Following Halloween weekend, 13 different residences are under investigation for throwing large parties near the University of Wisconsin campus — one party had more than 90 people in an apartment, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Such parties violate Dane County’s current public health order, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people within an enclosed area and no more than 25 outside. Regardless of how many individuals are gathered together, the order still requires masks.
UW Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone said UW received several notifications about Halloween gatherings related to the University.
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“For campus discipline, we received a total of 37 reports of public health violations,” McGlone said.
According to McGlone, 31 students have been referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for investigation. Furthermore, she said nine of the 31 students have been referred for emergency suspension, and three registered student organizations are currently under investigation.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, lines at the Alliant Energy Center — Dane County’s largest testing center — had lines lasting over an hour Tuesday.
In an interview with The Badger Herald, UW Health Director of Infection Control Dr. Nasia Safdar said at this point, everyone should understand the implications of holding large gatherings, and will Halloween only further prove these dangers.
“It’s a good opportunity to drive home the points that it is really behavior that drives spread and it’s a really predictable outcome,” Safdar said. “We know what will happen. Perhaps think twice if the benefit of gathering is worth this outcome.”
While there has been a spike in cases and hospitalizations following the holiday, Safdar said these numbers have been rising for three to four weeks now. It is still too soon after Halloween weekend to realize how the festivities will impact Dane County’s rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths as a result of COVID-19, Safdar said.
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As of Wednesday, Dane County has more than 17,500 positive cases of COVID-19 and is responsible for approximately 6.8 percent of the state’s total cases, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Safdar said a large number of hospitalizations are typically from an older population. But those who go to the large gatherings inevitably come into contact with older residents. This potentially exposes them to the virus.
According to the City of Madison’s website, the city can issue up to a $1,000 fine for each public health violation, such as exceeding the limit of 10 people indoors. Students in violation of public health policies face disciplinary action from the University and city-issued citations, McGlone said.