185 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases now linked to outbreak at East Lansing bar

143 of 185 infected people were customers at Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub

East Lansing COVID-19 outbreak: Cases tied to bar continue to rise

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Ingham County health officials say a total of 185 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are now tied to an outbreak at a bar in East Lansing as of Saturday evening.

On June 23, officials said more than a dozen people who visited Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub between June 12-20 had tested positive for COVID-19. In just over two weeks, that number has ballooned by more than 180 confirmed cases.

Of the 185 people who have tested positive, 143 of them visited Harper’s, officials said.

Health officials have identified 42 secondary cases, or people who got infected by someone who visited Harper’s and contracted the virus.

Here is a breakdown of the confirmed case increases related to the outbreak since June 23:

The Harper’s COVID-19 outbreak has greatly contributed to the entire Lansing Region -- which includes Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham and Shiawassee counties -- being moved to the “high risk” category of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Map.

Bars and restaurants in Michigan were allowed to reopen June 8 with regulations designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. On July 1 Whitmer closed a number of indoor bars as COVID-19 cases began to increase at a more rapid pace around the state.

Nearly 25 percent of diagnoses in June were of people ages 20 to 29, up from roughly 16 percent in May. That shift aligns with national trends, and the evidence suggests that young people may be driving a new phase of the pandemic, according to state officials.

MORE: How people ignoring safety measures, packing into bars has led to COVID-19 spike

COVID-19 cases have since been increasing throughout Michigan, prompting Whitmer to sign an executive order Friday requiring face coverings to be worn in most indoor businesses and locations and some outdoor locations. The order was issued just before 612 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were announced by the state -- the highest one-day total in Michigan since May.

Businesses will also be required to refuse entry or service to those who don’t comply with face covering requirements.

READ: Violation of Michigan mask order now a misdemeanor subject to $500 fine

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.

“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 COVID-19 can call their doctor or visit a testing site.

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.

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.