College students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama are throwing “COVID-19 parties,” where attendees compete to see who can be infected with the virus the fastest.
The competition works like this: Young people congregate and encourage friends who have tested positive with COVID-19 to attend the party. Everyone at the party contributes money to a pot. Then, the attendee who tests positive with COVID-19 the fastest after the party wins the money.
Fire Chief Randy Smith told the Tuscaloosa City Council the department has identified several of these parties in the city and the surrounding areas, according to ABC News.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” Smith said. “We did some research. Not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”
Officials did not confirm what school the students attended or if they would be reprimanded, according to the Associated Press, but the University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa.
City Council member Sonya McKinstry told CNN that she urges Tuscaloosa citizens to do everything they can to save as many lives as possible.
“It makes me furious,” McKinstry said. “Furious to the fact that something that is so serious and deadly is being taken for granted. Not only is it irresponsible, but you could contract the virus and take it home to your parents or grandparents.”
At a meeting on June 30, the Tuscaloosa City Council passed an ordinance requiring face coverings in public. That goes into effect on July 6.
“This is not political. This is a public health issue. People are dying and there is no cure. We have to do whatever we can to save as many lives as possible,” McKinstry said.
Arrol Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Public Health, told ABC News that the state’s “Safer at Home Order” explicitly says that people who test positive should quarantine at home for 14 days or they will be fined up to $500.
According to ABC News, 2,049 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tuscaloosa County, and 38 people have died. The state of Alabama has more than 40,000 cases, as of July 2.
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