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COVID outbreaks slowing at Michigan K-12 schools, dropping at colleges

Coronavirus outbreaks in Michigan K-12 schools continue to rise, but at a slower rate, according to a state report released Monday.


On college campuses, active outbreaks dropped this week, with only the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor recording a significant rise in cases, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the weekly report, there were 482 COVID-19 cases linked to new or ongoing outbreaks in 99 K-12 school buildings in the week that ended Oct. 22. Those figures represent an 11 percent weekly increase in cases, compared to a 25 percent rise reported a week earlier.

Most school outbreaks involve six or fewer cases. Exceptions include several schools in the hard-hit western Upper Peninsula, where in Delta County, Kingsford High School and Bark River Harris Middle School both have 10 confirmed cases, and Escanaba Junior/Senior High School has 13 cases.

There are new or ongoing outbreaks at 25 colleges and universities in the state (down from 30 the previous week). Colleges across the state had a combined 4,409 cases linked to those outbreaks. That’s a drop from 5,368 cases the previous week. The main difference: Grand Valley State University in Allendale, which recorded 836 cases in the previous report, dropped off the list this week. Outbreaks are dropped if there are no new cases linked to those outbreaks in the past 28 days.

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There was only one new college outbreak reported: two cases at Finlandia University in Hancock, in the Upper Peninsula. A new outbreak is defined as an outbreak that hasn’t been reported in previous weeks.

Michigan State University continues to have the most cases linked to new or ongoing outbreaks, with 1,664, followed by the University of Michigan (1,092) and Western Michigan University (783).

Cases at the University of Michigan grew from 836 the previous week, a 30 percent spike in seven days. The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a stay-home order for U-M’s 31,000 undergrad students last week in an effort to tamp down a spike in infections in dorms and off-campus housing.

Among the combined 4,891 COVID-19 cases at K-12 schools and colleges, 109 involve staff members, with the rest being students. The report does not include a tally of hospitalizations or deaths linked to outbreaks at schools and colleges. 

State officials have said the report almost certainly is an undercount of total COVID cases in schools and colleges. It lists only cases tied to outbreaks, which are defined by state officials as two or more cases connected in place and time outside a household.

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