Fraternity parties blamed for UC Berkeley COVID-19 outbreak

BERKELEY, Calif. -- UC Berkeley has a message for students - stop partying.

"I think it's really stupid," said Cal student and sorority member, Olive Curreri.

Curreri and other members of UC Berkeley sororities and fraternities are disappointed, but not surprised, that a COVID-19 outbreak was traced back to a series of parties connected to the Greek system.

"I live sandwiched in between two other fraternities and I have personally definitely heard things going on until two or three in the morning," said Curreri.

According to University Health Services, 47 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in one week, which tripled the number of total university cases over the entire pandemic to 70.

Many students rent rooms in fraternity houses, which are privately owned, over the summer and not all of them are members of the Greek system.

"I know a lot of people who have said they've gotten sick, or friends have told me that they have friends who have gotten sick in the Greek community," said Milton Zerman, who said his fraternity is not involved in the outbreak. But, he knows about the parties that were...

"Max 30-40 people, more of local get together with friends and friends of friends," said Zerman who said people were not social distancing or wearing masks at the parties.

Several students told ABC7 news reporter Kate Larsen that a specific fraternity held the parties, but the University hasn't said which house is responsible.

"Just in the streets you see massive crowds of women, individuals, men gathered and just ready to go to some house. They're dressed in party attire," said Chris Arellano, a student and president of Pi Lambda Phi. He says the Interfraternity Council explicitly instructed fraternities not to throw parties.

"You don't want COVID, you don't throw parties," said Arellano.

UC Berkeley proposed a combination of in-person and online classes in the fall, but according to UC Berkeley spokesperson, Janet Gilmore, "if we're seeing this level of increase at this rate in COVID cases, then we may have to rethink our plans for the fall."

"It really bothers me. It puts our classes at risk, it puts other people in the area at risk, it's not just students who live here," said Curreri.

Cal says the outbreak did spread to households and people outside the Greek community.

For more news coverage on the coronavirus and COVID-19 go to ABC30.com/coronavirus
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