More East Lansing houses ordered to quarantine amid Michigan State University coronavirus outbreak

Emergency order mandates quarantine for houses, residents with known exposure to COVID-19

A sign outside the Michigan State University Student Union building alerts students to MSU's face covering rule on Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. Students at Michigan universities are receiving emails from their schools welcoming them back for the fall, but a cloud of concern is hovering because of the coronavirus pandemic. To go online or to come in person has been the debate, but since Michigan State University announced Tuesday it will go online for the next semester, the debate is reaching a fever pitch. (AP Photo/Anna Nichols) (Anna Nichols, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Ingham County Health Department has ordered residents of 39 large houses in East Lansing to self-quarantine amid an ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak among the Michigan State University community.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail issued an emergency order on Thursday afternoon to place an additional 11 houses and their residents under a mandatory quarantine.

An original emergency order was previously issued by the county that identified an initial 28 homes required to quarantine, in addition to two houses that have since been removed from the list after further review, officials said.

The 11 homes have been identified as having known exposure to COVID-19, according to officials. Residents at these homes are ordered to quarantine for the next two weeks.

“The current situation deeply concerns me for the MSU and East Lansing communities,” Vail said. “Beyond that, our inability to contain this extremely high level of transmission will adversely impact other communities, services and businesses in the county. Ingham County has the highest COVID-19 risk in the entire state of Michigan. We are truly in a crisis situation, especially in East Lansing. We must do all we can to contain the outbreak.”

Of the total 39 large houses currently placed under mandatory quarantine in East Lansing, 25 are fraternity and sorority houses and 14 are large rental houses.

Officials say a willful violation of the emergency order is a misdemeanor punishable by a $200 fine, imprisonment for up to 6 months or both.

The county’s order comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise among individuals associated with Michigan State.

On Sept. 13, officials said at least 342 people who are affiliated with the university have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 24.

The university announced 124 new COVID-19 cases among MSU students during the week of Aug. 31 through Sept. 8. Only two confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported among MSU employees at that time. The university only reported an increase of three new COVID-19 cases during the week of Aug. 24, and only four new cases during the week of Aug. 17.

Officials said last week that prior to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, only 23 MSU-affiliated individuals tested positive for the virus.

On Sept. 8, the Ingham County Health Department recommended -- but did not issue a mandatory order -- that all students at Michigan State University self-quarantine for two weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Health officials said Thursday that the city of East Lansing has experienced a 315% increase in COVID-19 cases since Sept. 1 -- with 80% of all new cases concentrated among students at Michigan State University.

The county’s current rate of 252 COVID-19 cases per million people surpasses the state’s “very high risk” threshold by 360%, officials said.

The Ingham County Health Department says it will continue to monitor the situation and add additional large rental properties as necessary.


About the Author:

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