Ingham County, Mich. (WLNS)– Health officials say an “astounding number of cases and an exponential spike in cases” has led Ingham County to have the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in the entire state of Michigan.
According to the health department, Ingham County has seen a 52 percent increase in cases since Aug. 24. More than half of all new cases are 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.
The health department issued a mandatory quarantine Monday afternoon, for 30 different properties in East Lansing. Of all the houses, 23 were fraternities and sororities. The 7 others were large rental houses.
“Mandatory quarantine is something that is obviously important especially for these bigger houses where you’re looking at 30 people living in the same space, so one case can turn into many very very quickly and so it’s important that these folks take this seriously,” East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens said.
So, why would some students not take the virus seriously?
“The things I hear is you know, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal for us, we don’t get that sick so, we’re gonna be fine'”, Vail said adding, “but we do know that there can be heart issues, there have been strokes, there’s been multi-organ issues in young people.”
Vail said these ideas could be the result of a lack of communication. She said statistically, younger people do tend to have milder symptoms, and hospitalization and death rates are lower than those who are older or have underlying health conditions.
“How do you get the message across about how that impacts the rest of their family, their coworkers, you know, the people in the house? You’ve got cooks coming into these houses, housemothers coming into this house that are not of that age group so how do you, you know… how do you get that message across?” Vail questioned.
While she said the increase can’t necessarily be referred to as an outbreak, because the cases are in different pockets of the community, she’s worried about what could happen if numbers don’t get under control.
“This kind of spike right now concerns me about the deaths that I’m gonna see in October and November.”
Vail said one of the biggest issues leading to the spike has been failure to follow social gathering limits.
“We hear it. You know, ‘I was at a party with 40 people, I was at a party with this many people indoors.’ It’s like, why is that happening?”
Vail said she hopes this order is as far as the health department has to go, but what if students don’t follow it?
“We’re gonna have to think of what other options we have. I guess we could prohibit social gatherings altogether,” Vail said.