State names schools with COVID-19 outbreaks as some near MSU ordered to isolate

Michigan News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service has started releasing the names of schools were coronavirus outbreaks have been identified, including Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University.

There are also outbreaks at the University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Hope College in Holland and Davenport University near Grand Rapids, among others.

Among the newest outbreaks was the one at MSU, where 203 students have been infected with the virus.

The Ingham County Health Department says it saw a more than 50% increase in cases since Aug. 24 and a rise in positive tests from 2% to 5%. It said the majority of all cases were MSU students.

As a result, county health officials on Monday ordered the people who live at 30 large houses in East Lansing to isolate for two weeks. Of those, 23 are fraternity or sorority houses and seven are rental houses.

“I do not take this lightly, but there is an outbreak centered on Michigan State University (MSU) and it is quickly becoming a crisis,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a statement. “The surge in cases we have seen over the past few weeks is alarming. I am disheartened to add that this outbreak is being fueled in part by a lack of cooperation and compliance from some MSU students, many residing in the properties now under mandatory quarantine. We must contain COVID-19 cases; however, within the MSU community we have been unable to do so with comprehensive contact tracing so other means of disease containment are necessary.”

Ingham County health officials had previously recommended self-isolation. On Monday, they made it mandatory. Violators could face jail time and fines.

But the largest outbreak at a university by far is at GVSU, where 438 students have tested positive for the virus.

CMU has 271 cases, Adrian College has 229 and Michigan nearly 80.

Michigan Tech is tracking its outbreaks broken down by Greek housing. In all, about 35 students have been affected.

MDHHS’s list, which includes K-12 schools, colleges and universities, will be updated weekly on Mondays. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases linked by place or time outside a household.

In West Michigan, K-12 schools where outbreaks have been identified did not have more than two cases. Statewide, the largest outbreak at a K-12 school was six.

Michigan’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun emphasized that if a school is named on the list, local health departments are already investigating the outbreak and contacting anyone who may have been exposed.

“Michigan schools are working hard to maintain a safe environment while also providing quality education,” she said in a statement.

STATEWIDE TRENDS

The release of statewide data from MDHHS was delayed Monday afternoon due to technical difficulties, but only by about an hour.

The latest data shows 1,088 additional cases of coronavirus were confirmed over the weekend (an average of 544 per day) and 10 more deaths were reported.

The figures bring the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 111,524 since the virus was first detected in Michigan in March and the number of deaths to 6,591.

The state is now combining case and death data from Saturdays and Sundays into a single report published Mondays. Regardless of when the state releases its public updates, the cases are being broken down by the date symptoms developed.

Wayne County, hit hardest by the virus, confirmed 199 more cases over the weekend for a total of 31,353 since the start of the outbreak and one more death for a total of 2,773. Oakland County has had 15,661 cases (102 more since Friday) and 1,136 deaths (one more). Macomb County has had 13,259 cases (82 more) and 956 deaths (two more).

One of the 10 deaths was in Kent County, which has now see 170 dead. The county also confirmed 77 more cases over the two days for a total of 8,326 since the start of the outbreak.

Van Buren County had one more death for a total of 15. It has had 626 confirmed cases.

Statewide, hospitalization figures remain low, as do the numbers of deaths each day. The number of new cases per million people per day appears to have decreased slightly in recent weeks.

On Saturday, labs in Michigan tested 19,889 samples for the virus and 593 came back positive for a positivity rate of 2.98%. On Sunday, 31,619 samples were tested and 794 were positive. The positivity rate was 2.51%.

The number of positive tests and new cases do not match because people may be tested more than once.

However, the seven-day average for the percentage of positive tests has crept up recently, reaching 3.7% as of Thursday, the most recent day for which the state’s MI Start Map lists data. Public health officials want it to be below 3% as an indication that community spread is under control.

By all metrics, however, the state of Michigan’s outbreak now is much better than it was at its peak in the spring.

In an effort to keep the virus under control, the state is launching a $5 million PSA campaign to urge people to wear masks, which officials have said is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep the virus from spreading.

You should also wash your hands frequently and maintain a 6-foot distance from others whenever possible. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who has it, health officials want you to get tested.

MDHHS on Monday set testing protocols for Michigan’s five state-run psychiatric hospitals: the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline, Hawthorn Center in Northville, Caro Center, Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Westland and Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Those hospitals must test all new staff, test all employees who come into contact with COVID-19 or who has symptoms and test all staff weekly at facilities where a patient or staff member has had the virus within the previous two weeks. Staff members who meeting testing requirements won’t be allowed to work if they don’t get a test.

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