University students in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Organize “COVID parties” where they invite people infected with the coronavirus and bet on who will get sick first, according to city officials.
Tuscaloosa City Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry said ABC News On Wednesday, students in and around the city celebrated the festivities as part of a game to intentionally transmit the virus that has infected nearly 2.7 million people in the US and left more than 128,000 dead, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
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“They put money in a pot and try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It doesn’t make sense, “McKinstry told ABC.” They’re doing it on purpose. “
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On Tuesday, Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith told city officials that the fire service found that students who knew they were COVID-19 positive were attending parties in the city for the past few weeks. Smith said he believed it was a rumor.
“In the past few weeks we have seen parties in the county, or throughout the city and county in various places where students or children would come with known positive. At first we thought it was a rumor … we did some additional research. The doctor’s offices not only helped confirm it, but the state confirmed that they also had the same information, ”Smith told city council members Tuesday.
It is unclear whether the COVID-19 positive students infected someone.
“We are trying to break up any party we know of,” McKinstry told ABC. “But I think when it comes to the mindsets of people who intentionally do things like that and are intentionally spreading them, how can they really fight something that people are constantly trying to promote?”
The University of Alabama is the largest university in the city, but city officials did not mention the university by name. There are several other universities in the city, which is the seventh largest in Alabama.
Alabama has confirmed more than 40,000 cases and 985 deaths, according to the state department of health.
Since the outbreak began, there have been rumors about people celebrating so-called coronavirus parties, including in Washington state, where the state health department issued a warning against such behavior in early May.
But some experts have warned to digest such cases with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Urban folklorist Benjamin Radford recently recounted that Rolling Stone’s stories about coronavirus parties are probably not true.
“They are a variation on older urban legends of disease, such as the ‘bug hunter’ stories of people trying to get AIDS,” Radford told Rolling Stone, referring to media stories that began circulating in early the AIDS epidemic.
Currently, the United States is experiencing an increase in cases. On Wednesday, more than 52,000 cases were reported, the highest total in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
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