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Throngs of UI students at bars raise alarm

IOWA CITY (AP) — University of Iowa students and several bars in Iowa City are facing criticism after throngs of young adults were seen crowded together outside and within the venues — most without masks — just hours before in-person classes were to start Monday at the university and many Iowa K-12 schools.

Iowa City police took a complaint just after 1 a.m. Sunday that several bars were all over capacity and not enforcing a mask mandate, The Gazette reported.

A reporter with The Gazette also checked several bars around midnight and confirmed that most did not appear to be enforcing social distancing inside or mask wearing ordered by Iowa City’s mayor.

The scene came only a day after university officials issued a campus message reminding students to wear face coverings in accordance with city and county mandates and to keep at least 6 feet apart when possible.

News of the unruly scenes came as the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 471 new known coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours as of Monday morning. The state reported a total of 56,584 confirmed cases and 1,039 deaths — including five from Sunday to Monday — since the outbreak began. Hospitalizations and patients admitted to intensive care also have been trending upward this month, the department’s online virus portal shows.