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Doctors sound the alarm over "COVID parties"

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Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-18 14:39:56-04

Doctors have issued a warning after people have reportedly started attending COVID parties where they try to see if they can get the virus.

Some local officials say parties seem to be hosted by people who knew they were infected or attendees trying to get infected.

"When I hear about these COVID parties, it just, you know, makes my head spin. Because when you get infected, what you're doing is you're not in a vacuum. You are part of the propagation of the outbreak," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

A doctor in San Antonio put out a videotaped message last week about a 30-year-old patient at her hospital who she says admitted to attending a COVID party.

"This is a party held by somebody diagnosed with the COVID virus," said Dr. Jane Appleby, Chief Medical Officer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. "And the thought is, that people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected. Just before the patient died, they looked at their nurse, and they said, 'I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it's not.'"

The Mayor of San Antonio confirmed that case in an interview with CNN.

"They thought they were invincible, that this wouldn't affect them.. As a way, you know, to prove their point. And unfortunately five days later-- this was a Memorial Day party at the lake-- five days later, this young man got sick," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

Officials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama also spoke about information they had received on young people apparently throwing COVID parties in that city.

Sonya Mckinstry, a Tuscaloosa city council member relayed accounts of contests saying, "They're putting money in a pot, and they purposely try to get COVID from the person who has COVID, and apparently whoever gets COVID first gets the pot."

Health officials in Alabama and San Antonio told CNN they investigated the reports, but could neither confirm nor deny the existence of COVID parties in their areas.

While younger people appear to be at a lesser risk of severe illness or death from coronavirus, one expert says there's a greater risk.

"They may infect their parents or their grandparents or their teachers or their employer- who might be over the age of 65, who might have an underlying condition, and they will die. I can't think of anything more stupid than to go to a COVID party," said Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.