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People are throwing COVID-19 parties and paying the first person who gets sick

Here in the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us are officially tired of being cooped up. Everyone wants to have a #hotpersonsummer, but no matter how much we crave a new adventure, most people don’t actually want that journey to include a hospital. Some college students in Alabama, apparently, have different ideas of what constitutes as fun. These young people are throwing COVID-19 parties with a payout if you get sick.

Tuscaloosa’s fire chief, Randy Smith, heard rumors about COVID-19 parties over the past few weeks in which people who are infected with the virus are encouraged to attend, CNN reported. This is the second wave of purported coronavirus parties, the first of which did turn out to be mostly conjecture.

Smith thought it might just be just another “kids these days” exaggeration, but when he investigated, what he found was even worse than the rumor. Not only were people currently infected with COVID-19 invited to attend parties, but other partygoers were offered a payout if they were the first to become infected with the virus. Smith immediately reported the situation to the Tuscaloosa city council.

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"The doctors' offices confirm it," Tuscaloosa city councilwoman Sonya McKinstry said in a statement to CNN. Officials aren’t sure how many people may have contracted COVID-19 as a result of these parties, but Alabama has reported about 39,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 1,000 deaths to date. "It makes me furious," McKinstry said. "Furious [about 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."

Curious about how the payout works? Yeah, me too. Apparently, the organizers sell tickets to the party, and the first person who is confirmed infected by a doctor wins the proceeds, CNN reported. Tuscaloosa officials aren’t sure exactly how many of these COVID-19 competitions have taken place, but McKinsey said that the city is working to get the word out about the parties to get them to shut down and is trying to pass a city-wide ordinance requiring people to wear masks inside.