East Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — Ingham County health officials confirm more than 1,200 cases of COVID-19 are directly related to the Michigan State University community.
“MSU related is an MSU student, an MSU faculty, an MSU staff,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said during a weekly health briefing Tuesday.
More than 600 of those cases were confirmed the during week of Sept. 14 alone.
“I’m kind of feeling like I’m running out of tools in my toolbox,” Vail said.
After urging local all MSU students to self-isolate and issuing a mandatory quarantine on dozens of large houses in East Lansing, Vail said there’s a new challenge.
“I do see testing starting to drop off in the MSU community in general,” she said.
That could be a result of fewer people getting ill, but she added, there have been reports of students under mandatory quarantine simply not getting tested. While those reports can’t be traced back to any particular person, Vail said she has heard comments that a mandatory quarantine is discouraging those students from choosing to get tested. While some students view the order as a punishment, Vail said that isn’t the intent.
“This is protection. It’s protection for them, it’s protection for their other students that they engage with, their roommates, and it’s protection of the broader community,” Vail said.
She added, some students have refused to cooperate with the health department in general.
“We are hearing that a lot. ‘Nope, I won’t give you that information, nope, I won’t tell you that, nope, I won’t tell you’. I mean, they may have a non local address but they do live locally and they will refuse to give us that address. Any number of things including just hanging up on us,” Vail said.
So, what more can be done? Some universities have issued a student-wide shelter in place and others have banned social gatherings altogether. Vail says nothing is really off the table if cases continue to rise, and simply not getting tested, could just make things worse.
“Large availability of testing, followed by contact tracing, followed by isolation and quarantine is the way to contain the spread of this virus so when we can’t do that we have no way to contain this.”