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University of Michigan given emergency stay-at-home order amid spike in coronavirus cases

University of Michigan given emergency stay-at-home order amid spike in coronavirus cases
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Undergraduate students at the University of Michigan are under an emergency stay-at-home order after the school accounted for most of the new coronavirus cases in Washtenaw County.

Washtenaw County has reported 4,229 total confirmed cases as of Monday, and more than 600 confirmed and probable cases were reported since Oct. 12. The university has reported over 1,000 cases since the fall semester began in August.

The Washtenaw County Health Department issued the stay-at-hom directive on Tuesday because the school accounted for more than 60 percent of cases in the area.

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"There is current evidence that activity at or near the Ann Arbor campus is driven by social gatherings that do not adhere to the MDHHS epidemic orders and WCHD public health orders allowing indoor gatherings of no more than 10 individuals, with face coverings and a sustained distance of 6 feet or more between persons," the order reads. 

"In the middle of August, prior to move-in, U-M related cases were 2% of the total Washtenaw County cases. At the time of this order, U-M related cases are 61% of the total Washtenaw County cases," the order states. 

The order will remain in place until Nov. 3 at 7 a.m., unless the university continues to outpace the county in coronavirus cases. 

“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, a health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a statement. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”

Under the stay-at-home order, undergraduate students must remain in their residence unless they are going to class, accessing dining services, or “carrying out approved work that cannot be done virtually.” No visitors will be allowed on or off campus.

Students who want to return to a primary residence can do so after completing the University of Michigan's procedures for leaving campus. 

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Michigan students who are not experiencing symptoms will also be allowed to leave their residence to vote or participate in other election-related activities, attend religious events or obtain COVID-19 testing. 

The university said it will take additional steps “out of an abundance of caution” to provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. 

“This action is intended to reduce the strain on our capacities for contact tracing and quarantine and isolation housing,” Robert Ernst, executive director of the University of Michigan's health service and associate vice president for Student Life, said in a statement. “Many individuals and off-campus residences are cooperating fully, and we hope this additional guidance on limiting social activities reverses the trend of increased cases related to social gatherings.”

Michigan reported 165,994 cumulative cases of the virus on Tuesday, and 7,383 deaths.