University of Michigan students have been ordered to honor a two-week stay-in-place order issued by the Washtenaw County Health Department after 61% of the county's 600 “confirmed and probable” coronavirus cases since Oct. 12 have been linked to U-M students. Those in violation of the order could be hit with jail time and/or a $200 fine.
The order, which was oddly teased by the UM Public Affairs Twitter account while replying to a concerned student before it was formally issued, went into effect Tuesday afternoon and is set to expire at 7 a.m. on Nov. 3 — just in time for Election Day.
An order from the county public health department is imminent. @UMich has been working in close coordination with the county and will share details on additional steps we will take later today.— UM Public Affairs (@UMPublicAffairs) October 20, 2020
“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a press release. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”
The stay-in-place order is not the same as quarantine, although those who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and those who have tested positive are being asked to quarantine, leaving only for medical reasons, such as getting tested. They can also take advantage of the university's quarantine and isolation housing.
Students who are not showing symptoms are allowed to partake in essential activities, like work, grocery shopping, religious services, medical appointments, class/labs, exercise outdoors, and in-person voting — as long as they are consistently wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing. Football is also allowed to continue.
Under the order, undergraduate students must stay in their residence, the exceptions being class, dining services, or participating in “approved” work activities that are unable to be completed remotely. However, they are given the option to return to their permanent residences as long as they complete the college's procedures for leaving campus safely.
All students are to limit in-person gatherings to those in their households. While in common areas, students must wear masks and maintain six feet of space from others.
The sharp increase in cases in the last week (279 to 301) has resulted in 149 students in isolation, with another 168 in quarantine, The Detroit Free Press reports. On Saturday, those residents of U-M's Markley Hall were asked to not attend in-person classes and to practice 14-days of “enhanced” social distancing, as there are 92 cases tied to that dorm alone.
Health officials told Freep that though the consequences for violating the health order are hefty, they ensure that the “first steps will always include education and engagement rather than punishment.”
Students are encouraged to report violations of the order via the university's non-emergency hotline: 734-647-3000.
Updates on U-M's coronavirus cases, contact tracing, and testing efforts can be found on the university dashboard found at CampusBluePrint.umich.edu/dashboard.
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