Restrictions lifted for Grand Valley State University students after coronavirus cases decrease

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI — Restrictions on student gatherings at Grand Valley State University were lifted this week.

The two-week “Staying Safe” order implemented by the Ottawa County Department of Public Health ends at midnight Friday, Oct. 16, after new daily coronavirus cases decreased significantly since the first student restriction was put in place last month.

Even with the lifting of the restrictions, health officials are encouraging students and community members to “stay strong” in the fight against COVID-19, according to a press release from the health department.

“Epidemiological data monitored by public health officials and GVSU administrative leadership indicate a continual improvement to slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the GVSU community,” the release said. “The OCDPH is encouraging the GVSU and Ottawa County communities to stay strong and stay the course to further help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The restrictions limited the number of students allowed at gatherings, which included parties, group gatherings, study sessions or group walking. Prior to the two-week-long restrictions, GVSU students were under a stay-home order issued Sept. 16 in response to escalating coronavirus cases tied to the university.

Related: Grand Valley to pay students to take daily coronavirus health screening

Since the start of the stay-home order, the number of new positive cases have dropped significantly.

The university’s seven-day daily average is currently 4.9 new cases, compared to about 34 new cases per day on Sept. 16. GVSU saw its peak of 46 new cases per day on Sept. 6, according to university data.

The university went from accounting for 77% of all Ottawa County cases down to just 4% for the week ending Oct. 10, Ottawa County Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky said in the release.

“I want to further acknowledge and commend the GVSU leadership, faculty, staff and students for their commitment to public health and safety, not only for the benefit of the Grand Valley population but also for the greater community,” Stefanovsky said.

The health officer said the restrictions “were challenging for all involved” and commended the university community for helping to slow the spread.

“I now encourage a ‘Staying Strong’ approach to keeping our community safe from COVID‐19,” Stefanovsky said. “As cases continue to rise in the greater community, it is not time to relax any of the strong preventive approaches that have been put in place.”

Students should continue wearing face coverings, social distancing and washing their hands, she said.

There are currently 21 “active” cases – or cases reported in the last 10 days – in off-campus students in Ottawa County, according to the university’s data dashboard.

“I appreciate our solid partnership with the county health department and the drop in positive COVID-19 test results we’re seeing in the campus community,” said GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella. “I’m so proud of our community and want to thank everyone for taking this public health crisis seriously and following the guidelines.

“We know we must remain vigilant to do our best to keep the virus from spreading,” she