Against the advice of the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and just about everybody on the Internet that we need to limit in-person social interactions, a group of people in Kentucky got together and had a "coronavirus party", according to Governor Andy Beshear. Now one of the individuals has been confirmed to have the virus, he told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The partygoers were in their twenties, though the Governor gave no details about how many had been in attendance at the party.
"We still have folks that aren't following the recommendations, and that ultimately hurts all of us. We have a positive case today from someone who attended a coronavirus party. And this is the part where I – the person that tells everyone else to be calm – have to remain calm myself," the Governor said at the conference.
"Because anyone who goes to something like this may think that they are indestructible, but it's someone else's loved one that they are going to hurt. We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents and don't be so callous as to intentionally go to something and expose yourself to something that can kill other people. We ought to be much better than that."
Beshear urged others to make sure no such parties take place again.
"We all owe each other a duty to protect each other, and we simply can't have folks that are doing things like this. So this is one that I hope I never have to report on again. This is something that no-one should be doing across the commonwealth."
The virus has been more severe in patients over 60, but the young are not immune from the worst effects of the virus, which has killed over 19,000 people since the outbreak began. Whether they get severely ill or remain symptomless, partygoers could also pass the virus on to other people who could get severely ill.
"Normal flu, if I get it, I'm going to infect on average, about 1.3, 1.4 people. And if those 1.3, 1.4 people gave it to the next lot, that's the second time it gets passed on. By the time that's happened 10 times, I've been responsible for about 14 cases of flu," intensive care specialist Professor Hugh Montgomery explained in a video for Channel 4 Dispatches.
"This coronavirus is very, very infectious. So every person passes it to three. Now that doesn't sound like much of a difference, but if each of those three passes it to three, and that happens at 10 layers, I have been responsible for infecting 59,000 people."
"This [case] makes me mad and it should make you mad, but ultimately – the power of forgiveness – we should forgive that person," Beshear continued. "But no more of these. Anywhere. Statewide. Ever. For any reason."
The motive of the partygoers remains unclear. If it was similar in nature to chickenpox parties (themselves an outdated practice when a vaccine is available), this would be a terrible idea, especially given the virus is potentially lethal. It's also unclear whether people who recover from the novel coronavirus are immune to reinfection and, if so, how long that immunity lasts.