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COVID outbreaks in Michigan schools rise 25 percent in a week

COVID-19 continues to spread through Michigan classrooms, with outbreaks in 84 Michigan school buildings in 31 counties as of Oct. 15.

According to a state report released Monday, there are now 435 cases among students and staff connected to K-12 school outbreaks, a 25 percent increase in one week. The number of schools with outbreaks rose from 68 to 84 in a week.

 

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The report is an undercount of the total coronavirus cases in schools. State health officials define an outbreak as two or more cases tied to a place and time; students and staff members who health officials determine contracted the virus outside of school or school activities – for example, from other family members – are not included. 

Most K-12 outbreaks involve fewer than 10 cases. Exceptions include 13 cases at the Newaygo High School in western Michigan, 17 at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, and 17 at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte.

The story was much the same in Michigan colleges, with 5,368 cases connected to outbreaks at 30 Michigan colleges and universities, an increase of 9 percent from the 4,921 cases tallied in the state report released Oct. 12.

The biggest college outbreaks: 1,622 at Michigan State University in East Lansing; 922 at Grand Valley State University in Allendale; 836 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and 738 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Young people tend not to suffer as serious of health consequences from contracting the virus, but they can spread it to more vulnerable family members once they return home from school. 

“Everyone is vulnerable to COVID-19, no matter what age they are,” Lynn Sutfin, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told Bridge Michigan. “Although we are not seeing high rates of hospitalizations and deaths among younger age groups, we know anyone can suffer severe health outcomes from COVID-19 including death, particularly if they have an underlying health condition. In addition, K-12 school and college-age students can easily bring the virus home to parents and grandparents and others who may be more severely impacted.

“We continue to urge all Michiganders to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including wearing masks, social distancing, washing their hands often and staying home if they are ill,” Sutfin said.

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