Health officials push importance of testing after COVID variant outbreak at University of Michigan

‘It’s a bummer,’ student says of sports hiatus, ‘but it’s definitely the right thing to do.’

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is emphasizing the importance of COVID-19 testing with additional cases of the variant B.1.1.7 detected in a Wayne County resident and among people associated with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is emphasizing the importance of COVID-19 testing after an outbreak on the University of Michigan campus.

READ: Michigan Athletics put on pause -- Athletes, coaches, team-staff asked to quarantine

Five cases of the highly-contagious variant B.1.1.7 are linked to the university’s athletics department.

School officials said they are doing everything they can to prevent the spread after one student tested positive.

Some students at the University aren’t too thrilled at the fact that sports have been suspended due to the new variant of coronavirus.

“It’s definitely a bummer,” said student Christie Gillies. “The variant is in our county, so it’s definitely the right thing to do. As president Schlissel was saying, if it’s in this county, then it’s definitely at our school. It’s just a matter of time.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said all athletic activities in all sports -- including games, team and individual training sessions -- have been paused in response to the multiple confirmed and suspected cases of the variant B.1.1.7.

Washtenaw County Health Department Medical Director Juan Luis Marquez said the suspension is necessary to make sure no one else is being placed at risk since the new variant is easier to spread from person-to-person.

“The idea really is to try to contain the variant as much as we can,” Marquez said. “The ultimate strategy is to delay this more infectious strain and basically buy us time to vaccinate the most vulnerable populations.”

With that said, expect everything in the collegiate sports world to be on hold for the time being. But at least the vaccine making rounds signifies we’re at least one step closer to normalcy.

“I think everybody kind of sees the light at the end of the tunnel and a lot of people have been vaccinated already at Michigan,” Gillies said. “So it’s looking good here,”

“At the end of the day, public safety is honestly the most important thing, but it is too bad,” said student Tommy Hendricks. “Hopefully we just stay safe and kids get vaccinated and then later in February, we’ll be able to resume as normal.”

Related: Michigan health officials concerned over COVID variants

Residents can find COVID-19 test sites in their communities on Michigan’s official website..

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.