EAST LANSING, Mich. –The Ingham county health department is strongly recommending all local Michigan State University students self-quarantine, after At least 342 people affiliated with MSU, have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) since August 24.
“I think it’s a good idea, because I think students keep going out so maybe the two weeks it will stop spreading,” said MSU junior, Hannah Kaczor.
Many students have been understanding.
“I understand where they’re coming from, I’m sure most students do but I don’t know, we’re on campus and it’s hard because you still want to be downtown,” said MSU freshman, Mckenna Kloeb.
Some think that even with this quarantine, the virus will still spread.
“Eventually most people are going to get it, so and eventually it will become something like the flu or the common cold,” said Kloeb.
Self-quarantine should last for 14 days, continuing until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, September 26. This recommendation is not an emergency order; however, more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply and break the transmission cycle. In the three weeks prior to the case surge, only 23 MSU-affiliated people tested positive.
“This is an urgent situation,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “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.”
With hundreds of cases within the last few weeks, Vail says she didn’t expected this many cases.
“Uh yeah I’m surprised, I thought with all the online learning and all of the restrictions in place, of course we were going to see some cases but I didn’t predict a giant and severe spike like this in the last several days,” said Vail.
She added that the rise in cases in the state is largely due to the rise in MSU student cases, and those MSU cases have been linked to social gatherings.
“We can socialize if we socialize safely, we can’t if we don’t, this is what happens, when we don’t,” said Vail.
Students in quarantine should remain at home for the next two weeks other than to attend in-person instruction, labs, and intercollegiate athletic training. They may also leave their homes to work or to obtain food, medicine, medical care, or supplies that are needed to sustain or protect life when such cannot be obtained via delivery.
The uptick in cases began as students returned to the East Lansing community for the fall semester. Although MSU classes are predominately online, many students had binding off-campus leases or simply desired to physically return to the university community.
“MSU is committed to doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Michigan State University Physician David Weismantel. “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 a third of new cases recently attended parties or social gatherings, and at least one third of those gatherings are associated with a fraternity or sorority.
“We are urging students to understand the imperative role that they play in stopping this community spread and, ultimately, saving lives,” said East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens. “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.”
The health department will evaluate congregate settings such as houses licensed for more than ten unrelated people over the coming days to see if additional measures are warranted.