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Spike in COVID-19 cases linked to Utah County college students

Arbitrations are beginning for COVID-19-related housing disputes between BYU students and landlords. (PHOTO: BYU/Twitter)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah – The Utah Department of Health reported 563 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, pushing the state’s weekly positive test results to 487 per day.

The spike in cases earned strong condemnation from state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who called out college students in Utah County. 

“Since last Friday, 39% of all new cases have come from Utah County, this despite the fact that Utah County’s population represents just 20% of the state’s population. Most of these cases are among 14-24-year-olds, and the majority of those are among college-aged young adults.

Colleges across the state, and specifically in Utah County, have acted proactively to implement solid prevention measures on their campuses. They need help from their students to act responsibly while off campus. What students do off campus has a direct impact on a school’s ability to safely operate their campus,” Dunn wrote.  

The spike in COVID-19 positive tests among college students is not a surprise to the Utah County Health Department. 

Spokeswoman Aislynn Tolman-Hill says they have connected several COVID-19 cases to underground dance parties that went viral on the internet. 

“There’s no [masks] worn, no physical distancing, and we know that this is a problem,” Tolman-Hill says. 

Many of the COVID-19 cases are coming from parties run by two companies, though the health department is not naming them.

Although younger adults are less at-risk for getting a serious case of COVID-19, Tolman-Hill says they’ve seen people who thought they were young and healthy ending up in the hospital with the virus. 

“There’s still kind of a mentality of, ‘We’re young, we’re healthy, somewhat invincible’. And, unfortunately, that’s really not the case,” Tolman-Hill says. 

However, health officials are also asking people to take precautions instead of stopping their social lives completely. 

“What we are asking people to do is to wear a mask when you can’t socially distance,” Tolman-Hill says.    

BYU issued a statement Monday via Twitter addressing the issue saying that on-campus privileges will be restricted for those who choose not to follow their COVID-19 safety requirements.

In their statement, they said the restrictions include, “on-campus participation, such as classes, work or in-person campus services.”

They said that they have repeatedly asked students to keep themselves and their community safe and even though most students are following health guidelines, they implore their students to display the same kind of safe behavior on and off campus.



Related Links:

BYU nearly doubles COVID cases, causing concern among health officials

BYU students express concern over lack of masks and social distancing

BYU student tests positive for COVID-19