If someone invites you to a “COVID-19 party,” you need to run. Seriously. And believe it or not, that little absurdist nugget of practical advice might actually prove useful to you in the coming days. Because CNN reports that students in the state of Alabama — primarily in the Tuscaloosa area, home to the University of Alabama, and other colleges — are engaging in parties in which people who have the coronavirus are encouraged to attend and the first person to contract the virus wins a cash prize.
Yeesh. Sure, college is a weird place, and cringey party themes come with the territory, but we promise you that parties in which you place bets and actively try and contract a potentially deadly virus are not a normal part of the college experience. Even if you’re part of the Greek system.
Believing it to be just a rumor, Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith investigated the claim and confirmed through local doctor’s offices and the state health department that the parties appeared to be real, according to Alabama ABC affiliate ABC 33/40 News. “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.”
Speaking to CNN, City Council member Sonya McKinstry revealed that the first party attendee to contract coronavirus and get confirmation from a doctor wins the pot — made up of the money made from door entry. So not only are students in Alabama attending what sounds like the worst party in the world, they’re paying to do it. As anyone who has experienced college parties knows: the parties you have to pay always suck.
Curiously, none of the attendees of these modern Pox Parties has been interviewed yet. As of Thursday, July 2nd, Alabama currently has 39,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and almost 1,000 deaths.