Stay-in-place order issued for University of Michigan students as COVID cases spike

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(WWJ) The Washtenaw County Health Department has issued an Emergency Stay- in-Place order for undergraduate students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, in an effort to curb on-campus coronavirus outbreaks.

The order issued Tuesday is effectively immediately and runs through 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

The order says students must remain in their residences, unless attending class, accessing dining services, or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. The idea is to limit socializing among students and allow for effective case investigation and contact tracing. READ THE ORDER HERE.

UM students represent 61% of all county cases, and the number is growing, health officials said. On Monday, state health officials said U of M reported 836 confirmed cases of the virus, an increase of 200 from last week.

"The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” says Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”

This stay in place order is not the same as quarantine. During the stay in place order, official and essential activities are allowable when carried out using COVID-19 prevention measures including wearing face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand cleaning. While this order allows students to work and participate in official activities with preventive measures in place, it also limits the impact of exposures on local businesses, workers and community members, the health department said. QUESTIONS? READ FAQ ABOUT THE ORDER.

In support of the county order, the university also will take the additional steps out of "an abundance of caution" and to provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the fall semester.

“The university has been working closely with the Health Department all along in response to the pandemic and supports this decision to issue this stay at home order,” says Robert Ernst, executive director of U-M’s University Health Service and associate vice president for Student Life. “This action is intended to reduce the strain on our capacities for contact tracing and quarantine and isolation housing. Many individuals and off-campus residences are cooperating fully, and we hope this additional guidance on limiting social activities reverses the trend of increased cases related to social gatherings.”

This comes after over the weekend university officials told students who live in one particular dorm, Markley Hall, not to attend in-person classes. They were urged to quarantine for two weeks to avoid further spread of the virus.

At least so far, it does appear that Wolverines football game versus Minnesota would take place as planned this Saturday, regardless.

The order states: "Students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports may attend practices and competitions provided that athletic medical staff is present during the entire process, actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice, has the authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result, and testing is conducted per governing athletic organizations’ (i.e. Big10) policies."

However, the order does mean that students won't be permitted to gather to watch the Michigan-Michigan State game on Halloween.

U-M students are encouraged to seek COVID-19 testing at the on-campus University Health Service. Get information HERE.