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A BYU-Idaho student got into a fight over her roommate’s boyfriend and it went viral this week. In stepped the Salt Lake County Health Department issuing its recommendation for love in the time of coronavirus: “#StayHomeBrett."
Soon the hashtag was trending nationally on Twitter as a battle cry for social distancing and a rebuke for those who fail to defer to vulnerable populations as the coronavirus sweeps the nation.
It all started Monday, when a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho posted screengrabs of text messages with her roommate, discussing household plans to manage the spread of COVID-19. The Twitter user @Chels_FAC14 posted that she had asked her roommates not to have guests over because she is immunocompromised.
“I’m glad that you are seeking to stay safe in this pandemic. That’s very wise,” the roommate replied. “However, you can’t prevent me from having people over. So you can expect to see Brett over often :) and if that’s an issue for you, you can stay in your room. 6+ feet of distance will definitely keep the viruses away.”
As retweets of the roommate’s missive circulated Tuesday, the Salt Lake County Health Department spoke up:
“Brett could do his part in flattening the curve by visiting virtually! #StayHomeBrett”
Overnight, the hashtag #StayHomeBrett ascended to the top 10 Twitter trends nationally.
By Wednesday morning the hashtag had transcended the BYU-Idaho roommate feud and became a general admonishment to avoid contact with others while the virus spreads worldwide.
Other Bretts even weighed in.
“Proud member of Bretts Opposing Brett,” wrote Salt Lake City photographer Brett Colvin.
“So happy to find out that #StayHomeBrett is trending. I’m all for it if the checks keep coming. I hope there isn’t some dumb Brett out there ruining my otherwise fabulous name,” tweeted journalist Brett Allbery of Spokane.
“Thank you for all your concern! I guess I didn’t know you cared,” tweeted Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Arends.
A search for the hashtag shows Salt Lake County Health was the first account to use the hashtag in reference to coronavirus. A handful of earlier iterations, between 2010 and 2013, referred to retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre.
Idaho is under a statewide stay-at-home order. BYU-Idaho instructed all students staying on campus to “avoid all nonessential gatherings of any number of individuals outside of your household." For the spring semester, the university is offering classes online only.
It is unclear whether Brett stayed home or not.