Partygoers Shrug Off COVID-19 Warnings, Attend Annual Boat Bash

August 3, 2020

    EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Hundreds of people didn't let a global pandemic stop them from partying at an annual boat bash in downstate East Peoria this weekend.

    The party happened as coronavirus cases climb across Illinois. 

    “I’m just ready to tear it down,” Dan “Murph” Murphy told CBS 2 Chicago. “I thought we were going fishing, but I guess we’re going there. It’s going be a good time hanging with friends.”

    There was lots of alcohol, few masks, and little regard for social distancing along the Illinois River for an event called the White Trash Bash, CBS 2 Chicago reported.

    About 200 boats gathered on Saturday against the advice of health experts and park district officials.

    “We encourage them to practice social distancing. I don’t know how likely that’s going to be in this environment,” Mike Johnson, director of the Fon du Lac Park District in East Peoria, told CBS 2 Chicago.

    Johnson continued: “This isn’t a sanctioned event. We started having law enforcement present about five years ago because we will get a lot of fights on the beach. It’s the perfect element for a problem. you’ve got beautiful weather, a lot of alcohol and anywhere from 600 to 1,000 people.”

    Partygoers were warned ahead of time that large gatherings were potentially dangerous.

    On Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a $5 million-mask awareness campaign to help mitigate COVID-19's spread.

    “Folks, no one is asking you to wear a mask forever but for time being until we see a very effective treatment or a vaccine, the best way to safely get to the other side of this emergency, is for all of us to follow the mitigations recommended by doctors,” Pritzker said.

    The Illinois Public Health Department also announced another 1,298 cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.  

    The state’s rolling positivity rate increased to 4%, the health department said.

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