UConn students evicted from dorms for holding pandemic party

Published by NBCNEWS.COM

Summary generated on August 20, 2020

    Several University of Connecticut students were looking for new digs Wednesday after the dangers of reopening universities during a pandemic were laid bare in a video that showed undergrads living it up at a packed dorm room party where almost nobody was wearing a mask and there was zero social distancing.

    While the worst offenders were slapped with eviction notices, UConn officials gave no sign that they intend to follow the lead of other colleges, like the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, that canceled in-class instruction and sent students home for the semester after coronavirus outbreaks on their campuses.

    "These actions do not represent or speak for the 5,000 residents currently composing our residential community," UConn Dean of Students Eleanor Daugherty and Residential Life Director Pamela Schipani said of the video in a letter to students late Tuesday.

    "The vast majority of our students are doing the right thing."

    So far five students who live on campus have tested positive and were placed in UConn's isolation space, and 25 others who came in contact with them were in quarantine, the university said.

    "There will undoubtedly be more positive cases as more test results are returning in the coming days, and we will address each the same way as we work to protect the health of individual students and our community," Daugherty said in a statement.

    Public health experts like Dr. Howard Koh, a Harvard University professor who was assistant secretary of health and human services for health during the administration of President Barack Obama, said it shouldn't surprise anyone that America's universities are struggling right now.

    Officials at Iowa State University, where 175 students are starting off the semester in quarantine after having tested positive for COVID-19, warned that if undergrads continue flouting the school's rules by partying, they could wind up going home.

    "Disregarding these health and safety policies jeopardizes the university's ability to provide in-person experiences and increases the chance that all classes will move online," Toyia Younger, the senior vice president for student affairs, and Sharron Evans, the dean of students, said in a statement.

    "If students want to complete the fall semester on campus, this disregard must stop."

    Frustrated UNC-Chapel Hill students said school administrators didn't heed the warnings from students, parents and public health experts.

    "Everybody told the university not to reopen, and it was only a matter of time," said Nikhil Rao, a student government senior adviser who has participated in online meetings with Provost Bob Blouin every month since April, along with other student leaders.

    In South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, ordered that all undergraduate classes go online for the next two weeks after dozens of students were infected at an off-campus party.

    West Virginia University has already reported 96 positive cases since students started returning to the campus in Morgantown last week.

    "We had all hoped to stage our gradual return to campus, but the shifting nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on other colleges and universities has necessitated a change of course for Drexel," President John Fry wrote in a letter to students.

    The other states that have hit the depressing milestone are New York, New Jersey, California and Texas, according to the latest NBC News tally.

    New York and New Jersey racked up thousands of deaths in the early days of the pandemic when health officials were still trying to come up with a strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 and feared that they would run out of hospital beds.

    The numbers of new cases and deaths exploded in Southern and Sun Belt states like Florida, Texas and Arizona after they started reopening in May at the urging of President Donald Trump, while COVID-19 was still cresting.

    "We haven't seen an explosion of new cases," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, declared April 29, when the state had tallied 1,218 COVID-19 deaths and 33,193 cases.

    Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts about the coronavirus outbreak.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom, under pressure from businesses and other groups, began lifting restrictions in May and June, after which the numbers of new cases and deaths skyrocketed.

    Nationally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has topped 5.5 million, and the death toll as of Wednesday morning was close to 173,000, according to NBC News numbers.

    The big outbreak in New Zealand that Trump was referring to consisted of nine cases Monday, 13 more on Tuesday and six on Wednesday, according to the Health Ministry.

    Since the start of the pandemic, New Zealand has logged 1,649 cases and 22 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard.

    Florida reported 4,115 new cases and 174 more deaths on Wednesday alone.

    Alabama, which, like New Zealand, has a population of about 4.9 million, added 969 new cases overnight and has reported 1,944 deaths and 111,478 cases since the crisis began.

    If you're caught not wearing a mask in Hoboken, New Jersey, you could be hit with a fine of $250 or more.

    The U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday arrested Troy McCoy, 39 authorities say, he tried to barricade himself inside his Bronx, New York, home.

    As New York Mayor Bill de Blasio moved forward with plans to reopen classrooms in the nation's biggest public school system, the powerful city teachers union said it was prepared to take legal action and even go on strike if conditions aren't safe.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave public schools in the state the green light this month to reopen classrooms in the fall.

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