Just after midnight on March 26, Chicago police responded to a noise complaint about an illicit house party. In a now-deleted video of the gathering, which went viral on Facebook, about 50 young people can be seen dancing and drinking in direct defiance of the state’s state-at-home orders. When police arrived, they sent everyone home before returning to the home on Monday to issue a citation for disorderly conduct to the owner.
According to Northwest Chicago district representative Gilbert Villegas, the party was thrown by the homeowner’s adult son and was the second party reported at that residence in recent weeks. The video, which was taken down the following day, was posted by partygoer Tink Purcell and was viewed over a million times before being taken down. Purcell defended her choice to go to the party likening it to the same level of risk as going to the grocery store. “Y’all go out to stores (food-4-less, wal-mart, target) and touch all type of shit after somebody else had already touched it,” Purcell wrote on Facebook. “Faith over fear god got me and mines.”
But the party footage — which showed tightly crammed partiers without any protective gear who could barely pass by each other in a crowd — sent shock waves to local leaders attempting to regulate the coronavirus outbreak. Multiple Chicago officials have responded to news of the house party fearing that a lack of adherence to social distancing orders now will worsen the spread.
“What was depicted on the video was reckless and utterly unacceptable,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday in a statement on Twitter. “While most Chicagoans are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, reckless actions like these threaten our public health and risk erasing the progress we have made.”
chicago house party on FB live last night 🤦🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/rOYrQURcKs
— austin white 🌎☁️🌸 (@ustinwhite) April 26, 2020
Illinois has been under stay-at-home orders since March 21 and in those four weeks, Chicago police have had to break up more than 5,200 groups for defying the rules put in place to quell the spread of the virus, Chicago Police Department spokesperson Luis R. Agostini told The Washington Post. In Cook County, which includes Chicago, there have been more than 31,900 reported cases and 1,347 deaths as of April 28.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also condemned the party at a news conference on Sunday. “I want to remind everyone that by doing that, by standing together, not social distancing, many people not wearing masks, you’re literally putting everyone around you in danger,” said Pritzker.
“All of those people are putting their families and their friends who are not there with them in danger.” When asked whether he thought violations would continue as people grow tired the longer quarantine is in place, Pritzker further reminded people that the state has the ability to enforce stay-at-home orders with arrests and disorderly conduct charges, reports Chicago CBS affiliate.
This isn’t the first time that parties have been held since social distancing orders were put in place. Last month, people in Kentucky threw a coronavirus party aimed at rejecting instructions to stay at home. Multiple cases were later traced back to that party. A birthday party held in Connecticut in early March was attended by about 50 people. Of those who attended, more than half tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after and all of them had come into contact with other people in between the party and diagnosis.
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