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

COVID outbreaks in Michigan schools continue to rise, but the increase slowed this week, according to a state report. (Shutterstock)

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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2nd Grade Teacher
Tue, 10/27/2020 - 10:30pm

This information is highly inaccurate. There are many more cases than be reported.

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 11:32pm

A positive test isn't a "case". At the beginning of this pandemic, a "case" was considered someone who tested positive, showed symptoms, and sought medical attention. Now a so called "case" can be a completely asymptomatic person who only got tested because their employer or school forced them to. You can't move the goalposts and change how you collect and report data in the middle of a viral outbreak.

The most important sentence in this entire article is near the end and reads as follows, "The report does not include a tally of hospitalizations or deaths linked to outbreaks at schools and colleges." The reason the report doesn't include this information is because it would completely dispel the fear porn the media and politicians have been pushing about schools being back open. This virus is not a danger to 99.99% of kids, and there isn't a lot of evidence in the data we have to suggest that kids give it to adults very often. Schools should open across the state if they aren't already, and they should remain open if they're already open. It's completely ludicrous to screw with our kids this much when theres virtually no risk to them and theres very little risk they will spread it to adults. Our kids have suffered enough.

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 1:48pm

Jay, you need to put down the kool-aid cup. 99.9% really? Where do you come up with that? No risk? Do you teach? Have you been in a classroom this year? Spoken to a teacher? What’s ludicrous is someone who regurgitates whatever statistics Fox News, or Scott Atlas spews out of their intellectual vacuum. No wants to screw with our children, but teachers are human beings too, and they deserve to feel safe at work, and not fear that they will take a deadly virus home to their families.

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 8:09am

You need to deeply reexamine the data you used to write this piece. "School related outbreaks" may well be receding, but that us largely related to how school related outbreaks are defined. Many, many districts are having daily covid cases, and exposures, but because those individuals (students and staff) are infected outside of school, schools do not have to report them as "school related." The fact that the logic here - that schools and their communities are unrelated entities - is laughable aside, the results are both misleading and potentially tragic. I work in a school district in which we have received notifications of individuals who have tested positive, and multiple exposures of staff and students, every day for the past week, but because the cases began in the community and then were brought into the school, the district does not have to, and has not, reported any of them to the state. You need to go beyond what the numbers say, what government health officials tell you, and do some real-life reporting.