Anyone who’s been following news coverage of the ‘spike’ in Wuhan coronavirus cases over the past few weeks knows how breathlessly the media has been in following any and every possible sign that Donald Trump is trying to kill off America’s grandmas. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when rumors started swirling that college kids in the deep-red state of Alabama weren’t taking the virus all that seriously — in fact, they were trying to catch the thing for cold, hard cash! On Friday, the Associated Press spread the “news” of this risky behavior far and wide:
Several college students in an Alabama city organized “COVID-19” parties as a contest to see who would get the virus first, officials said.
Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students hosted the parties to intentionally infect each other with the new coronavirus, news outlets reported.
McKinstry said party organizers purposely invited guests who tested positive for COVID-19. She said the students put money in a pot and whoever got COVID first would get the cash….
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith confirmed the incidents to the City Council Tuesday.
The department thought the parties were rumors but Smith said after some research, the department found out the parties were real.
“We did some research. Not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information,” Smith said.
Smith didn’t say whether actions would be taken against the students. He also didn’t say which schools the students attend.
For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the “schools” in Tuscaloosa, AL, here’s a short primer before we get down to the nitty gritty.
Just two, 4-year universities are located in the city proper: Stillman College and the University of Alabama (UA). The first one is a private, Christian school, with a student body of about 800, as of April 2020, while behemoth state school UA has about 37,000.
So, it’s a fair bet that the rumors about reckless, “let’s see if we can catch the Chinese plague” parties were meant to point to UA students. There’s just one problem: it never happened.
The school writes, in part:
We have been aware for weeks of the rumors about COVID parties. We conducted a thorough investigation, and although we have been unable to identify any students who may have participated in these types of activities, we will continue to follow up on any information we receive and educate our students about essential precautions. Our students want a return to on-campus instruction and the extracurricular opportunities they enjoy, and we fully expect them to safeguard their personal health and safety and that of everyone at the university and in our city.
Now, for completeness, I looked into one other, possible school in Tuscaloosa, which is a 2-year college. Shelton State Community College, which is about four miles from downtown, has 3,000 full-time students, and there’s no mention of the rumors on their homepage. In fact, there’s so little concern about the virus that there’s been no update on COVID-19 since April.
Then to be thorough, I researched two, nearby schools: Montevallo and Judson universities. A quick check of the former’s coronavirus information and news bulletins page showed no statement on the rumors about students. The school is located in Montevallo, AL, in any case. Nor was there an update at Judson in Marion, AL. Both schools are located just over 40 miles from downtown Tuscaloosa, according to Study.com.
So, you might be asking yourself, “Wait, didn’t I hear that there were parties like this back in the beginning of the U.S. outbreak?” There might have been, as my colleague Alex Parker reported in late March. But the fact is, as far as the Alabama rumors go, they’re a total wipeout for the haters on the left. There’s no “there” there.
Note: All statistics on the schools mentioned in this article come from Study.com.