Minority leaders discuss controversial DeLand block party, announce new COVID-19 testing site

Hundreds of people showed up to a DeLand block party where deputies say people were arrested and several deputies hurt on Saturday night, as they disregarded any social distancing guidelines. Thursday morning, the county's minority elected leaders and law enforcement got together to address the incident.

“COVID has a really unique way of bringing people together. The events that transpired over the last weekend, that started simple as a family gathering, turned out to be a major crowd,” said Ida Wright, Minority Elected Officials of Volusia County chairperson.

Wright talked about the threat the gathering posed to the community.

“African Americans are almost three times more likely, if they contract the disease, to pass away than any other demographic,” she said. 

Wright said they spoke with the party's organizers, and spread the word about testing in the Spring Hill neighborhood.

“We have a testing site that will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day the first 200 to walk up or drive in will be tested,” Wright said.

RELATED: Multiple arrested, deputies hurt after busting massive block party in Central Florida, Sheriff's Office says

The new testing site will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said there was nothing wrong with people getting outside, but people needed to follow the rules.

“We need to put our heads together and come up with a way that certain activities can be permitted, that are safe and that they're legal.”

Karl McNair, who lives in Spring Hill, said the block parties might still happen, and it would be unfair to crack down on everyone.

“You have street people and you have good people. You can't let some of the bad people pay for the whole community,” he said.

The sheriff's office says once the restrictions are eased-up a bit, they hope to have a series of seminars with law enforcement and the community to continue building trust between the two groups.