Quarantine? Is that a drink?
While most New Yorkers are hunkering in place, others are popping corks and staging parties that defy occupancy and social-distancing edicts.
Lucian Wintrich, a former White House reporter and advertisement hand, is one of them. The 31-year-old contrarian recently hosted a “corona potluck” at his small but chic East Village apartment.
“They can’t diagnose us all,” reads the invite Wintrich sent to a select group for the March 14 gathering. “Don’t wash your hands. … Bring your fav dish!” The tongue-in-cheek advert also included an image of a boy covered in chicken pox and a fork digging into a coronavirus spore.
“The majority of folks I invited, if they got it, would recover fairly quickly and build up an immunity to the present form of COVID19,” he said unapologetically. “It was relatively inspired by the chickenpox parties that were all the rage in the 90s.”
The events, which Wintrich himself remembered attending, were once popular among parents as a way to expose their children to the common childhood scourge early to inoculate them later in life. They fell out of fashion after a vaccine was developed in the mid-90s.
He added that nobody at the party was deliberately looking to infect anyone. “The quarantine, itself, is serious to a degree. I wouldn’t hang around folks over the age of 50 and risk infecting the more vulnerable,” Wintrich said.
Wintrich once wrote for the right-wing website The Gateway Pundit, and before that caused a stir with “Twinks for Trump”, an LGBT-themed art series that was shown at the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland.
About 20 people jammed his artfully-decorated apartment, drinking and socializing under Wintrich’s massive erotic oil painting depicting the murder of Abel, encased in a gilded baroque frame.
“I went because Lucian is my friend and he texted me,” said Brian Alacorn, 24. “I thought I shouldn’t, because of the social distancing — but my friends were already outside and I just kinda went.”
Other pals had fewer reservations.
“When Britain was being bombed by Nazi Germany during the blitz, they kept the f–king stores open. People went about their lives,” said another partygoer, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of workplace reprisals. “We get a flu … and we shut everything down. … We have completely handed over our civil liberties … and anyone who wants to go out and live a normal life is semi-ostracized.”
At the time of the Wintrich soiree, New York had already shut down Broadway. Just hours after the last revelers went home, the city announced that schools, bars and restaurants would also follow suit. In March 15th guidelines, the city health department recommended people “keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others, whenever possible,” and cease all non-essential travel. The federal government has urged all Americans to avoid crowds of 10 or more.
But it’s not just libertine millennials spitting in the face of danger.
Dr. Knut M. Wittkowski, the former chief biostatistician and epidemiologist at Rockefeller University Hospital, told The Post he was not practicing social distancing and said he regularly goes to one of two illicit restaurants secretly operating in his Upper East Side neighborhood.
“Yesterday I went to my favorite speakeasy and had dinner,” he said, saying there were about eight others dining alongside him. He declined to name the establishment.
The veteran physician believes social distancing will only prolong the virus by preventing the natural development of “herd immunity.”
“All respiratory epidemics end when 80 percent of all people have become immune,” he said “Then if a new person gets infected, the person doesn’t find anybody else to infect. The best strategy you can do is isolate the old and fragile people — make sure that nobody visits the nursing homes — then let the children go to school and let people go to work. … They have a mild disease. Then they become immune, and after two or three weeks the epidemic is over.”
Wittkowski’s contention is accepted by many medical professionals, but has proved extremely controversial as a possible solution for coronavirus because medical facilities likely can’t handle the potential surge in cases. Efforts by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take a herd-immunity approach were reversed after markets collapsed and more than 500 British scientists signed a letter begging him to change course.
Wittkowski added, “This is a flu and this will end like every other flu did before for the last thousand years.”
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