Whoever contracts the coronavirus first, wins. That seems to be the objective for some Alabama college students, who are reportedly organizing “COVID parties,” and purposely bringing together large groups of people and inviting those who were diagnosed with the virus, Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said.
"They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot," McKinstry said. "It makes no sense. They're intentionally doing it."
While the bizarre trend appeared to start as a rumor, Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith also confirmed this was in fact the case. “We did some research. Not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information,” he told council members, according to ABC News.
It is not clear what is being done to specifically curb the behavior, but the City Council passed an ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings while in public.
Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama, as well as several other institutes of higher learning.
Separately, eight people in a New York county who refused to comply with contact tracers after attending a party connected to a COVID-19 cluster have answered officials seeking to contain the spread of the deadly virus after being compelled by court order to do so.
Subpoenas went out Wednesday afternoon after the Rockland County Health Department found those eight West Nyack party goers uncooperative with contact tracers, despite nine coronavirus cases originating from that get together. Six of the people had responded by the end of the day and two others on Thursday, county spokesman John Lyon told Rockland/Westchester Journal News. They had faced a fine of up to $2,000 for every day they did not comply with the court order.
The nine people confirmed to have contracted the virus have not had to be hospitalized, but the severity of their symptoms were not otherwise clear. The party was thrown by someone already symptomatic, officials said.
COVID-19 has so far killed more than 127,000 people in the United States, and threatens far more lives as confirmed cases begin to steadily rise again, while at the same time, some states continue planning to re-open their economies.