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'Like a Petri dish': UNI student describes party he went to where he and many friends got COVID-19

Tyler Hospodarsky says in June, he wasn't super careful about social distancing and wearing a mask. Now, he hopes others don't follow in his footsteps.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Tyler Hospodarsky had the "it could never happen to me" attitude when he went to a birthday party in June, disregarding the possibility of contracting COVID-19.

"I went to a birthday party like I think a lot of young people have," said Hospodarsky. "It was a party in a regular college house where it's not spacious at all."

Over the course of a few hours, Hospodarsky says about 30 people came and went, not wearing masks and not social distancing.

"Truly in terms of breeding for a virus like this, it's like a Petri dish," he said. "Everyone there got the Coronavirus."

It was just a matter of days before Hospodarsky experienced pounding headaches, and he got texts from several friends saying they all felt ill.

"For five or six days, I would wake up with a headache, I would go to bed with a headache," he said. "And then about when the headaches started fading away, I lost my sense of taste and smell."

The most humiliating part, he said, was telling people he had been around that they needed to quarantine. After the party, a few days went by before Hospodarsky realized he had COVID-19. Then, he had to play catch-up and warn everyone he was around that they might have it, too.

"Even though [my family] tested negative, they had to put their lives on hold over the next 14 days because of me," he said. "You know, they have to quarantine. Just letting everybody know it’s so embarrassing; I mean it truly is tough."

Tyler said his 80-year-old grandpa who has asthma thankfully tested negative. However, he said not all party-goers were as lucky.

"[One of the party attendees] transmitted it to their grandpa, and he has actually died--I mean he has died from it," said Hospodarsky. "That was my nightmare situation. I just can’t imagine mentally how much it would affect me if I was the reason that my grandpa died."

Now, he is pleading others, young and old, to be careful.

"You really have to get out of the mindset of like 'I will be fine.' Because yes, maybe you will be fine. But the next person might not. And that’s just not the dice you want to roll."

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