Coronavirus surges among Michigan teens as school nears. Blame partying

Health officials blame the surge in infections of those 19 and younger on graduation parties and other gatherings that don’t adhere to social distancing. (Shutterstock image)

With school reopenings fast approaching, coronavirus infections among Michigan youths are rising faster than all other ages, prompting worry among parents, public health officials and school leaders.


Health officials blame the surge in infections of those 19 and younger on graduation parties and other gatherings that don’t adhere to social distancing. The uptick comes as a national study found nearly 100,000 children across the country became infected in the last two weeks of July.

“This young generation is not taking this as seriously as we would like,” said Dr. Russell Faust, medical director of the Oakland County health division, where graduation parties and other events have sparked outbreaks.

With school about to start, he said, “it could be a problem.”


  • In the last week, the number of infections among those 10 to 19 years old has grown 15 percent, by far the highest growth in the state, double and triple the growth seen among other, older age groups which had been harder hit earlier in the pandemic. The number of children under 10 who have been infected grew nearly 11 percent, the second-highest growth rate.
  • In Macomb County, the weekly rate of infections among 15- to 19- year-olds nearly tripled from late June to August (from 28 a week to 79 a week), said Scott Turske, a spokesperson for the county health department.
  • In Oakland County, 15- to 20-year-olds comprised 2.1 percent of all infections from April 1 to June 9. Since then, they make up 15.6 percent of infections, said county epidemiologist Kaleigh Blaney.
  • As of June 1, those under 20 years old comprised just 3 percent of the 57,400 statewide cases; since then they make up just over 16 percent of cases.

The surge among youths comes as new cases of the virus statewide have plateaued at roughly 700 per day. Overall, the virus killed more than 6,250 Michiganders and has infected nearly 90,000, including 6,800 who are under 20.

Make no mistake, all age groups are contracting the coronavirus, but infections among youths are growing at a faster rate because older residents are taking more precautions, experts said.

The state’s epidemiologists have noticed that cases among young people have risen, said Bob Wheaton, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Many other states are reporting similar situations. We want people to know that children and young adults are not immune to COVID-19,” Wheaton wrote in an email to Bridge. “So it’s important that they practice social distancing, wear masks and wash their hands – just as it’s important for other age groups.”

The swift increase in cases is crashing against the impending start of school and teachers and school staff in many parts of the state are worried, said David Crim, a spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association which represents teachers and staff at over 560 districts.

“The general attitude of teachers and support professionals is fear and anger,” Crim said.

With many parents still clamoring for in-person instruction, or at least the choice to have it as an option, school boards have had long, contentious meetings.

But many have already opted to start the school year online, citing health concerns and the cost of keeping students, teachers and staff safe.

Younger adults and children are less likely to suffer severe complications from the virus. But experts and others said they are able to spread it to more vulnerable populations, including the elderly.

Many parts of Michigan, however, have seen relatively few cases and even within Oakland County, home to more than 1.2 million people, there are pockets  with fewer cases. 

Blaney said her office is recommending local school officials make reopening decisions based on the number of cases in their communities and a district’s ability to safely hold classes.

“There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ [solution],” Faust said.

In Macomb County, Turske said the county health department is working with school districts on plans to open or offer remote learning. He said the county has also tried to tailor social media messages to urge young people to wear masks and practice social distancing.

And Blaney said she could envision a school being safe — if students and staff followed proper protocols. What she saw on social media from grad parties and the like was anything but — few masks, no distance.

Or, as Faust put it: “Kids out doing stupid things.”

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Tue, 08/11/2020 - 6:46pm

Students and legislators follow their peers, not their parents. So we need executive orders.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:17am

I don't know about you but I follow laws that come from legislation - I ignore executive orders no matter who they're from. Always have, always will.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:42pm

So to be true to your view, you don't recognize all Trump's executive orders? That's fine, otherwise you're a nasty hypocrite.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:39am

Relatively few people that are not following the common sense guidelines, these people not going to stay home either. Hence, we need a 'special force' to round up all of the violators (bad people) and lock them up! When the governor makes executive order and all of the common people are required to follow it.
Remember the reason for the shutdown, it was so the health care system wasn't overrun ... never happened. Who ordered covid patients to the nursing homes to endanger thousands or our elderly citizens (or underlying conditions)?

middle of the mit
Tue, 08/11/2020 - 9:03pm

The one size fits all approach or the......central planning thing......doesn't work for those that think they know better than everyone else.

That is why America is # #1 in cases, deaths and whatever comes next!

We don't need no experts!

We have conservatives!!

That means a patchwork of whatever conservative legislatures and the courts they have packed will allow. If you don't like the staggered approach or the quiltwork that conservatives have ended up giving us.........

Remember in November.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:55am

Remember it is all a Hoax Just ask all them soon to be dead republican bickers!!!!

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 9:51am

Actually, the USA is not #1 in cases, deaths, etc. Millions more than have been tested have had it...the death rate is actually much lower than reported...unless you count the deaths (under reported) of the nursing home people that only 5 democrat governors caused by putting covid people back into the nursing homes. Actually go to Michigan Vital statisics...the numbers there don't even match what the media keeps saying is happening.

I call BS
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:54pm

Sorry, you just can't handle the truth that Trump is and has been completely incompetent:

Here are the number of covid19 deaths by country as of this moment:

Country with the highest number of covid19 deaths in the world is USA: 168,390 deaths
Country with the next highest number, Brazil: 103,421 deaths

See for yourself:

You can also compare Michigan to other states by clicking on the link for the USA, if you want to know the truth. Whitmer is doing great, but things are sliding back because Republicans want to ruin our economy.

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 7:53am

So I'd suppose your getting info and such from the "cdc" and the "who"..... which have already been proven wrong, and all the info about masks...Democrats are wanting to ruin your economy just as well. Demoncrats have and are the reason we have crap all for anything... whom are those that are funding all this "BLM" agendas and constantly keeping people riled up by feeding them ill information and lies!!!!??? All of us need to wake up!!! And when you all are "researching" , it helps to look at all opinions and ALL INFO...not just the stuff that makes you feel better at night... I sincerely hope that for being so against TRUMP, you donate your stimulus check to your republican neighbor or family member....or food pantry etc.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 7:03am

Don't blame the teenagers. The media has been saying for months that youth are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and that opening schools can work.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:56pm

Exactly, and what about the GOP legislature in Michigan that says the same nonsense, but abruptly closes shop when only one Republican tests positive?

Lefka Simon
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 7:27am

The claim that partying is driving an increase in cases feels like an assertion rather than a fact. Testing is up; there are many asymptomatic cases. The more useful reporting should be on hospitalizations, recoveries and deaths. This is just another piece sensationalizing a never-ending narrative.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:59pm

Do your own research, but Trump's friend Modi in India is trying his hardest to make Trump look better. Unfortunately, we're still number 1 in deaths. I wish we could at least do better than a third world country, any country, but no.

Biden Harris 2020
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 7:35am

Lead by example!

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:17am

Fortunately these kids are at 0% risk from coronavirus. So this doesn't really matter and isn't really news. It's actually a good thing - They are building herd immunity like we should have been trying to do from the start - Look at Denmark. No masks. None of this nonsense. They're doing fine.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:36am

Just got a new t-shirt.

It says "Science Doesn't Care What You Believe"

I am done even pretending to be polite to those who are too stupid or selfish to take reasonable steps to preent the spread of this virus.

Good job!
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 2:05pm

Thank you! Can you add this to the shirts "Biden/Harris 2020"? I believe they will Make Science Great Again.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:57am

So what? Are they Sick? Are they Hospitalized?

The Hysteria /Fear has got to stop. Virus weakens as healthy people get infected.

From Feb 1 to Aug 5 only 29,000 People 64 years or younger have died in the US of Coronavirus, most with mid level Diabetes or Heart co-morbidities.

In Michigan, Average age of Death is near 80, Median Age of Death Mid 80s with co-morbidities.

Masks are Ineffective, Harmful and Never Intended for General Population Use. CDC never recommended one in its history until it became Politically Correct to do so.

The State Cannot "require" you to wear a Mask. That is why Masks are Not "required" for Voting in Polling Places. The State puts Pressure/Intimidation on Businesses to treat it like not wearing shoes or a shirt in an establishment under the Liability umbrella.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:30am

"In Michigan, Average age of Death is near 80, Median Age of Death Mid 80s with co-morbidities." Even if this was true (cite a scientific source for this data, please) it appears that you are implying that it does not matter that people that age are dying. Hmmm..ageism at its finest. And here I thought that "all" life was supposed to be sacred and precious. Silly me. Perhaps only unborn "life"is sacred and is worthy of protection in 2020. Thank you for teaching me something today. /s

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 4:14pm

All Michigan Data is available on the Michigan Website and SE Michigan County Websites.
Another tidbit you may find "not real"....Henry Ford Hospital (5 Hospitals) in the last two months have had only 17-47 Virus Patient on any given day, Total.
You can also follow along on twitter @fortgleason to get educated.

George Hagenauer
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:53am

Note Masks were required in many areas during the 1918 Flu epidemic- which caused the growth of anti-masking leagues and groups. A lot of it was related to people wanting to smoke in public -difficult to do with a mask on. A major concern right now with the virus is after effects including in younger populations. Hospitals in some areas are preparing for higher need for dialysis. We are still learning about the virus and its effects which will take months to sort out . Wearing the right mask like wearing a motorcycle helmet is an aggravation but not a major one given the overall threat. And given the variance in how data is collected (do you really think paupers living on the street in India or Latin America are tested for Covid19 so their deaths can be classified?) I don't pay a lot of attention to international comparatives though it is pretty obvious that some countries have contained the virus better than us or most of the world. We should be learning from them.

Jake K
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 9:43am

If so many of you are opposed to a vaccine, how are current and future viruses going to be effectively countered? It is not just going to go away because you will it so. Be realistic with your approach. What is so bad about a 4% infection rate? Are we to wear face masks year round...forevermore? If a person gets the sniffles or influenza will you go into quarantine...each and every event? Herd immunity is part of the answer, and a vaccine isn't an absolute necessity.
I'm certain that Faust and Crim want people in the workplace to provide them with groceries, auto fuel, hardware and other "essentials" of their everyday life. It's time for the MEA membership to step forward and provide the educational essentials to the students. People are exposed throughout the supply chain to ensure that we all receive our material objectives. Teachers should be treated no differently. I shouldn't be expected to work in a retail setting for your behalf and then have you claim special privilege because of self-defined vulnerability. You have at least some control over your student population. I have no such control over each and every one of you.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:52am

THIS: "It is not just going to go away because you will it so." And that is why the US is WORST in the world now. Everyone is pretending things are normal. THEY ARE NOT. Examples: 1. Look at the super-spreader motorcycle event in Sturgis. 2. Reported this a.m on WWJ, (link to article below) a woman who was very ill with all the COVID symptoms and whose husband had been diagnosed with it flew from Arizona to W. Va for a funeral and infected 40 members of her family, not to mention plan passengers and people at the airpot.

I have HAD it with people like this who are irresponsible and selfish. They are making it hard on everyone, including people who are doing everything they can to stay safe. As a compromised person, I am FURIOUS that I have to live my life in fear and in self-imposed lockdown because of the idiocy and selfishness of other people.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 2:09pm

I'm with you and if this is how things are now, wait until we are cooped up inside with the added burden of the seasonal flu. It's like the Republicans know Biden will win, so they are implementing a scorched earth policy in the US to help Putin.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 9:48am

So teen parties spread the virus but "protests" do not? Hmmmm.....

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 10:09am

C'mon Bridge. Surge? "To rise suddenly to an excessive or abnormal value."

Is this truly what we are experiencing? You're feeding the beast with such verbiage.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:02pm

But if your a protestor or anarchists you aren't required to social distance or wear a mask.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:40pm

It was completely ridiculous and irresponsible to put out messages about liberating Michigan, demanding schools open in-person, and encouraging opening everything so quickly. Now young people don't understand the dangers.

John S.
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 4:37pm

Trying to get youths to conscientiously wear masks and social distance is asking too much of human nature. A sizable percentage won't follow guidelines. Expect about as much success as trying to get a dozen cats to march in formation. In my community, if parents have tried at all, they have largely given up trying to get their children to wear masks outside or social distance. If my friends aren't doing it, I'm not doing it.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 8:37pm

Interesting choice of a photo. It appears to be college-age people sitting around drinking with wine bottles next to them. If this was the depiction you were looking for, it appears maybe alcohol is more of a danger. Is Shutterstock low on age-appropriate photos?