Back-to-back weekend parties at park near NYU raise coronavirus concerns

People with and without masks gather in Washington Square Park at night as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on September 12, 2020 in New York City.

New York officials are working to curb large gatherings in Washington Square Park after parties two weekends in a row raised concern over coronavirus spread.

"Our Parks Enforcement Patrol officers were patrolling the park this weekend -- they corrected multiple amplified sound, alcohol and smoking conditions while also distributing masks and educating patrons on social distancing," New York City Parks spokeswoman Megan Moriarty told CNN in a statement.

Officials at New York University, where four new Covid-19 cases were reported Saturday, said they are concerned about student gatherings at the park but have no jurisdiction there.

Across the country, colleges and universities in all 50 states have reported more than 37,000 coronavirus cases. Students have packed fraternity houses and dorm hallways and snaked their way through bars -- all venues for virus transmission. Some schools have transitioned to virtual classes, at least for a time, to reduce the spread.

Though once the US epicenter of the coronavirus, New York state on Sunday marked its 37th day of infection rates below 1%.

New York University officials will partner with the city on enforcement measures and deploy representatives outside Washington Square Park entrances to hand out personal protective equipment, NYU spokesman John Beckman said in a statement Sunday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week said NYU officials and police have not done enough to break up gatherings in Washington Square Park. He pointed to a gathering with students that went on for hours and at which many did not wear masks.

"Frankly, NYU security didn't do anything about it, local police didn't do anything about it," Cuomo said.

NYU was investigating the incident, it said.

"That is not tough... not tough by the NYU administrators, who as soon as they heard about it, they should have said stop it," Cuomo said. "Send the NYU security, break it down."

CNN's Alec Snyder and Laura Ly contributed to this report.

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