Lenawee County limits size of outdoor social gatherings after COVID-19 outbreaks at colleges

Health department reports 182% increase in confirmed COVID‐19 cases among 18‐24 year‐olds in Lenawee County

Siena Heights University campus in Adrian, Mich.
Siena Heights University campus in Adrian, Mich. (Dwight Burdette -- Creative Commons)

The Lenawee County Health Department issued an emergency order Thursday to limit the size of social gatherings or events within Adrian Township, Madison Township, the city of Adrian and all college owned or controlled properties.

No more than 25 people may gather at outdoor events in these places now. That is a reduction from 100. Similar local orders have been issued in East Lansing and Ann Arbor.

The health department said the local order “enhances existing state orders and further restricts social gatherings in areas at increased risk for COVID‐19 outbreaks.” Officials are reporting a 182% increase in confirmed COVID‐19 cases among 18‐24 year‐olds in Lenawee County in the month of August.

This order takes effect on Friday, Sept. 3, 2020 at 12 p.m. and will remain in effect until amended or rescinded.

COVID-19 outbreaks at colleges

The health department is making this move in response to COVID-19 outbreaks at both Adrian College and Siena Heights University.

“There has been a large increase in cases since students returned to colleges and universities in Lenawee County. Adrian College has reported 152 COVID‐19 cases, with 138 of those cases being active cases. Siena Heights University has reported two positive cases; both active cases. As of September 3, 2020, Lenawee County has reported a total of 613 confirmed cases of COVID‐19, an increase of 34 from the day prior,” said Martha Hall, R.S., M.P.H., Health Officer for the Lenawee County Health Department. “In the month of August, there was a 182% increase in confirmed COVID‐19 cases among 18‐24 year‐olds in Lenawee County; compared to a 51% increase among all age groups during the same time period. Large social gatherings have demonstrated an increased public health risk with potential for further disease transmission. Restrictions on the size of outdoor The mission of the Lenawee County Health Department is to promote a safe and healthy environment. Gatherings, along with other prevention strategies, will help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.”

Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 or fewer people not of the same household, as per Michigan Executive Order 2020‐160. At any gathering or event, inside or out, individuals not living in the same household should keep a minimum of 6 feet distance from one another. Face coverings continue to be required in indoor public settings and any crowded outdoor setting where individuals are unable to consistently maintain 6 feet of distance under Executive Order 2020‐153.

Adrian College recommendations

The Lenawee County Health Department said it has made the following recommendations to Adrian College:

  • Adjust student housing as necessary to properly isolate COVID‐19 positive students separate from students who have not tested positive.
  • Suspend all in‐person classes for a two‐week period, only allowing in‐person instruction for the lab portion of classes by appointment, to allow for proper social distancing.
  • Suspend all group sports practices, conditioning activities and other group activities for a two‐week period.
  • Suspend use of indoor dining areas and increase availability of take‐out and delivery options using a model where students can properly social distance.
  • Close all common areas for a two‐week period and close the Merillat Fitness Center, Arrington Ice Arena, indoor gyms per Executive Order 2020‐160.
  • Continue to enforce requirements to wear face coverings, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, limit gatherings and continue prevention messaging regarding hand washing.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.