ANN ARBOR, MI – The two-week emergency stay-in-place order for University of Michigan undergraduate students has been lifted by the Washtenaw County Health Department, which cited a decrease in university-associated cases.
The order will expire at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, as originally planned. County health department officials said the proportion of COVID-19 cases associated with UM has decreased, while the reduction in new, university-associated cases has allowed case investigators and contact tracers to catch up.
The order stated that students must remain in their current designated residence, except for things like going to in-person classes and labs, voting, getting food, seeing a doctor or working, with approval of the employer.
When the stay-in-place order was issued on Oct. 20, more than 60% of Washtenaw County cases were associated with UM students, and case investigators and contact tracers were unable to keep up, health officials said.
UM student cases now represent about 33% of countyCOVID-19 cases, health officials said, although local cases overall remain high and resources for investigating and tracing cases are still stretched.
Washtenaw County has reported more than 6,000 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, Nov 2. The weekly test positivity rate from MI Safe Start has increased to 3.8%.
Prompt case investigation and contact tracing decreases the spread of COVID-19 once positive cases are identified, health officials said, allowing them to keep up with the process and for recommended isolation or quarantine instructions to be effective.
Since most COVID-19 cases continue to be related to social gatherings and events without preventative measures, limiting social gatherings is critical to keeping new cases lower, health officials said.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of the university and its students on this order. We know this is incredibly difficult for all of us,” Jimena Loveluck, Washtenaw County health officer, said. “We’re thankful for this small bit of good news, but we all must continue to do everything we can to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on each of us and on our community.
“Recent weeks have left no doubt that the virus continues to circulate and have also confirmed that we can minimize its negative impacts by continuing to use face coverings and distance and cooperating fully with all public health guidance.”
Under existing state health orders, everyone must continue to separate themselves from others not already in their household by at least six feet and wear a face covering when out in public or in common areas. Limits on gatherings and at indoor facilities and other precautions are also still in place. A local order further limiting outdoor gatherings to 25 or fewer people in residential settings in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti remains in effect.
Violations of local or state orders are subject to the citations and penalties, ranging in fines of $500 to $1,000.
The health department is recommending limiting gatherings as much as possible during the upcoming holidays, noting that COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community and cases are increasing in non-campus areas.
Testing is recommended for anyone reporting to work in person, with known exposure, or with any mild or unusual symptoms.
Symptoms may take up to 14 days after exposure to appear, and individuals are considered contagious two days before symptoms appear. If you are exposed and asymptomatic, please wait seven to 10 days before testing. A negative test does not eliminate the need to quarantine for a full 14 days after exposure.
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