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Young people attended a ‘coronavirus party’ in Kentucky, governor says. At least one reveler is now infected.

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 3/25/2020 Allyson Chiu
a man holding a sign posing for the camera: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) speaks at a coronavirus news conference Tuesday. © Screengrab via YouTube/Gov. Andy Beshear Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) speaks at a coronavirus news conference Tuesday.

As the novel coronavirus continues to sweep across the United States, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) suggested a list of dos and don’ts for residents during a news conference Tuesday.

Do: Follow public health recommendations on social distancing. Help provide meals to needy communities. Donate medical supplies if possible.

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Don’t: Host or attend a “coronavirus party.”

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Amid an ongoing global pandemic, Beshear’s “don’t” may seem like an obvious instruction. But on Tuesday, the governor found himself having to explicitly tell people to stop taking part in such events after one reveler tested positive for covid-19. 

The governor did not identify the individual, who is among the state’s 39 new coronavirus cases, but said the partygoers consisted of people in their 20s, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

“This is the part where I, the person that tells everybody to be calm, have to remain calm myself,” Beshear said at a news conference. “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.

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It wasn’t clear who, aside from Beshear, called the gathering a “coronavirus party.” The label used by the governor likely applies to any party-like event taking place during the outbreak at which attendees may be mingling in close quarters.

The “coronavirus party” in Kentucky is the latest instance of young people openly defying federal health guidelines intended to slow the spread of the virus that has so far sickened at least 54,000 people in the U.S., causing 783 deaths. In recent weeks, officials in cities nationwide have struggled to rein in youthful partyers, who are largely ignoring the seriousness of the ongoing pandemic in favor of having a good time.

That kind of behavior cannot stand in Kentucky, where the number of confirmed cases has reached 163 with four dead, Beshear said Tuesday.

“We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents,” he said. “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.”

While research has shown that covid-19 poses a greater risk for people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have underlying health conditions, the virus can still infect healthy people of all ages. And even though young people may be more likely to contract a mild case with few to no symptoms, if they aren’t careful, they can end up unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.

Unlike other states, Kentucky isn’t under an official “shelter in place” order. Instead, Beshear has shuttered schools and nonessential businesses, encouraging people to stay indoors as part of an initiative he calls, “healthy at home.”

“That doesn’t mean boarded in your home,” he told reporters at a Sunday briefing. “It means you still, no matter where we go, will be able to get your essentials out in the community, and it also means you’ll be able to get out and get the type of exercise that you need.”

Beshear did not provide details on Tuesday of when and where the “coronavirus party” took place and how many people were present or what happened at the event. The governor only noted that he hoped he would never have to report on a similar gathering again.

“This is one that makes me mad and it should make you mad,” he said, later adding, “We should forgive that person, but no more of these anywhere, statewide, ever for any reason.”

On social media, news of the “coronavirus party” was equally upsetting for many.

At least one person suggested alternative social activities.

“Try virtual happy hours with your friends, or download Words With Friends and play it til you hate everyone you once liked,” the person tweeted. “Do anything but have a damn coronavirus party.”

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