When I first came across this story in Newsweek, I thought it was satire. The headline alone suggested as such, so initially, I was sure I had landed on The Onion. As it turned out, nope, the story was real in all its science-denying glory.
Newsweek reports that this weekend, even as this country is still in the throes of a deadly viral pandemic, an annual party dubbed the White Trash Bash went on as scheduled, with around 200 boats and over 500 attendees gathering at Illinois River in East Peoria.
Yes, it is really called White Trash Bash. In fact, Saturday’s event was the 10th annual White Trash Bash, according to station WMBD. The station also reports that none of the 500 attendees were wearing a mask, even though there is a mask mandate in the state. Officials issued warnings about rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the area but it seems to have fallen upon deaf ears.
The Illinois mask mandate is clear that everyone over 2 years old must wear a mask when unable to socially distance. What is unclear, though, is what authority to do police have to enforce a mandate? Though the police department issued statements to inform citizens of the potential danger prior to the event, it appears to have had no plan of action to make sure people wore masks.
According to Newsweek, Mike Johnson, the director of the Fon Du Lac Park District, told WMBD,
“It’s the perfect element for a problem, you’ve got beautiful weather, a lot of alcohol and anywhere from 600-1000 people,” he said.
But while there was concern about the spread of the coronavirus, Johnson added that there isn’t much law enforcement can do about it.”
The Fon Du Lac Park Police Department posted a peculiar Facebook message after the event,
I was perplexed as to how could the police be thanking people for being “responsible,” when it seems that they were so negligent regarding public health and safely. I commented in reply,
“500 + people in attendance, hardly anyone wearing masks, it seems misguided that you thanked everyone for being responsible under such a circumstance.”
Stories like White Trash Bash are so baffling as the United States continues to lead the world in Coronavirus cases, followed by many developing countries. To see so many people in Illinois ignore the health warnings is particularly troublesome because the Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed over 180,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 8000 deaths.
It’s hard to know if the crowd of attendees was simply negligent or being willfully rebellious against masks as a political statement. There were Trump flags on full display however, which seem to not be a random coincidence.
It’s also worth noting the Governor of Illinois J. B. Pritzker, is a Democrat. He’s had a few clashes with Donald Trump over the past few months regarding what he refers to as federal mishandling of the Coronavirus outbreak, and Trump deploying federal troops to confront protestors in the state. So it’s not far-fetched to assess politics played a role in the absence of masks at Saturday’s event.
I guess only time will tell if the virus was spread rampantly at this year’s White Trash Bash. However, some of the older attendees at the ‘Bash’ might want to keep in mind, that they are particularly more at risk than their younger counterparts. Case in point, the relatively healthy, 74 year old Trump advocate Herman Cain, attended but refused to wear a mask at Donald Trump’s infamous rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20, 2020.
Just 39 days later, Cain was pronounced dead … of COVID-19.
H/T Read the full story at Newsweek