Sept. 12: Urgent quarantine recommendations

Dear Spartan Community,

New quarantine recommendations have been issued by the Ingham County Health Department for all local Michigan State University students due to an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

The health department strongly recommends all local MSU students immediately self-quarantine in their campus-area home or residence hall for two weeks. There are exceptions for attending in-person instruction, labs and intercollegiate athletic training; for work; or to obtain food, medicine, medical care or supplies to sustain or protect life that are unable to be delivered. These recommendations could become part of a mandatory emergency order, should the spread of the coronavirus continue at its current rate.

This is a serious development, and MSU is committed to doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the health department, positive test cases linked to MSU now total at least 342 since Aug. 24, when students began returning to the community in greater numbers. That compares to 23 positive cases related to MSU in the three weeks before that.

At least a third of the new cases are associated with parties and social gatherings off campus, and some of those have been linked to fraternities and sororities. The health department plans to evaluate houses licensed for more than 10 unrelated people to determine if additional measures are warranted.

Student self-quarantine should last for 14 days, continuing until 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Remember, any member of our community exhibiting signs of COVID-19 must seek immediate medical attention. If you are feeling ill or have tested positive for COVID-19 and have questions, contact MSU's COVID-19 Triage Hotline at 855-958-2678 or your primary health care provider.

The necessity of thoroughly observing safety precautions, including limiting gatherings and other social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing hands, has been emphasized many times in communications from the university and our local partners. Even with severely limited in-person teaching and learning on campus this fall, the MSU Community Compact remains in force, including its stipulations for behavior off campus and compliance with community health directives.

The compact includes consequences for violations, and the university is currently considering a number of interim suspensions from MSU for individuals who have repeatedly violated the community compact.

All of us are responsible not only for our own health but also for that of the community, especially its most vulnerable members. More than 6,500 Michigan residents have already died from COVID-19. Further, what happens right now will significantly influence decisions on how much of the spring semester will be conducted in person or remotely.

We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus. This recommendation from the health department is another tool to help us do that. Do your part: Wear face coverings, practice physical distancing and avoid gatherings. Together, we can halt this threat to the community’s safety.

Sincerely,

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