COVID-19 outbreak at Florida State University as students share unmasked party videos on social media

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Florida State University stands near the top of the list for coronavirus-stricken colleges in the state and its popular nightlife provides a glimpse into how it made it to the number three spot – thanks to images shared across social media by bars, nightclubs and students. 

The school recently came in as the 19th-best public university in the country, according to US News and World Report – but the Princeton Review also ranked it the 19th-best party school.

FSU’s website shows 15 students had tested in each of the last two weeks. That is down from 38 the week before that and 48 before Thanksgiving. But while cases appear to be scaling back, the school’s overall positivity rate was a whopping 7.61% on Oct. 1. But since students went home for Thanksgiving, it has since dropped to around 4.5% this week.

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Instagram posts tagged at popular local bars like Potbelly’s and Tenn Nightclub and Lounge show young people continue to take part in the local scene, packing into venues in close quarters without masks.

Recent photos posted to the Public House Tallahassee Facebook show young people, some of them in FSU clothing, standing close together indoors without masks. Tenn posted similar images Tuesday evening, and more images tagged at other student-friendly venues are retrievable on Instagram with a quick search. A Halloween party at Ken’s Tavern showed patrons were light on masks – as well as other types of clothing.

FSU has an undergrad student population of more than 33,000 and 1,814 total cases as of this week. For comparison, the University of Florida has about 35,000 undergrads but has reported at least 5,601 coronavirus cases among students, employees and affiliates.

At the start of the fall semester, Tallahassee police said they broke up a party of more than 1,000 people at an apartment complex popular among students living off-campus. The incident prompted campus administrators to cancel spring break.

A recent Instagram video shared by a sorority sister Tuesday – then quickly deleted – showed massive crowds of unmasked people at several different concerts and parties despite the rise of cases.

Tallahassee, Florida USA – October 13, 2010: The classic red brick architecture of the administration building of the Florida State University.

Some are calling a capiton in one of the videos disturbing. 

“This is why I got COVID,” freshman Maddy McEwen from Coral Springs, Florida wrote. It’s unclear when or whether she actually contracted coronavirus. Fox News did reach out to McEwen but she declined to comment.

The sorority girl's screenshots show large crowds of unmasked young people dancing and drinking in a tightly packed space, a DJ playing music, bartenders spraying champagne on revelers and other typical scenes from a college party night during non-pandemic times.

Classes came to an end for the semester on Dec. 4 at the Tallahassee college, but some students were still taking final exams this week.

Fifteen FSU students and four employees tested positive for the coronavirus this week, along with another 11 students at the nearby Florida A&M University, according to a report in the Tallahassee Democrat. Officials at both universities did not immediately respond to Fox News requests for comment.

Florida reported almost 8,000 new COVID-19 cases Monday and eight deaths.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for people who have beaten the illness to donate convalescent plasma in an effort to help treat others with serious cases of the virus.

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Under Phase 3 of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan, which DeSantis ordered on Sept. 25, bars and nightclubs that make more than 50% of their sales from alcohol can operate at full capacity with social distancing protocols.

FSU canceled its spring break to try to protect against the coronavirus spreading more than it already has. The school's move was made a week after the Tallahassee Police Department said it had to break up a party of more than 1,000 people gathered at the Tenn Street Apartments, where many FSU students live back in September. 

Fox News’ Paul best contributed to this report.

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