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Two weeks into classes, Central Michigan University has 178 COVID-19 cases

This is likely not the beginning of the school year Central Michigan University President Robert Davies anticipated while playing cornhole at a student house party in mid-August, days before classes started.

After two weeks of classes, there are 178 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases linked to the return of students to the Mount Pleasant campus, many tied to off-campus parties that opening weekend.

The surge in cases linked by the Central Michigan District Health Department to the campus, at least 117 of whom are CMU students, has led to the declaration of a public health emergency in the mid-Michigan community, and was a major factor in Eastern Michigan University’s decision to move classes online.

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CMU classes began Monday, Aug. 17; by that Friday, there were 38 cases of the coronavirus confirmed by the health department. A week later, the number of confirmed cases had jumped to 126. By Monday, Aug. 31, the number was 163 confirmed, with another 15 probable cases.

In addition to current students, the CMU-connected cases include former students and other young people who attended off-campus parties the weekend before classes began, which the health department blamed for the outbreak.

Davies, the university president, has apologized for playing games on opening weekend outside of a house party, where he was captured on video.

While the vast majority of student cases are among off-campus students, eight students who live in residence halls tested positive for COVID-19 this week, according to CMU spokesperson John Veilleux.

A local public health emergency declaration last week limited the size of indoor gatherings to 25 people in Mount Pleasant. Steve Hall, health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department, told Bridge in an email Monday that police believed the emergency declaration helped tamp down the size of house parties this past weekend.

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