BYU-Idaho

The Brigham Young University-Idaho campus in Rexburg.

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Brigham Young University-Idaho officials are warning students that anyone intentionally exposing themselves or others to COVID-19 will be suspended and may be permanently dismissed.

The university issued a news release Monday that says the university is “deeply troubled” that individuals may be intentionally exposing themselves to the virus with the hope of being paid more from a plasma donation center for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies.

“The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter,” the release says. “Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community.”

During Rexburg’s City Council meeting Oct. 7, the council discussed rumors of BYU-I students throwing “COVID parties.” University Community Liaison Brett Sampson said the university was not aware if any parties were happening.

“That would be something in my mind that’s worth involvement from the police department,” said councilmember Brad Wolfe.

Tyler Stewart, Grifols Biomat USA manager, said during the council meeting it was never the plasma donation center’s intention to encourage people to get COVID-19.

Grifols is in agreement with the Federal Drug Administration to support a potential treatment for COVID-19. A donor with COVID-19 antibodies will make around double the amount as a donor would without the antibodies, said Mike Prince, Grifols manager at Hemming Village, during the council meeting.

“We want to be able to help wherever we can,” Stewart said. “If it’s encouraging people to get COVID to come donate, we can look at reducing payments.”

According to the release, the university is actively seeking evidence of such behavior among its student body.

The notice further states that if the amount of cases continue to rise in Idaho and in Madison County, the university may have to move to remote instruction.

“We urge all members of the campus community to act respectfully and responsibly by observing all public health and university protocols and placing the well-being of others above personal benefit or convenience,” the release says.

This story has been updated from its original form to include comments from the plasma center management.