Wednesday, September 30, 2020

With 342 MSU-affiliated COVID-19 cases, all local students recommended to self-quarantine

September 12, 2020
<p>First aid kit. Design by: Genna Barner</p>

First aid kit. Design by: Genna Barner

Photo by Genna Barner | The State News

With at least 342 people affiliated with Michigan State University testing positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 24, Ingham County Health Department urges all local MSU students self-quarantine immediately to contain the outbreak.

In a release sent Saturday, ICHD states the self-quarantine period should last for 14 days, continuing until Sept. 26. Students should remain at home other than to attend any in-person instruction, labs and intercollegiate athletic training or to obtain necessary food or supplies.

This is not an emergency order; however, more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply, the release said. 

“This is an urgent situation,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in the release. “The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases must stop. I am concerned about the health and safety of the MSU community, and importantly, I am seriously concerned that unchecked transmission locally will affect the health and safety of all Ingham County residents. If we do not slow the spread immediately, we will be dealing with the consequences across the county for months to come.”

Only 23 MSU-affiliated people tested positive in the three weeks prior to the case surge, the release said. The uptick in cases began as students returned to East Lansing for the fall semester with many holding binding off-campus leases.

“MSU is committed to doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” MSU Physician David Weismantel said in the release. “The safety of our entire community is a priority and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus. This recommendation from the health department is another tool to help us do just that.”

"At least one-third of the new cases recently attended parties or social gatherings and at least one-third of those gatherings are associated with a fraternity or sorority," according to the release.

The health department will evaluate congregate settings, such as houses licensed for more than 10 unrelated people over the coming days to determine if additional measures are needed, the release said. 

“We are urging students to understand the imperative role that they play in stopping this community spread and, ultimately, saving lives,” East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens said in the release. “While we know many students are doing the right thing, we are still seeing far too many social gatherings in the off-campus community, where individuals are in close contact without face coverings. This person-to-person contact is the main way that the virus spreads and has contributed significantly to the recent spike in student cases. We support this recommendation from the Ingham County Health Department.”

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