Risk of COVID-19 put no stop to parties


A large group of students gather at a house party without social distancing on “801 day.”

Sage Smith

Social distancing and mask wearing was not a priority at Ames parties for the “801 day” weekend.

“We weren’t really sure what it would look like due to COVID,” said Jason Tuttle, commander for Ames Police Department. “But our experience was it looked very much like it did last year as far as the number of parties, intoxicated people, some of the other issues we’ve dealt with in the past.”

The number of calls for service the Ames police received were about the same as 2019’s 801 day — about 212 last year compared to about 220 this year — Tuttle explained.

While the number of calls were similar, arrests made were quite different. This year, three arrests were made compared to 19 the previous year.

“Part of that is because we’re trying to limit who we take to the jail due to COVID guidelines,” Tuttle said of arrests. “So this year we made a lot of phone calls [to] a friend to get people home safely — have them come pick up intoxicated individuals — where in years past they likely would have went to jail.”

Calls came in from Ames citizens who were upset with the parties of people not adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Social media also saw complaints, including the Ames People Facebook group and various tweets on Twitter.

Tuttle said the patio of AJ’s Ultra Lounge had a group of people not practicing social distancing or wearing face coverings Thursday night, before the 801 day weekend, which was “concerning to all of us,” he said.

Tuttle said the social get-togethers are “unfortunate” because he thinks the message of Iowa State and the city has been clear: they want people to abide by COVID-19 guidelines so the fall semester can be safe and healthy for students and Ames residents.

“I think the biggest concern is where are we going to be at in two weeks with our COVID cases,” Tuttle said.

The members of the Ames Police Department are also aware of and monitoring their own safety by wearing masks, keeping hand sanitizer in their vehicles and finding a balance between education and enforcement.

On Monday morning the Ames Police Department had a conference call with Iowa State University administration about the activities of the weekend and what to do moving forward.

They partnered with the university for Cyclones Care to encourage face coverings, hand washing, physical distancing and staying home when not feeling well.