The students were in violation of self-quarantine guidelines set for those who test positive
A city council claimed in an interview with ABC News that students recently diagnosed with Coronavirus contracted the disease by attending parties to see who would get infected first "as a contest." Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said that young people were hosting "Coronavirus parties" as a game to infect each other on purpose.
She had recently learned of these parties and immediately informed the rest of the council. "They put money in a pot and they try to get [the illness]. Whoever gets [it] first gets the pot. It makes no sense," the Councilor explained. "They're intentionally doing it."
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith has since confirmed McKinstry's statements. During a briefing with the City Council, he expressed his concerns about parties held in recent weeks throughout the city and in surrounding areas of Tuscaloosa County. "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," he shared. "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."
He did not state what was currently being done in order to prevent the parties from being organized.
Richard Rush, a city spokesman, claimed, "[The city] is currently working with local agencies and organizations to ensure that we do everything in our power to fight this pandemic."
At present, there are over 38,000 confirmed cases of the disease in the state of Alabama alone. Noting that the young people were ignoring the guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to self-quarantine for two weeks, Council McKinstry added, "We're trying to break up any parties that we know of... It's nonsense. But I think when you're dealing with the mind frame of people who are intentionally doing stuff like that and they're spreading it intentionally, how can you truly fight something that people are constantly trying to promote?"
Alabama state officials confirm that a group of college students took bets on and intentionally spread COVID-19, and at least 8 cases are linked to a house party in a New York City suburb. @ErielleReshef has the story. https://t.co/JtjzaCVAoG pic.twitter.com/RzLtQA8N2r— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 2, 2020
The news about the parties came to the fore the same day Alabama Governor Kay Ivey extended orders to stay at home. Arrol Sheehan, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Public Health, reaffirmed the order's requirements, explicitly stating that those who test positive are to be compulsorily "quarantined to their place of residence for a period of 14 days." She declared in a statement, "Suspected violations of the home quarantine order should be reported to law enforcement and the local health department."
The Governor also reiterated this at a news conference: "Personal responsibility means it is everyone's responsibility. If we continue going in the wrong direction, and our hospitals are not able to handle the capacity of patients, then we're going to reserve the right to come back in and reverse course."