SALINE, Mich. – A large house party in Saline over the holiday weekend has led to 43 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19), 66 exposed close contacts and several exposure locations at stores, restaurants, businesses and recreation areas across Metro Detroit, in Northern Michigan and even out of state.
Officials from the Washtenaw County Health Department said the majority of the 43 new cases are in people ages 15-25. They are connected to a large house party that was held July 2-July 3 in the Saline area, officials said.
Since the party, additional events and workplace exposures led to 66 exposed close contacts, not including family members in the immediate households of people with confirmed cases, according to officials.
Health experts define close contacts as anyone who had face-to-face contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more.
“This is a very clear example of how quickly this virus spreads and how many people can be impacted in a very short amount of time” said Jimena Loveluck, a health officer with the Washtenaw County Health Department. “We cannot hope to accomplish our goal of containing COVID-19 and preventing additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths without full community support and cooperation.”
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So far, the outbreak at the house party has been linked to exposures in people at retail stores, restaurants, businesses, canoe liveries, clubs, camps, athletic teams and a retirement community, officials said.
There are “at least several” exposures in other counties, as well as two in Northern Michigan and one out of state because people traveled while infected, health officials said.
Contact tracers are working to notify people who might have been exposed and instruct them to self-quarantine.
Anyone who was at the party or knows they were exposed should self-quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days, health experts said. Seek immediate testing if any unusual symptoms appear, they said. A negative test done prior to 14 days does not eliminate the need to self-quarantine.
“We need people of all ages, including young people, to take COVID-19 seriously and follow public health guidelines and instructions,” Loveluck said. “That means avoiding large gatherings without physical distancing or face coverings. It also means cooperating with the health department to complete case investigation and contact tracing.”
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Health officials are working to reach everyone identified as a close contact. If you have not returned a call or followed guidance to isolate or self-quarantine, please reconsider and help contain the outbreak.
“None of us wants to be the reason someone in our community or county becomes seriously ill or dies,” Saline Mayor Brian D. Marl said. “We have the opportunity to work together and with our local health department to contain this as quickly as possible. We know what we need to do, and we can certainly do it.”
At this time, any public exposures at these locations are considered low risk, which is assumed at any public location because the virus is circulating in the community.
If close, personal contacts are identified at these or other locations and the individuals cannot be contacted directly, the health department will name the locations.
To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, everyone should wear a face covering, maintain six feet of distance from people who don’t live in your household and wash hands frequently.
Testing is recommended for anyone reporting to work in person, anyone with known exposure or anyone with mild or unusual symptoms. Symptoms can take up to 14 days after exposure to appear, and patients are considered contagious two days before symptoms appear.