Sept. 8: Off-campus COVID-19 cases rising

Dear Spartan Community,

Each week, the Office of the University Physician works with local health departments, hospitals and government officials to track COVID-19 outbreaks related to Michigan State University. We also set up a tracking page on the Together We Will website, which is updated each Monday afternoon with information from the previous week.

Recently, with thousands of students returning to the greater East Lansing area, we saw our largest one-week jump in COVID-19 numbers. A total of 124 student and two employee cases were reported between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7.

These numbers represent symptomatic individuals who were either tested on campus or self-reported to the Office of the University Physician after having tested positive at an off-campus facility. Based on communications with the city of East Lansing and the Ingham County Health Department, we realize there are probably many more positive cases impacting our off-campus students.

Through contact tracing efforts, we also know that many of these cases were tied to off-campus social gatherings. There was not one large event, but rather, multiple smaller gatherings of people who were not wearing face coverings or practicing physical distancing. 

Our office, our health partners and MSU leadership continue to stress the importance of following guidelines that will prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Limit indoor gatherings to 10 individuals or fewer, wear face coverings, stay at least 6 feet away from others and monitor your daily health symptoms. It also is important to participate in contact tracing programs if you test positive for the virus. The ability to alert others who may have been exposed is a key part of testing and prevention efforts.

Further, one of the most effective ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is early detection. MSU’s COVID-19 Early Detection Program helps identify the possible presence of the virus in people who are asymptomatic. The university is encouraging all faculty, staff and students living in the East Lansing area to volunteer for the program.

All students must fill out the health screening form before coming to campus (students living on campus must fill it out daily as well). Additionally, we strongly recommending all students living off campus in the surrounding communities also complete the health screening form every day, even if they will not be on campus that day. Through these efforts, we can mitigate risk and help keep our community as safe as possible.


David Weismantel, M.D., M.S.
University Physician