Alabama report that young people, including college students, are hosting “COVID parties.” The intention of the party would be to invite someone (or multiple people) who already have tested positive to the coronavirus, and whoever contracts the fatal virus from them wins money.
On June 30, Tuscaloosa, Alabama Fire Chief Randy Smith discussed the shocking trend during a Tuscaloosa city council meeting, saying that his team researched the situation after more young people were admitted to the hospital with the virus.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” said Smith, who is heading the city of Tuscaloosa’s Incident Command team in response to the coronavirus, according to USA Today. “We did some additional research. Not only did the doctors’ offices help confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”
In an interview with ABC News, Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said that young people would prove they contracted COVID-19 by showing their friends a doctor’s note. The winner would get the money collected at the party.
“They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” McKinstry said. “They’re intentionally doing it.“
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Officials in Alabama did not disclose information about the individuals involved or how many people had been infected. On June 29, Alabama, according to the New York Times, reported their most significant spike with 1,734 new cases. As of today, Alabama has had 38,962 cases of coronavirus, and 972 people have died.
Elsewhere in the country, people continue to host house parties despite violating state laws about large gatherings, which have led to multiple groups of people getting COVID-19.
Officials in Rockland County, New York reported that on June 17, people got COVID-19 at a house party. The event had at least 100 guests, which violated state laws about the limit to social gatherings, may not have had the same intention as the “covid party” in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. However, at least one guest did show symptoms and attended the party anyway. He tested positive for COVID-19 later, and other guests did so as well. Rockland County also said some of these infected guests attended other parties in the area around the same time.
In June, a California resident that had contracted coronavirus attended a party. He said he went because he wasn’t showing symptoms and did not think he could infect other people. He was wrong. Thomas Macias, a 51-year-old truck driver, who had been quarantined because he was a high-risk individual, attended the party after some restrictions had been lifted. Macias ended up getting sick and dying.
On June 30, Macias disclosed on Facebook that he had gotten coronavirus putting those around him in danger. He wrote that he felt remorseful about socializing, knowing the risks.
“Some of you may know, but most don’t,” he wrote. “I … went out a couple of weeks ago [and contracted the coronavirus] Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy. This has been a very painful experience. Hopefully, with God’s help, I’ll be able to survive this.”
Macias died a day after he posted that note.
On June 18, a woman in Washington D.C. hosted a secret up-scale fundraiser in her backyard. She later tested positive for COVID-19, and some of her guests did so as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that people should not attend gatherings where there are more than ten people and where 6-feet apart cannot be enforced.