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Health officials ask Michigan State students to self-quarantine after outbreak

Health officials ask Michigan State students to self-quarantine after outbreak
© Wikimedia Commons

Local health officials asked Michigan State University (MSU) students to self-quarantine on Saturday after 342 students tested positive for coronavirus. 

"At least a third of new cases recently attended parties or social gatherings, and at least one third of those gatherings are associated with a fraternity or sorority," the Ingham County Health Department said in a statement.

The over 340 cases at the university of 50,000 date back to August 24, when students returned to the East Lansing, Mich., area. In the three weeks before that, only 23 people tested positive at the university. 

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The guidance is a recommendation, not an emergency order. The health department said “more stringent and mandatory restrictions will be imposed if students do not comply and break the transmission cycle.”

"This is an urgent situation," Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail said in a statement. "The exponential growth of COVID-19 cases must stop… If we do not slow the spread immediately, we will be dealing with the consequences across the county for months to come.”

Most classes at MSU are online, though “many students had binding off-campus leases or simply desired to physically return to the university community,” health officials said.

"MSU is committed to doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Michigan State University Physician David Weismantel said in the statement.

"The safety of our entire community is a priority and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus. This recommendation from the health department is another tool to help us do just that."

East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens urged students to forgo parties or social gatherings.

"We are still seeing far too many social gatherings in the off-campus community, where individuals are in close contact without face coverings,” Stephens said in a statement.