What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak linked to East Lansing bar

At least 43 people test positive after visiting Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub from June 12-20

Bars and restaurants in Michigan were allowed to reopen June 8 with regulations designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Bars and restaurants in Michigan were allowed to reopen June 8 with regulations designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Two weeks later, the Ingham County Health Department has issued a notice about an outbreak linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing.

UPDATE: 65 cases now linked to outbreak

As society and businesses reengage in public activity, the ideal scenario would be that precautions could prevent additional spread of the virus. But it’s not possible to completely eliminate the risk, and that’s where public health comes in to identify hotspots and spread the word to contain flare-ups.

Outbreak details

Health officials said Wednesday that at least 18 people who visited Harper’s have tested positive for the coronavirus. That number rose to 43 by Thursday.

The patients who tested positive were at the bar between June 12 and June 20. They are all between 19 and 23 years old, officials said. About half of the positive patients have a connection to Michigan State University, according to authorities. Some of them are permanent residents in other Michigan counties, officials said.

Health officials said anyone who visited the bar during that time period should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms can develop for up to 14 days after exposure.

Health officials respond

“Anyone could have COVID-19,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail said. “You never know because some people with coronavirus are not yet sick, and some people never have signs of the disease. We need people to treat every person they encounter as a potential carrier. That means wearing masks and keeping six feet away from others. I strongly urge everyone to take precautions so that we can keep infections down and keep businesses open.”

Inspectors from the health department said Harper’s followed appropriate safety protocols. The bar voluntarily closed Monday to eliminate lines and modify its HVAC system, officials said.

The increase in Ingham County COVID-19 cases reported for June 22 was the largest the county has seen since May 27.

“We know that the virus can be spread when people are in close proximity to each other and are not wearing face coverings,” MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. “These positive cases underscore the importance of personal responsibility among our students, faculty and staff, and taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others from the unnecessary transmission of COVID-19. This includes wearing a cloth face covering in public spaces and avoiding large gatherings. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of our Spartan community impacted by this virus and we wish them a speedy recovery. We will continue working in partnership with the health department to facilitate any necessary contact tracing and redouble our efforts to educate our community on the importance of the preventative measures we all should be taking.”

Anyone hoping to get tested for the coronavirus can call their doctor or visit a testing site.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.