Thousands Attend Halloween Party in Utah Against State COVID Guidelines: It's 'Disheartening'
A massive Halloween party that went against Utah's COVID-19 restrictions is causing health officials concern.
Utah officials estimate that there were anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 people at a Halloween rave on Saturday night, as Utah sees some of its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases yet.
According to social media posts, the party was organized by Utah Tonight, an events group that advertised the rave on Instagram as a "protest" against COVID-19 restrictions.
Days before the party was held at the Knolls near Utah Lake, Utah Tonight announced it would cancel the event because they had to "acknowledge that even following every known guideline to combat COVID-19 would be insufficient for some."
However, the rave went on as planned and the Utah County Sheriff's Office told Fox 13 that they shut down the party at around 10 p.m. on Saturday after one attendee was injured while crowd-surfing. When authorities responded to the call, they found that the organizers did not have a permit for the event and shut it down.
In Utah County, where there is currently a high level of transmission, gatherings are limited to 10 people or less and masks are required, per Utah Health Guidelines. Footage of the event shared on social media showed the thousands of guests dancing close together without masks on.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
"To see an event of this size is extremely disheartening, as Utah deals with its worst Covid-19 outbreak yet," Aislynn Tolman-Hill, the Utah County Health Department's Public Information Officer, told Fox 13.
“Individuals who attended this event absolutely will become ill. We will have positive cases, and those individuals will then spread it to other individuals who never intended to: 1. Attend that event or 2. Who have been trying to protect themselves on end," she added
It is unclear if the organizers will face any charges for going against COVID-19 guidelines, but authorities said they may face charges for hosting the event.
The Utah County Attorney told Fox 13 his office is looking into the allegations against the organizers and will decide whether or not to bring charges in the coming days.
"In the meantime, we are a community of people, all fighting a pandemic. In addition to our personal liberties, we also have community responsibilities," said David O. Leavitt, Utah County Attorney. "Each of us have a responsibility to reduce risk, lower spread, and do what we can to help combat this worldwide pandemic. With hospitals at capacity, healthcare workers overworked and exhausted, we are concerned that the outcome of spread could result in critical healthcare events. We urge caution … and consideration of how this affects everyone."
Utah reported at least six new coronavirus deaths and 1,669 new cases on Tuesday. Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,733 cases per day, an 38 percent increase from the average two weeks earlier, according to The New York Times database.
As of Wednesday morning, there have been at least 119,375 cases and 620 deaths in Utah since the beginning of the pandemic.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
Source: Read Full Article