With Michigan State students set to move in next week, Ingham County Health Department issued an emergency order Tuesday, restricting outdoor gatherings to 25 people in the city of East Lansing near campus.
Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail issued the order effective immediately, and it will remain in place indefinitely, aiming to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Areas included in the restriction include much of downtown East Lansing extending from the northern edge of campus, chosen based on the areas where large house parties typically happen.
“The restricted area stretches from the northern edge of the Michigan State University campus to Burcham Drive and is bounded by Harrison Road to the west and Hagadorn Road to the east, including properties adjacent to those streets,” Health Communication Specialist and Public Information Officer Amanda Darche said. “County and city officials identified the area based on the frequency of noise ordinance violations historically occurring in the area due to large house parties.”
MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said the order is presented on a 'united front' to enhance health and safety.
“Partnership is key to reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Stanley said. "The lines that once divided campus from our neighbors are becoming less so in the spirit of protecting one another.”
Ingham County Health Department’s order is a seeks to prevent large outbreaks in East Lansing similar to those reported at colleges nationwide this past week.
“Large social gatherings can easily become super-spreading events and fuel the coronavirus pandemic,” Vail said. “Over the summer, we have seen this happen across the state and even here in our community. We must do everything we can to prevent another large, local outbreak. I urge everyone: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick — please help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
While gatherings are already restricted to 100 people in the region by under Executive Order 2020-160, Darche said that local officials felt more restrictions were necessary to combat the virus and limit chance of spread.
Action from the officials sprouted from Ingham County data, as nearly a third of all cases in the county are people of the ages 20-29.
Several of the cases relate back to the super-spreading event that happened at Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in June. As reported by State News reporter Kaishi Chharba, who took video that found the bar filled shoulder-to-shoulder with little-to-no masks or social distancing.
“While we are excited to welcome students back to the community, the only way to keep the community safe and our businesses open is to work together to help stop the spread of this virus,” East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas said. “By limiting the size of social gatherings, wearing masks in public spaces and following the other everyday preventative measures that public health officials have recommended, we can stay safe to stay open.”
This is a developing story. In our reporting, we'll focus on verifying information from credible sources. Stay with The State News for more updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the MSU and East Lansing community.
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