U.S. students throw coronavirus parties to see who gets sick first — and the 'winner' gets money

A disturbing new trend has hit a group of young students in Alabama: COVID-19 parties.

The parties are a competition where people, who know they are sick with the highly contagious respiratory virus, attend parties and bet on who gets sick first.

City Council member Sonya McKinstry told CNN that the parties are mainly being held in Tuscaloosa. Infected people are encouraged to show up so others can contract the virus on purpose, she explained.

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The first person confirmed by a doctor to be sick with the virus from attending the party wins the money made from ticket sales, McKinstry said.

“They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID,” she told ABC News.

“Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense.”

“It makes me furious,” McKinstry told CNN. “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.”

Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith said the students had been attending these parties over the past few weeks, WBMA-TV reports.

“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,” Smith said in a Tuesday briefing.

“We thought that was kind of a rumour at first,” he continued. “We did some research — not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”

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As of Thursday, Alabama had more than 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“This is not political,” McKinstry told CNN. “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.”

An hour after the briefing on Tuesday, ABC News reports, the city council unanimously passed a requirement for all people to wear face coverings when out in public.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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