Cases rose as students returned to the area for the fall, officials said.
All Michigan State University students have been asked to immediately quarantine themselves for the next two weeks in an attempt to contain the “exponential growth”
At least 342 people affiliated with East Lansing School have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Aug. 24, according to the Ingham County’s Health Department. There were only 23 such cases in the three weeks prior, officials said. Cases increased as thousands of students returned to the area for the fall semester.
At least a third of people who tested positive had recently attended parties or social gatherings – and at least a third of them were linked to a fraternity or sisterhood, the health department said.
“This is an urgent situation,” said Linda S. Vail, Ingham County’s health officer, in a statement released Saturday. “The exponential growth in COVID-19 cases must stop. I am concerned about the health and safety of the MSU community, and most importantly, I am seriously concerned that an unchecked spot transmission could affect the health and safety of all Ingham Counties will affect. “
“If we don’t slow the spread immediately, we’ll be looking at the consequences across the county in the coming months,” she added.
Through September 26 at 11:59 p.m., students are encouraged to attend in-person classes, labs, and sports training only. You can also go to work and for groceries, medicines, medical supplies, or other necessary supplies that are not available by delivery.
The recommendation is not an emergency order, although the health department warned that “stricter and more binding restrictions will be imposed if students fail to comply with and interrupt the transmission cycle”.
The university backed the recommendation. In the statement, Michigan State Doctor David Weismantel said quarantine was “another tool” to prevent the virus from spreading.
East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens also spoke out in favor of the Department of Health’s recommendation. “Although we know that many students are doing the right thing, we still see far too many social gatherings in the off-campus community, where individuals with no face covering are in close contact,” he said in the statement.
The state of Michigan has limited personal tuition for the fall and has limited the number of students living on campus. According to the Lansing State Journal, about 1,200 students live in on-campus apartments and under 2,000 in dormitories. An indefinite number of students live off-campus in the region. The school has almost 50,000 students in total.
In July, all members of the university’s soccer team had to be quarantined or isolated after two members of the soccer staff and a student-athlete tested positive for COVID-19.
The University of Illinois is currently in a similar situation as it tries to quell a recent surge in cases. Until September 16, undergraduate students are advised to leave their homes only for essential activities such as eating, working, or taking mandatory COVID-19 tests, and not to gather in groups.
ABC News’s Greg Bradbury and Matt Foster contributed to this report.