UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) – For the past week, COVID-19 case counts have been on the rise in Utah. State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn stated Monday that most of these cases are coming from a very specific area and age group.
“We are experiencing a clear upward trend in case counts right now. This trend is being driven, in large part, by an increase in cases among college-aged young adults in Utah County,” says Dr. Dunn.
In response to the high case counts coming out of Utah County, Brigham Young University released a statement via social media Monday afternoon saying that university officials have imposed disciplinary measures for 15 students who refused to follow COVID-19 safety requirements.
In the statement, it was also made clear by the university that they have “repeatedly and urgently asked members of our campus community to please be intentional right now to keep themselves and our community safe.”
University officials said that they have been working closely with state, county, and city officials, as well as with Utah Valley University, to encourage compliance with local health guidelines among Utah County students.
One BYU student, Kwaku El, was caught in the middle of the social media uproar caused by the recent rise in case counts in Utah County. El is the founder of Young/Dumb, a group that regularly hosts college parties in Utah County. Although the rising case counts have not been directly linked to any of El’s parties, they have been talking points in recent weeks.
El took to his Young/Dumb social media accounts to address the increasing pressure he is getting from Utah County residents to put a stop to the college dance parties.
“It is safe to say the virus most likely came by the arrival of more than 30,000 students moving back into the Provo-Orem area. Although Young/Dumb is not a health bureau, it is likely that COVID’s traction among students came by way of adding more than 30,000 people into one Valley, over the span of a few days, and not from students Milly-rocking to a Big Sean song, at a party that had not occurred yet,” wrote El through the Young/Dumb social media accounts.
Young/Dumb stated that at their parties, they exercise no-contact payments, require masks upon entry, and encourage attendees to wear them. Young/Dumb also reports that they give face masks to every attendee that does not have one. They also said their precautions are why law enforcement has not shut them down.
El says that his parties are not the only ones being thrown in the Utah County college scene and there are various places where a college student could have contracted COVID-19 in the Provo-Orem area.
Regardless of where the current infected college-aged students contracted COVID-19, Dr. Dunn had made the recent COVID-19 data clear.
“Since last Friday, 39 percent of all new cases have come from Utah County. This, despite the fact that Utah County’s population represents just 20 percent 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,” Dr. Dunn stated.
She added, “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.”
Dr. Dunn says that COVID-19 precautions remain the same now, even for college students returning back to their fall routines. Dr. Dunn says that people should avoid large, indoor gatherings where physical distancing is not possible and that face coverings should be worn in public.
Meanwhile, Young/Dumb’s next event will be a fundraiser to help Utah citizens and businesses who have been negatively affected by COVID-19 in the last six months.