Video shows party in Lawrence, Kansas, flout COVID-19 rules

Another video of University of Kansas college students partying went viral this weekend as a professor raised concerns that attempts to stop the spread of the new coronavirus in Lawrence are not working.

Ward Lyles, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, was on a walk Saturday night when a large, loud gathering caught his attention. He proceeded to post a series of videos to Twitter of a crowded party in the 1100 block of Mississippi Street, just off campus.

One of the videos shows a porch area filled with dozens of people who appear to be standing close together without masks on. It had more than 56,000 views as of early Sunday afternoon.

“Masks? Social distancing? Nope,” Lyles tweeted. “Super spreader event? Yep.”

The Lawrence videos are among many recordings circulating online, showing college students around the country defying rules put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed almost 194,000 people in the U.S. this year.

At KU, hundreds of people have tested positive for the virus since students returned to campus three weeks ago. Despite university recommendations for students to wear masks and avoid large crowds, the parties have continued.

Lyles also observed two ”massive” parties on Alabama and Kentucky streets.

He said he tried to take the videos far enough back that faces couldn’t be made out. Lyle’s intention wasn’t to get individual students in trouble, he said, but rather to show how the systems in place to prevent such gatherings aren’t working.

As of Sept. 1, 546 members of the campus community had tested positive for COVID-19. The majority are students, with 332 cases at that point coming from Greek life alone. In a video update last week, KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said the Greek community was testing positive at a rate of about 10%.

The most recent university update showed 799 members of the campus community had tested positive as of Thursday.

“The damage is not just done and over by any stretch of the imagination,” Lyles said of the continued spread of the disease.

“I’m not trying to be a rogue agent here,” Lyles said. “KU set up a reporting portal and is asking the whole community to report these behaviors. My aim is elevate discussion and dialogue about system failures that can be addressed by doing something other than just asking students to do stuff they’re disinclined to do.”

Police stopped by the home while Lyles was there, but they told him they couldn’t do anything about the crowd, which fell into the health department’s jurisdiction, not the police department’s. Lyles noted that the health department is closed on weekends.

Over the course of a 1.5 mile walk around the neighborhood, he saw two parties that definitely violated the county health limit on gatherings of more than 45 people, and two parties that he said at the very least “violated common sense.”

But, Lyles added, he also saw about 30 groups outside other homes

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WH cites 1st Amendment in defending Trump rallies that flout COVID restrictions

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s crowded rallies that contradict local COVID-19 rules and his own administration’s health guidance — saying supporters are exercising their First Amendment rights.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 8, 2020.

© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Supporters cheer as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Smith Reynolds Regional Airport in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 8, 2020.

She argued there is a double-standard when it comes to allowing crowds at protests — hours before the Trump campaign announced airport hangar rallies in Nevada planned for this weekend have been cancelled.

After touting the president’s coronavirus response in North Carolina, a reporter asked McEnany at an afternoon White House briefing why the president chose to host a rally there with thousands of people, many not wearing masks, on Tuesday night when the state has limited its outdoor gatherings to 50 people and mandated masks in public.

MORE: Trump admitted he deliberately played down coronavirus threat: Reports

“People have a First Amendment right if they so choose to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest which is what the president has held and there is a real double standard here,” McEnany said.

a person holding a sign: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 9, 2020.

© Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 9, 2020.

“CNN had on a guest, apparently a doctor, Rob Davidson, who said, ‘Now, true, there are social distancing issues with regard to the protests around the country. However, this is a public health crisis. They are marching against systemic racism.’ So if you’re allowed to march in aggregate in those protests, you are also allowed to show up at a political rally. You have a First Amendment right in this country,” she continued.


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Shortly after the briefing, the Trump campaign announced its airport hangar rallies scheduled in Nevada this weekend had been cancelled, which presumably would have flouted the state’s COVID-19 restrictions limiting public gatherings to 50 people, and said that Trump would instead still hold other events in the state.

The Trump campaign said 15,000 supporters showed up at its airport-hanger rally on Tuesday night, and most attendees were packed together and not wearing masks, despite the state’s restrictions that outdoor gathering shouldn’t exceed 50 persons.

MORE: Coronavirus news: University imposes quarantine for all students

The White House coronavirus task force recently identified North Carolina as having the 18th highest rate of cases in the U.S. and recommended enforced social distancing and mask mandates — but McEnany vehemently defended the gathering on Wednesday.

“If people want to show up and express their political views, that’s their choice to do so. We hand out masks, we encourage the individuals to wear those masks. A lot of people did, I was in North Carolina last night and saw it. We give out hand sanitizer. But at the end of the day, if you want to join a

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