Authorities in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, are livid after learning that some college students are throwing "COVID parties" where the goal is to get infected with the coronavirus. The party organizers purposely invite people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and then collect money from the guests. The money is put into a pot, and the first person to contract the coronavirus receives the cash.
"They put money in a pot, and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense," City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said. "They're intentionally doing it."
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith told members of the City Council that officials thought the parties were just a rumor at first but confirmed that people who tested positive had attended the gatherings.
"We had seen over the last few weeks parties going on in the county, or throughout the city and county in several locations where students or kids would come in with known positives. We thought that was kind of a rumor at first....we did some additional research....not only did the doctor's offices help confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information," Smith said.
McKinstry blasted the students for putting people at risk.
"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."
It is not known if any cases of COVID-19 have been traced back to the parties.
Officials did not say how they plan to deal with the parties but did point out that violating the state's "Safer at Home Order" is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $500.
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