COVID triples in Michigan K-12 schools, rises 60% at colleges in a week

Coronavirus appears to be spreading in colleges and K-12 schools, according to a COVID outbreak report released Monday by the state. (Photo by 'Jcvertin' used under Creative Commons License)

Coronavirus outbreaks are spiking in Michigan schools and colleges, with a report released by the state Monday listing new or ongoing outbreaks in 28 K-12 schools and at 20 colleges and universities across the state.


The report, which tallies outbreaks as of Sept. 17, indicates there are now at least 2,220 COVID-19 infections linked to new or ongoing outbreaks at Michigan colleges and universities – up more than 60 percent from the 1,379 reported by the state in the week previous.

Among K-12 schools, there were 121 infections traced to new or ongoing school-related outbreaks, more than tripling the 33 reported last week.

“It’s concerning when we see more cases in schools,” said Bob Wheaton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “The increase in school outbreaks could be the result of a number of factors – including community spread, better reporting by schools and more testing. It’s difficult to pinpoint any one cause.”

The real numbers are probably higher. State officials acknowledged last week that the totals are likely an undercount because of reporting inconsistencies and lag times that can stretch as long as 10 days between outbreak identification and state disclosure.


A dozen of the 28 K-12 school outbreaks involve only two confirmed cases at the identified schools, the minimum required to be considered an outbreak. One school though, Luce Road Elementary in Alma, has 23 confirmed coronavirus cases among students and staff, according to the report. That school halted in-person instruction Sept. 8 after several cases were confirmed. 

There were eight cases at Novi High School in Oakland County and six cases at St. Martha’s Elementary in Okemos, in Ingham County.

Among colleges with the most infections, the report lists 694 cases at Grand Valley State University, 533 at Michigan State University, 288 at Central Michigan University, 245 at Adrian College and 151 at the University of Michigan.

You can see the state’s weekly school outbreak report here.

State health officials define a COVID-19 outbreak as two or more cases with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household (college residence halls, Greek houses and large shared apartments are not considered households). “New” outbreaks are those that have not been reported by the state in previous weeks; “ongoing” outbreaks are outbreaks that have been previously reported and had at least one new confirmed infection in the past 14 days.

While cases are increasing in school and college settings, hospitalizations among the state as a whole are not. Coronavirus hospitalizations are now near a low since April.

On average, young people tend to not suffer as serious of health consequences from COVID-19 as older people and those with underlying health conditions.

While schoolchildren and college students seldom become seriously ill, they can spread the potentially deadly virus to others who are more susceptible.

Monday’s release was the second week state health officials have identified schools with outbreaks following efforts by Bridge Michigan and other media outlets for public access to this information. Previously, the state released weekly reports on the number of outbreaks in schools, but did not identify the schools or the number of people infected. 

A coalition of more than 30 media and government transparency organizations wrote a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week urging more rapid disclosure of school outbreaks.

The group, calling itself the Michigan School-Related COVID Outbreak Transparency Coalition, wants Whitmer to require school districts to notify communities within 24 hours of an outbreak; increase the frequency of statewide reporting data and require universities and colleges to release more information.

As of Monday, Whitmer had not responded to the letter.

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Tue, 09/22/2020 - 4:09am

"It's ok, they're just kids, they don't get sick, die, or spread the virus. Now if we could just get another sycophant on the Supreme Court, we'll have our backs covered for the next 50 years."

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 10:45am

"While cases are increasing in school and college settings, hospitalizations among the state as a whole are not. Coronavirus hospitalizations are now near a low since April."

You have to wonder why hospitalizations are down even though infections are on the rise.

I'm guessing that those of us highly vulnerable to hospitalization have figured out how to avoid infection.

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 12:04am

Much of the rise in infections is among younger people who do not become so ill that hospitalization is necessary.

Tue, 09/22/2020 - 10:56am

Wear approved masks, social distance, wash you hands, get tested,,and most important,,,MOVE FORWARD WITH LIFE!

Jake K
Tue, 09/22/2020 - 11:46am

C’mon Ron...121 new cases in all of MI schools defines a “surge?” Then to characterize the new cases as “ongoing outbreaks?” It’s a virus which transmits. Our you going to report common influenza cases in the same fashion? Stop the madness. Please.

Read Again
Tue, 09/22/2020 - 11:30pm

Someone didn't really read this closely.
The article says, "Among K-12 schools, there were 121 infections traced to new or ongoing school-related outbreaks," which means 121 infections were related to K12 school outbreaks along with the 2,200+ college outbreaks along with the normal population (~500/day), so appropriately 3,000 people are reported sick because people are getting COVID and not reporting or getting tested in a day and you're thinking it's "madness" and like a "common influenza." Ha! Go get the vaccine. Oh, that's right. They're still developing and testing it. Go be a human guinne pig!

Carol Osborn
Tue, 09/22/2020 - 6:31pm

Just curious to know why you published a picture of Michigan Tech's campus when they were down to 10 new cases this week? Since the pandemic began, I've found your publication to be very accurate in what you publish. Hope this is a one time oops!

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 10:45am

Considering the picture's caption doesn't explicitly state what campus the picture was taken, they are just using it as a "stock photo" of a college campus. There's probably only a small percentage of Bridge readers who would be able to recognize where that picture was taken.

S miller
Wed, 09/23/2020 - 8:06am

Port Huron Northers HS closed last week for two weeks due to COVID19 - why isn’t it on the list?