In news that could not be more quintessentially Alabama, CNN reports that some young people in Tuscaloosa are holding coronavirus parties in order to purposely infect themselves with the virus. Truthfully, not a single word in that sentence surprised me, except maybe the fact that Florida was not involved. Congrats guys, it wasn’t you this time!
In a presentation to City Council members, Fire Chief Randy Smith explained that there is a trend amongst young people in Tuscaloosa where they’re throwing ticketed parties to catch coronavirus, and the first person to get a confirmed positive test wins a payout from the ticket sales. So this is like a coronavirus party-meets-pyramid scheme. Great! Council Member Sonya McKinstry said that there have been several parties in Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas in the past few weeks, and they confirmed with doctor’s offices that these are actually real. And this is why we can’t have nice things (and why other countries are literally banning us).
The city is reportedly working on breaking up these parties, and also passed a mask ordinance that will go into effect on Monday. It will require adults and children over the age of 8 (parents will have discretion with children aged 2-8) to wear face masks in all public places, including inside businesses, on public transportation, and at outdoor gatherings with 10 or more people. It will be in effect for at least the next 30 days, and those who violate the law face a $25 fine.
Though it seems like a special breed of stupid, the idea of hosting a gathering with the express purpose of exposing guests to a virus is not actually new. Beginning in the 1970s and 80s, parents would set up “chickenpox parties” for their children in the hopes that they would contract chickenpox sooner rather than later. Today, however, the CDC “strongly recommends against hosting or participating in these events,” urging parents that the chickenpox is a serious disease that can cause severe complications and even death, even in healthy children (hmm, where have I heard this before?). The CDC adds that since there’s no way to tell how severe a child’s symptoms will be, “it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child to someone with the disease.”
While for most people, the CDC says, one-time exposure to chickenpox grants immunity for life, when it comes to COVID-19, we’re really not sure yet, which makes having these immunity parties extra dangerous. According to Mayo Clinic, “It isn’t yet clear if infection with the COVID-19 virus makes a person immune to future infection.” We also don’t know yet if having the antibodies protects someone from re-infection. Dr. Dyan Hes, founder of Gramercy Pediatrics, tells Betches, “Currently, we really do not know if there is COVID-19 immunity at all.” Cool cool cool cool cool. While some people who contract the virus do get antibodies, she says, “Studies show that many patients lose their COVID-19 specific IgG antibodies within weeks to months after their infection. Other studies show that patients with mild infection or asymptomatic patients never mounted an IgG response with antibodies.”
And just to scare you even further, Dr. Hes adds, “We do not know if the antibodies are protective, and this is a problem. Many people who have antibodies assume that they cannot be susceptible to the virus again,” but this is not necessarily true. She advises, “The moral of the story is that everyone should still be wearing a face mask, follow social distancing guidelines, hand wash frequently, and use hand sanitizer when washing is not an option.”
But, I hate to have to break this to you, it’s not only Alabama. The New York Times reported that on June 17, well after large gatherings were banned, a group of about 100 people attended a party in Rockland County, NY. (In fact, the state order at the time limited gatherings to 10 people.) The host of the party apparently showed symptoms of being sick at the time of the event and, along with eight guests, later tested positive for COVID-19.
Rockland County officials deployed contact tracers to see who else may have been exposed at the party and found that guests were refusing to speak with officials or outright denying they were at the party. Officials were forced to subpoena eight people they believe were at the party, and those who refuse to cooperate will face fines of $2,000 per day. Stupid and stubborn! Tracers were also concerned about two other parties in New York City on June 20 and 27 that may have had some guest overlap with the Rockland County party.
BuT wHaT aBoUt ThE pRoTeStS? While you’re right, Karen, that experts worried that the mass protests would cause a surge in virus cases—Dr. Fauci called them a “perfect set-up” for the virus and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti was concerned they would become “super-spreader” events—so far, this has shown not to be the case. In New York City, there has not yet been an uptick in coronavirus cases, despite the large protests that have been continuing for weeks. Experts are attributing this to a variety of factors, including but not limited to: protests being held outside as opposed to inside; protesters marching at a brisk pace, not remaining stagnant, and wearing masks; protesters being younger and therefore less likely to show serious symptoms; and even just dumb luck.
And, a new working paper from researchers at Bentley University, the University of Colorado Denver, and San Diego State University analyzed data from 315 American cities and compared incidences of COVID-19 in 281 cities where large protests were held to the 34 cities in which they were not, and found that protests had no significant effect on COVID-19. They attribute this surprising finding to the fact that protests may have actually caused an increase in people who stayed at home. In other words, maybe people who would have otherwise been out and about stayed at home so as to avoid the protests.
Even though it’s July 4th weekend and the urge to party might be tempting, I’m going to take a page from Coach Carr’s playbook and say, “just don’t do it, ok, promise?” And before you go sh*tting on Alabama, Florida, or any other states, just remember that recklessness isn’t limited to one part of the country, and that the U.S. is the Alabama of the world right now.
Image: Kyle Smith / Unsplash
If you’ve ever Googled anything related to your health, you’ve probably been bombarded by a billion articles claiming a variety of useless diagnoses. So, when you read one article that says that soy will kill you and another one that says it can decrease your risk of cancer, you’re probably like, “WTF?” With all these contradictory health claims, who can you believe? You’re right to be skeptical. As much as we love to waste hours scrolling through random stuff on our phones, the internet is filled with a bunch of people who think they’re experts but definitely are not. We’re talking to you, Becky—you’re not a fitness guru just because you love post-workout selfies. Also, a lot of things in science are still unknown (duh). Plus, studies can be funded by food companies and therefore can have inherent biases.
Basically what I’m trying to say is:
Good news: scientists are aware of this. In fact, they’ve even published some super helpful articles about the influence of contradictory health claims and information on consumers. Their conclusions? That there was wasn’t enough empirical evidence to clearly say anything, but people seem like they may be a little confused. No duh.
That being said, here are some of the most popular “health claims” that have totally contradictory science and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt.
Claim 1: Soy Is Bad For You
Soy is literally in everything. No, not just if you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s literally in everything unless you, like, grow your own plants and raise your own cattle. It’s fed to most livestock, so you indirectly consume it that way, plus soy protein isolate and other processed versions are put in most protein bars, powders, and snacks.
According to this Harvard briefing (so, like, probably legit), soy is fine as long as you don’t eat too much of it. But that begs the question: how much is too much? It may improve your heart or it may cause weirdly high levels of estrogen. It may reduce the risk of breast cancer but it also may increase the risk of cancer. It also may slow down your metabolism by messing up your thyroid. SOS someone please tell me if it’s bad to be eating so much tofu.
Claim 2: Carbs Are The Devil
Often vilified, carbs have become more popular recently with the grain bowl revolution and the whole “not demonizing food” movement. On the other hand, being keto or paleo is super #trendy, both of which avoid carbs. So, should we never eat a cupcake again? Or can we go full Mean Girls and eat all the carbs to lose weight?
Seriously though, I’m really confused if gluten is going to, like, kill me or if it’s just a harmless ingredient in my breakfast cereal. Someone please LMK because the internet had no answers. Some people say carbs are great, specifically in whole-grain items. Others claim high-carb diets are terrible for you. IDK man. I just want a cookie.
Claim 3: Caffeine Will Kill You
I think I drink maybe eight cups of coffee a day (this is not an exaggeration), so I would really like someone to find out, once and for all, if this habit will kill me. Or if in fact, it’s actually great for my metabolism. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than four cups a day is not ideal. And coffee is not at all particularly beneficial to your health. If you want to know all the potential ways your coffee habit may kill you, check out this deeply terrifying collection of studies. BRB got to figure out how to cut my coffee habit. But wait—now, get confused further by checking out this list of all the benefits of drinking coffee.
Claim 4: You Should Limit Dairy Intake
When we were little, the popular idea was that kids should drink milk every day so they can have strong bones and what not. Like a billion celebrities did Got Milk ads so they could sport that iconic milk ‘stache. Now, little kids drink almond and oat milk because dairy is apparently going to kill us all. However, some recent studies have found that dairy isn’t actually that bad for us. Other doctors try to argue that it is bad for you. Are we all giving ourselves osteoporosis from calcium deficiencies? This is really starting to stress me out, NGL.
Claim 5: Red Wine Is Good For Your Heart
This seems like something that everyone just wants to be true so they can justify blacking out while watching The Bachelor ordering a glass at dinner for their heart health. Does wine *actually* benefit us? The Mayo Clinic seems to think that moderate amounts do help your heart. But Harvard health seems to think the evidence is weak. So…pick your favorite hospital? DGAF and drink a whole bottle anyway? Great plan.
Anyway, since no one knows if this stuff is true or not, go get yourself a nice fat slice of like, mocha cheesecake. Live your best life because clearly, no one knows if anything is good or bad for you. Plus like, who cares? Diets are boring. Do you think when you’re 90 you’re going to be like “damn wish I had eaten more broccoli.” No way. You will def be happy you ate that goddamn slice of cheesecake.
For more diet and health tips, listen to our podcast, Diet Starts Tomorrow!
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