At any other time, the hilarious photo of teens pretending to lick each other’s faces doesn’t make the national headlines.
But what she posted on Facebook on November 7 – three shimmering girls wearing crowns, smiles and red roses among young boys as they kiss them – is a symbol of the catastrophic division among Americans in the midst of a pandemic.
On the same day 1,007 Americans died from the highly contagious virus that has swept the nation, parents sent their children in skis and sequins to a huge indoor event.
And while fathers who planned for a massive comeback dance dance Rolla, Missouri And the McDonough, Georgia They were criticized on social media and national news sites after their events were reported by The Daily Beast, and these parties were hardly extreme.
In fact, parents across the country were doing the same.
The teens were photographed pretending to lick each other on a white, sunlit balcony in Barnesville, Ohio. Wendy Corbyn Stephen, 55, told The Daily Beast via Facebook messages that her grandson went to Barnesville High School’s indoor dance with about 100 other teens – and that she was “glad he was able to attend.” The dance was titled “Footloose,” and social media posts from a Twitter account apparently created for the event show that tickets were $ 10 and that event organizers are asking parents to sign a waiver.
On the evening of the dance, teenagers stood with crowns and scarves of the Special Court for Returning Home. Dozens of colleagues carried flower bouquets and wore flowers, their faces surrounded by little rings, according to photos on Instagram that read “The Great Horizon”. Then they got inside, sweating, singing to the music and snarling with scraps of paper on the floor. None of the mothers who shared pictures of their children and themselves in the Barnsville dance responded to requests for comment from The Daily Beast – via text message, Twitter DM, Facebook messenger, or otherwise – seeking their point of view or motives.
“Everyone is cut off the free,” apparently one mother tweeted, alongside a picture of teenagers dancing under twinkling lights on November 7. In the background, a large banner reads “Free”. Neither school district officials nor the school principal responded to multiple requests for comment this week, but the school went into distance learning after the event. The Belmont County Health Department did not respond to multiple inquiries.
As of Friday, there were 1,987 cumulative confirmed cases in Belmont County, which has a population of approximately 68,472. According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Ohio Department of Health It reported 10,114 new cases on Friday alone, The fourth largest number of daily infections since the start of the epidemic.
On November 7, private indoor gatherings were restricted to 10 or fewer, according to an agent at the state’s COVID-19 hotline. The Twitter account visible for the Footloose event indicated that it happened at a student’s home, but The Daily Beast was unable to independently confirm this on Friday.
These parties are now an advantage, not an anomaly, in the midst of America’s pandemic.
Take, for example, an event in Spokane, Washington that featured about 50 teenagers He attended a private dance on coming home Inside a church on November 21, or one week earlier, in Plum, Pennsylvania, after which at least 150 students were asked to stay home from school because students had tested positive for COVID-19. The cases were linked to a parental dance on November 14, as no masks were required and social distancing was not maintained, she said. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“This level of ignorance [the] The overall health of our community honestly makes me so angry, disheartening and really disappointing, ”Director of the District Health Department, Dr. Debra Pogan, For your local CBS affiliate. “The spread of the virus is the result of deliberate disregard for the state’s public health measures.”
In Bridgeport, West Virginia – where indoor gatherings are restricted to 25 people under an executive order from the governor – tell public health authorities and a local supervisor WVNews.com On Tuesday, at least one case of HIV infection this week was linked to the homecoming dance of “between 100 and 200 students,” performed by a parent who was reported to have reserved the venue for “renewal of the covenant.”
State capacity limits do not apply to weddings, and public health authorities have said they expect to follow up more cases, in a county already experiencing what it called an “incredible community spread,” according to the news site.
In Slidell, Louisiana, a mother named Reagan Abney told The Daily Beast that she had planned a private outdoor dinner – complete with COVID-19 safety precautions – for about 20 teens in her home, so they could dress up and take pictures. without The risk of moving an actual dance – such as the one their classmates were attending.
My son said, “The school will not allow any kind of dancing.” “There were other parents on Slidell who had an event, but I didn’t allow my kids to participate due to the size of the crowd. From the photos there appeared to be over 100 photos.”
“We were trying to give them some memories, but this was not the case,” she added. “It was a small private gathering in my house.” The Daily Beast was unable to independently confirm that another Slidell dance took place, and Abney did not respond to follow-up questions from The Daily Beast.
The dance in Rolla, Missouri, which took place at a steakhouse on November 7, was organized by the parents. It featured 200 students and led to a wave of COVID-19 cases, which the local health ministry struggled to trace contact with because the parents who performed the dance did not keep a list of the students who attended.
The organizers intentionally concealed the number and identities of those present to avoid tracking of contacts, he said Ashley Wan, Director of Health, Phelps Mary County Health Department.
“I sometimes wonder if the kids care as much as parents do with these dances“
– School employee
A week later, in McDonough, Georgia, Parents performed a dance for 250 Ola high school students. Hela Folden, a spokeswoman for the Georgia County Department of Public Health 4, which covers Henry County, told The Daily Beast that her team has yet to link any cases to the event, but her division has had a lot of difficulty getting residents infected with the coronavirus to answer questions. Phone, answer questions, or otherwise participate in tracking contacts for the past few months. This means that she cannot conclude that the dance did not result in any cases, she told the Daily Beast.
A staff member at one of the schools on the list said: “I sometimes wonder if the children care how much parents care about these dances, or whether it is more than a photo opportunity and an opportunity for parents to live indirectly through their children” above, who asked not to disclose Their identity for fear of being expelled for speaking to the press about COVID-19.
“Schools work hard to make sure they take every possible measure to prevent transmission of the virus in the school,” she said. “Then parents take it upon themselves to hold these extraordinary events and undo all this good work.” “It wasn’t an innocent censorship; it was a stark choice to ignore public health advice.”
The employee added: “I feel disgusted and convinced that it contributed to what is happening in our society,” noting that the cases “have risen dramatically.”
One ray of hope? The end of the homecoming season had the potential to end these glamorous celebrations and their viral transmission. Unfortunately, things don’t look promising.
According to two Ola High School students interviewed by The Daily Beast last week, students at neighboring schools in Henry County are reaching out to see how they can throw parties in the coming weeks, which students have dubbed “Winter Balls.”
Then, this week, a freshman at Ula High School – who requested anonymity for fear of bullying and retaliation from her peers – presented a screenshot to The Daily Beast of Snapchat’s invitation to officially winterize students at Locust Grove High School – also in Fulden’s major. . Tickets for the January 23 event range from $ 25 to $ 35 and can be sent to a Venmo account called @ WINTERFORMAL2021. When The Daily Beast checked this account on Friday, several transactions had already been recorded under labels such as “Luxet Dance” and “Tickets.”
JD Hardin, executive director of communications at Henry County School District, confirmed last week that the district was aware of the Ola High School dance, but did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week about the official winter semester that appears to be a blueprint for Locust Grove High School students, though That the school is in the same area.
“The majority of my school doesn’t think COVID is a real thing.” Senior Ola student said, “You better not even talk, like.” I was confused – why should we vote for a King and Queen back home, considering what exactly is happening. “
The senior student, a student of color at a largely white school, said that she often feels isolated due to her interest in how her actions affect her family and community, and is deprived that she is still learning from home while other children party and attend school face to face, and she was bullied when She talks about the safety of COVID-19.
She said the students who went dancing were like, “Why would you care about what we do?” But they then returned to school after attending a massive indoor event that violated public health guidelines, potentially spreading the virus to others.
She said, “I wear my mask every time I go out and go to Walmart.” “Everyone has no masks and they look at you like you are crazy. Especially after coming home, I felt it was worse. They sent another email saying another student on campus had the COVID virus.”
Fulden said her team “will be on alert and speed up today to try to prevent” the official from moving forward with the few tools they have at their disposal, but they are limited in the type of enforcement her administration can take.
“We are back where we were,” she sighed after The Daily Beast sent her an invitation to attend the official winter. “It’s like we’re spitting in the wind when we see things like this.”
In response to questions from The Daily Beast about whether anyone in the county would try to stop the event, Anthony Ford, president of the Henry County Health Board, said, “We will always encourage citizens to be safe and considerate of others when they are in the public sphere.” He said he was not. Aware of the official winter until The Daily Beast made the invitation and Venmo transfers.
On the other hand, Folden said, “It is baffling to think that people want to congregate, especially in large groups like this, even when we see small groups causing the Coronavirus to spread rapidly at this time.” “It’s very frustrating,” she added.
“Public health and healthcare workers in general are working hard at the moment to slow the spread of the coronavirus and prepare for vaccinations in the coming weeks, and we are very tired of the length of time we have been doing and how difficult it is,” said Fulden, “reworking,” noting that her daughter In high school and frustrated by all that she misses.
“But we took the time to show that when kids go to parties and then go and do other things, one person can infect hundreds.”