- Samuel Nii and Kwaku El have denied their underground college parties have contributed to a spike in coronavirus cases in Utah
- The two men, aged in their early 20s, are the founders of Young/Dumb, an organization catering to the college party scene in Utah County
- They resorted to hosting an ‘underground’ party in Provo on August 7 after their plans to hold the event at a mansion were canceled due to COVID concerns
- The group later threw a back to school party at a ‘secret’ location weeks later, and another in Orem on September 11
- Utah County health officials on Friday recorded 1,000 new cases in one day
- Nii and El say the spike is likely due to the return of 30,000 students on campus, not their parties
A college party organization has defended hosting a series of ‘underground’ back-to-school events in Utah, where coronavirus cases have since spiked.
Samuel Nii and Kwaku El, are the founders of Young/Dumb, an organization catering to the college party scene in Utah County, home of two major Church of Latter-Day Saints universities.
The pair drew attention earlier this month and in August after they began promoting dance parties in the Provo-Orem area on social media amid the pandemic.
Utah County, which had seen a decline in COVID-19 cases this summer, is currently experiencing a surge, with more than 1,000 new cases recorded on Friday, according to the state health department.
The record number of new cases comes as thousands of college students return to campus for the fall semester.
But Nii and El, both aged in their early 20s, have denied that the college party events have contributed to a spike in cases.
Young/Dumb began promoting parties in the area earlier last month, kicking off the start of the school semester with an event planned for August 7.
The group organized a ‘mansion dance party’ in Provo, home to Brigham Young University, at a time when COVID cases were considered ‘low risk’, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The group later shared an update on its Instagram page informing followers of their decision to cancel the party due to ‘health and welfare’ concerns from the owners of the venue.
Young/Dumb said it would instead host an ‘underground party’ and would release the address of the ‘secret’ venue on the day of the event to avoid efforts to ‘squash’ it.
‘Due to the health & welfare of the owners of the mansion and the reality of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel the August 7th Mansion Dance Party. However, due to us not being little b******, we are replacing it with THE UNDERGROUND DANCE PARTY,’ the statement read.
The organizers also said they would take safety precautions by providing hand sanitizer, water and soap to their guests.
A few weeks later, they hosted another event titled ‘The Glow Up Show Up’ in Provo on September 4. Details of that party were again not released until the day of the event.
Most recently on September 11, Young/Dumb held another underground ‘mask-querade dance party’ in which guests gathered at a secret location in nearby Orem, where they were required to wear masks.
‘We are seeing the evidence on social media. We know the pictures are out there,’ she said. ‘It certainly is not something that we would recommend.’
After drawing criticism over the events, El took to Facebook to defend their decision to host the parties and said the spike in cases was a likely a result of other events and factors, not their events.
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‘We decided this choice was fair given multiple large gatherings had occurred in Provo and surrounding cities for weeks and days preceding our party,’ he said, referring to BLM protests and other local events that had taken place in the area.
El and Nii later shared an statement on Instagram blaming the surge in cases on students returning to the area in mass.
‘The morning of September fourth, BYU released the statistic that the University currently had forty COVID sicknesses on campus. The illnesses had affected the student body before our parties came into effect,’ the statement read.
‘Perhaps it was from weekly dance parties at certain established venues, weekly country swing dances, various hot tub gatherings or “hook up culture”. Regardless, it is safe to say the virus most likely came by the arrival of over thirty thousand students moving back into the Provo-Orem area.
‘Although Young/Dumb is not a health bureau, it is likely that COVID’s traction among students came by way of adding over thirty thousand people into one Valley, over the span of a few days, and not from students Milly-rocking to a Big Sean song, at a party that had not occurred yet.’
‘We are not surprised that the University area’s spikes are among University students. This make sense because it’s in a University area and these are University students,’ the two men added.
Nii and El also claimed their events have not been shut down by authorities due to the health and safety precautions they implement among party-goers.
‘Our only event to be closed early was due to a fire hazard and not the Coronavirus,’ they said.