CORRECTION: An overview of COVID-19 at MSU

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<<<This story was corrected, to fix the number of Coronavirus cases linked to MSU since July 27th.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan State University is reporting 1,486 positive coronavirus cases among its students, staff and employees since July 27.

Of those 1,486 reported by the Ingham County Health Department, MSU clinical testing found 431 of them.

MSU began online classes on September 2 with many students moving back into the City of East Lansing at the end of August.

Most of the outbreaks occurred at large houses, which prompted the Ingham County Health Department on Sept 14. to issue a mandatory two-week quarantine for 23 fraternity and sorority houses and seven other off-campus apartments after discovering people living in these properties were exposed to COVID-19.

“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 official Linda Vail said. “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.”

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. even looked into interim suspensions for students from the university who fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

This includes individuals that have hosted parties and gatherings and those that have refused to cooperate with contact tracing,” said MSU President Stanley.

An MSU spokesperson said on Sept. 11. that 24 cases were currently under review for interim suspension measures. The short-term measures were put in place if a student’s continued presence at the university poses a clear and present danger to the health or safety of people or property.

Back in August, as students were moving into off-campus residences, 6 News’ Araceli Crescencio reported MSU students felt confident in their peers to make smart decisions in social distancing.

“I trust MSU students to think for themselves and to limit the people they are hanging out with to be able to do things down the line,” MSU residential assistant Alexis Parsell said.

The same day the health department issued a quarantine for those properties, MSU representatives told 6 News the university identified 161 new cases of coronavirus linked to MSU since September 6.

Of the 161 people, 160 are students and one is an employee at MSU. The cases were linked to off-campus social gatherings in which masks were not worn.

“This is an urgent situation,” Vail said. “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.”

On the date the mandatory two-week quarantine was issued for 30 East Lansing properties, health officials announced an “astounding number of cases and an exponential spike in cases” led Ingham County to have the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the entire state of Michigan, 6 News Brittany Flowers reported.

According to the health department, Ingham County saw a 52 percent increase in cases between Aug. 24. and Sept. 14. More than half of all new cases were in East Lansing with the vast majority being MSU students.

“It’s gonna be really really hard to contain unless we, at this point in time take some drastic measures,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said.

Not long after, on September 22, MSU was found to have been underreporting the number of COVID-19 cases on its coronavirus tracker web page, Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said.

The number of cases reported at the time was 499, but Vail said more than 1,250 cases were confirmed at MSU since August 24.

After the underreporting came to light, MSU updated its coronavirus web page to reflect the county’s numbers.

During the week of September 28, 56 new cases were detected with a 10% positivity rate, but this week, the positivity rate is down to 5.6% compared with the state of Michigan’s 3.4% positivity rate.

In a live press conference in August, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health and Human Services said a positive testing rate of under 3% is a sign the spread of the virus is under control.

The Associated Press’ David Eggert reported the 7-day positivity rate for the state of Michigan has risen over the past two weeks from 2.4% to 3.1% as of Oct. 4.

Overall, the case positivity rate among MSU employees and students has been declining, but so have the number of tests.

During the week of September 28, 289 tests were conducted among MSU students, staff and faculty compared with the peak-testing number during the week of September 14, which was 1,015 tests.

For more information surrounding the coronavirus pandemic on MSU’s campus, reference the MSU COVID-19 tracker here and the Michigan COVID-19 dashboard here.

If you need to get a COVID-19 test, refer to the Michigan.Gov COVID-19 testing website here to find a testing place.

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