COVID-19 uptick halts students in 1 University of Michigan dorm from attending in-person classes

ANN ARBOR, MI -Students in the University of Michigan’s Mary Markley Hall won’t be attending in-person classes for two weeks due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the university has announced.

UM is requiring students living in the dorm to observe “enhanced social distancing practices” for the next 14 days due to the increase in cases, along with the fact that a high proportion of them have not participated in mandatory testing.

A pop-up testing event last week identified 17 additional positive COVID-19 cases on the third floor of the dorm, while several results are still pending. All positive cases and close contacts had been moved or were in the process of being moved to isolation or quarantine housing if recently identified, according to a letter from UM and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Individuals who have not been tested will receive additional communication about their failure to report to testing as required, the university said.

Overall, Mary Markley Hall has had 61 COVID-19 cases, slightly behind West Quad (63) and South Quad (73) for the most cases among UM residence halls.

UM’s Campus Health Response Committee monitors several metrics and considers mitigation measures that might require further response for reevaluating campus operations. The metrics focus on three areas — disease spread, public health capacity and health care capacity — and use specific information to prompt consideration of actions, the release states.

There are several situations that might change the university’s campus plans, including:

  • Five days of sustained test positivity over 20%
  • More than 70 new cases per million; sustained 10% positivity
  • Three consecutive days of more than 10% case increase
  • 80% projected capacity for isolation and quarantine housing within 14 days
  • One cluster with more than 100 contacts

UM has met the “more than 70 new cases per million” criteria since October. It also meets the metric of five days of sustained increases in student infections.”

Based on the test results UM received this weekend, there currently is not a cluster with more than 100 close contacts in Markley, UM Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

“As noted in the dashboard narrative, we have additional testing to do in that residence hall, so this could change as we move forward this week,” Fitzgerald said. “We are reaching out directly to students who did not respond to our call for testing to make sure all Markley residents are tested.”

The university currently has 148 students in isolation housing due to a positive COVID-19 test result, with another 162 in quarantine for exposure or awaiting test results. UM currently is at 51.7% occupancy for its quarantine and isolation housing – increasing from just 22.7% a week ago.

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