East Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — It was two weeks ago when a popular bar frequented by Michigan State University students, Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub, was found to have 14 cases of COVID-19 linked to it.
Now, there are at least 173 COVID-19 cases traced to the restaurant. Of the 174, 141 are primary cases and 33 are secondary cases, meaning 33 people who contracted COVID-19 did not visit Harper’s, but interacted with someone who did visit the restaurant.
Harper’s is a popular college bar and restaurant where Michigan State University students go to enjoy nights out throughout the year and summer break.
There is one issue though, especially now during the pandemic. The line the students form outside is not socially-distancing friendly.
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s lifted restrictions on restaurants and bars took effect June 8, MSU students flocked back to the bars.
And inside, nobody was social distancing or wearing a mask.
Harper’s owners Pat and Trisha Riley responded with a COVID-19 mitigation plan after 25 cases had been linked to the restaurant. In an e-mail sent out June 24 the owners wrote:
“So before we are-open, we are investing in new air filtration technology as well as a virtual line management app that will help negate city sidewalk lines that we have no control or authority over.”
They also released a set of safety guidelines, sanitation, and protection procedures, including one that would provide free face masks to all customers upon entering.
That was before Governor Gretchen Whitmer yesterday mandated that all bars in Lower Michigan cease indoor service. The order applies to all establishments whose gross profits from alcohol are greater than 70 percent.
Here are the following events that have transpired since the Ingham County Health Department first traced COVID-19 cases to the East Lansing restaurant.
Wednesday, June 24: At least 25 COVID-19 cases linked to East Lansing Bar, later updated to 34 linked cases
The Ingham County Health Department first advised people who were at the East Lansing establishment June 12-20 to watch for symptoms of the respiratory disease.
All of the people with cases linked to Harper’s are between the ages of 19 and 23. Approximately half are connected to Michigan State University (MSU). Some have permanent residence in other Michigan counties. The increase in Ingham County COVID-19 cases reported for June 22 was the largest the county has seen since May 27.
Thursday, June 25: The Ingham County Health Department urges anyone who visited Harper’s June 12-20 to self-quarantine as COVID-19 cases reach 43.
In the statement, the owners said they have temporarily closed and are investing in new air filtration technology as well as a virtual line management app to mitigate the city sidewalk lines.
Harper’s owners announced they will provide free face masks for all customers and operate at a 50% capacity.
According to the Ingham County Health Department none of the people who tested positive are hospitalized.
The age range of the cases is 16-28, with 21 being the average age.
Sunday, June 28:
Executive Order 2020-114 restricts restaurants to not only be at 50% capacity, but also less than 75 customers. The new limitation directly affects establishments with capacities of more than 150.
“Large crowds are difficult to control,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “By allowing no more than 75 people, restaurants and bars will be better able to enforce social distancing and the use of masks and face coverings. I strongly encourage all bars and restaurants to strictly enforce safety measures and to do all they can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our community.”
Those who disregard the order could be subject to a misdemeanor that includes up to 90 days in jail as well as a fine of up to $200.
Leroy’s Classic Bar & Grill announced on Facebook that the restaurant was temporarily closing down after someone in the restaurant had tested positive for COVID-19.
Today Leroy’s attorney released a statement confirming that person was an employee who was also working at Harper’s in East Lansing, a business with at least 107 coronavirus cases linked to it.
Of the 118 total cases, 104 are primary cases and 14 are secondary, which means 14 people who were not at Harper’s caught it from someone who went to the bar.
Wednesday, July 1: Whitmer order closes indoor service at bars throughout lower Michigan