Officials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama say some students are purposefully trying to infect each other by throwing “coronavirus parties.”
According to Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKistry, party organizers are intentionally inviting COVID-19 infected guests to gatherings in a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, per ABC News.
The party-goers are also reportedly putting money into a pot with the intent of giving it to the first person to test positive for the novel virus.
"They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense," McKinstry told the publication. "They're intentionally doing it."
"It makes me mad as hell that, you know, we're constantly trying to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus while they're just having a d--- party trying to spread it," she added.
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith told the City Council on Tuesday that while they initially thought it was a rumor, they confirmed the behavior.
“We did some research. Not only do the doctors' offices confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information,” he said.
ABC News reports that officials did not go into detail about what they are doing to stop the parties aside from acknowledging that they are “trying to break up any parties that we know of.”
It’s unclear if any students have been infected, but officials fear some students will be accidentally exposed by attending a party without being aware of the alarming intent.
Shortly after the briefing, the City Council passed an ordinance making face coverings in public mandatory starting on July 6.
Alabama is currently under a “Safer at Home Order,” which means anyone who tests positive must remain in quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who violates the order will be fined up to $500.
As cases spike nationwide, Alabama has seen an increase of nearly 11,000 cases in the last 14 days, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.
On Friday, the U.S. recorded more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19, the biggest daily jump since the start of the pandemic. Data shows younger people are accounting for more COVID-19 cases. Dr. Fauci stated he “would not be surprised” if cases go “up to 100,000 a day," and urged bars to shutter their doors to limit the risk of exposure.