(CBS Local) — Most people appear to be following public health recommendations on social distancing to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, but not everyone is listening. In recent weeks, officials in cities nationwide have struggled to rein in youthful partiers, who are largely ignoring the dangers of an ongoing pandemic in favor of having a good time. But these rebels should be warned: ignoring the call for social distancing is also leading to public shaming.
A “coronavirus party” in Kentucky is the latest instance of young people openly defying federal health guidelines intended to slow the spread of the virus. One of the people in their 20s who attended the party has tested positive for COVID-19.
"This is one that makes me mad…" After attending a "coronavirus party" in Kentucky at least one young adult has tested positive for COVID-19. https://t.co/PVUEGyL3nM
— KDKA (@KDKA) March 25, 2020
“We are battling for the health and even the lives of our parents and our grandparents,” Governor Andy Beshear 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.”
Some social media users have resorted to online shaming in an effort to convince others to abide by social distancing measures.
#COVIDIOTS was trending on Twitter this week, with users sharing memes and posting photos of people ignoring steps aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus.
— Lord Flashheart (Лорд флашхеарт) (@LordFlashy76) March 22, 2020
— திருவதிட்டக்குடி சரவணன் (@TgiSaravanan) March 25, 2020
Comprehensive list of symptoms for #COVIDIOTS
* Extraordinary sense of self importance
* Generally low I.Q
* Naturally attracted to Toilet paper
* Predominant diet of pasta
* Has no idea of personal space
Treatment: No effective anti-idiot drug currently tested!
— Erin (@SCFC1983EW) March 22, 2020
All of those wild college students partying on the beach in Florida and traveling for spring break… you are all a #COVIDIOT
— Colin Zhou (@ColinZhou17) March 22, 2020
— ❃ You’ll be you & I’ll be me (@walusiter) March 22, 2020
Does the shaming work?
Consider the case of Brady Sluder, a spring breaker from Ohio who went viral last week for downplaying the coronavirus outbreak while partying in Miami.
“If I get corona, I get corona,” he said in an interview with CBS News that went viral. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying.”
“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I'm not gonna let it stop me from partying”: Spring breakers are still flocking to Miami, despite coronavirus warnings. https://t.co/KoYKI8zNDH pic.twitter.com/rfPfea1LrC
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
After suffering days of relentless backlash on social media, Sluder posted a public apology Sunday on his Instagram account.
“I wasn’t aware of the severity of my actions and comments,” he wrote. “Like many others, I have elderly people who I adore more than anything in the world and other family members who are at risk, and I understand how concerning this disease is for us all.”
Even so, experts are divided as to whether the shaming is effective on people not practicing social distancing. But they do seem to agree one thing — the message is more effective on young people when it comes from a peer.
“Teenage brains can’t assess risk, and so don’t expect to tell them to do something and they’re gonna listen,” Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a professor in the school of public health at the University of Alberta and emergency physician, told the Edmonton Journal. “You have to get peers that are respected by others to get the message across.”