The recent spike in COVID-19 cases at the University of Delaware is a result of numerous large parties over Halloween weekend, a university official confirmed Friday.
UD has hit 82 cases for the week – making it the worst week on campus since the pandemic began.
"Unfortunately, yes, this spike is directly related to gatherings associated with Halloween," UD spokeswoman Andrea Boyle Tippett said. "University officials were worried about this potential and the dean of students sent a letter to all students [last] Friday about precautions."
In the letter, Dean of Students Adam Cantley said the university is concerned about large gatherings in student-centric areas of the city, such as Choate Street.
"We know that Halloween is a favorite time for many of you. Unfortunately, the threat of the pandemic also persists, and we are concerned about some recent off-campus behavior issues that are potentially dangerous," Cantley wrote.
Newark Police busted three large off-campus parties within a two-hour period overnight Oct. 29 into Oct. 30. A total of 63 people were cited for violating Newark’s social gathering law, which limits the size of gatherings in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Police added extra patrols over the weekend, but things appeared to calm down, and they issued just one additional citation.
Still, the damage was done.
UD reported 12 coronavirus cases Tuesday, 20 cases Wednesday and 47 on Thursday - the university's highest one-day total. On Friday, seven more cases were reported.
The spike brought an unfortunate end to what had been a relatively quiet month for UD's coronavirus situation.
After peaking in late September with 80 cases in one week, UD’s coronavirus outbreak waned in October, and the university was praised by state health officials for getting the outbreak under control. Last week, only 19 cases were reported.
The students cited by police will face a fine of up to $500 and up to 20 hours of community service, as well as additional sanctions from the university.
Under UD policy, any student charged with hosting a party that violates the law will immediately receive a temporary suspension until the case is adjudicated. Those found guilty through the university judicial system will receive a full suspension and could be expelled.
So far this semester, six students have been suspended and 100 have received deferred suspensions, Boyle Tippett said.
Since students returned in late August, UD has seen a total of 530 COVID-19 cases.