Students worry about COVID-19 outbreak after viral video shows crowded off-campus college party

Students worry about COVID-19 outbreak after viral video shows massive off-campus college party

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — A video posted to YouTube showing crowds of people at a Dahlonega block party over the weekend went viral because it shows people not wearing masks and not social distancing.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan learned the party is a pre-semester tradition, but now it has students concerned the University of North Georgia will see a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Aaron Thomas is a University of Georgia student who said he went to visit a friend over the weekend.

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“Insanity. There was like no masks, no social distancing,” Thomas said.

He told Regan that he and his friend didn’t go to the block party but saw it on YouTube as well.

“In terms of coronavirus, I’m surprised that many people came out and actually went to it,” Thomas said.

Nursing student Jubilee Gast told Regna that she likes a good party like anyone else.

“I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, but it kind of shocked me to see that happening still with everything going,” Gast said.

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She worries that in a pandemic, the gathering of hundreds of students in close contact with no masks could spark a COVID-19 outbreak at the University of North Georgia campus.

“I really want the semester to go well, and I really want us to stay in class, but I think this really dampened that,” Gast said.

The University of North Georgia condemned the off-campus student bash in a statement, saying everyone has a responsibility to follow health department guidelines on and off campus:

"We are disappointed that many of our students chose to ignore COVID-19 public health guidance by congregating in a large group without social distancing," the statement read.

"I'm not surprised that it happened, and it looked bigger than the ones we had before," student Caroline Kulp said.

Since the apartment complex is off campus, there’s not much the university can do.

One student who lives in the apartment complex told Regan that notices by apartment management were put on doors, warning those who have a large party could face a $500 fine.

The local sheriff also said he’s working closely with health officials for guidance on issuing citations and breaking up parties that violate the governor’s COVID-19 orders.

As for students taking the pandemic seriously, some students told Regan that college is a key moment in their lives, and they’re not going to give up parties.

Others said they don’t want colleges to have to close again because of COVID-19 outbreaks and it’s worth making social sacrifices so that doesn’t happen.

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