Thousands of Alabama fans pack streets celebrating Crimson Tide win despite COVID-19 warnings

Thousands of football fans in Alabama ignored COVID-19 warnings and partied at bars and in the streets Monday night after the Crimson Tide defeated Ohio State 52-24 for the national championship.

Video posted by journalist James Benedetto shows a densely-packed crowd fill an area called "The Strip" near the University of Alabama after several officials issued warnings ahead of the game to stay home.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox posted a video on Twitter last week. "We can’t have block parties this year," he said. "There will be a time and place to celebrate, but this is not the time."

"Cheer, celebrate, and enjoy the success of our team, but please do so responsibly and safely. Roll Tide!," Police Chief Brent Blankley said in a statement beforehand. 

On Monday, people lined up to get into the bars an hour before kickoff despite the warnings, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

"All bars are open and we're ready to roll over Ohio State," said a tweet by Gallettes, a popular student bar, long before the game began.

Traffic cameras and images posted on social media showed students and others pouring out of the packed bars near campus late Monday as time expired in Miami, where the championship game was played.

Many of the fans screaming and cheering as they pressed against each other in the street didn't wear face masks. The scene was exactly what officials feared before the game as they urged people to watch at home and celebrate privately.

More than 5,300 people have died in Alabama from the illness caused by the coronavirus, and about 404,000 have tested positive. 

About 14,200 people have tested positive in Tuscaloosa County, making it one of the worst in the state for the virus in overall numbers, and about 175 COVID-19 patients are being treated by DCH Regional Medical Center, located in the city.

Despite the threat of COVID-19, the celebration eclipsed the size of previous ones during coach Nick Saban's string of titles at Alabama.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Detroit.