Coronavirus Chicago: CFD commander's son apologizes for hosting packed house party; free COVID-19 tests offered to attendees

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attendees of a now-infamous Chicago house party that angered state and local leaders for disregarding the stay-at-home order will be offered free COVID-19 tests.

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A viral video reportedly showing a large house party on Chicago's West Side has gone viral with over one million views.

Janeal Wright, the person who threw the party, is apologizing for creating a potentially dangerous situation.

He spoke to ABC7 Thursday outside Chicago's Loretto Hospital, where he hopes to get everyone who was at his Galewood neigbhorhood party last week will get tested for COVID-19.

"If it were up to me, I would undo it," Wright said. "I would definitely undo it. But now I have a way to have a message to everybody else, and to show everybody the seriousness of this."

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The party took place in a townhome in the Galewood neighborhood on Saturday. Video of party-goers packed inside a basement went viral, drawing the ire of many across the city, and indeed, the country.

The house where it was held belongs to Wright's mother, a Chicago Fire Department commander. Wright, who doesn't live there, has the keys and said he kept his mom in the dark about the party.

"She worked a 24-hour shift. She didn't know. It was all my planning," Wright said.

Wright admits he doesn't follow the news. He said before the public outcry, he hadn't really processed why social distancing was so important.

"My crowd and my people, my friends and people around my age, that wasn't our main focus," Wright said. "The thing that's killing us is gun violence. That's what's killing us and that's what is touching home with us."

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Now, with the help of State Representative La Shawn Ford, Wright hopes to do better. He wants to help others his age make the connection between the stay-at-home order and their families' lives and safety.

"This situation is an opportunity for us to connect," Ford said. "Had this not happened, I don't think as many black people his age would know how detrimental the coronavirus is. So there is some good that will come out of this."

In the meantime, Ford said Loretto Hospital is offering free testing to all of those who were at the party, whether they are showing symptoms or not.
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