75 positive COVID-19 cases linked to students returning to CMU, prompting restrictions on outdoor gatherings

54 current CMU students tested positive for virus
Posted at 4:28 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 20:16:59-04

MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (WXYZ) — As of Monday afternoon, there are 75 confirmed new COVID-19 cases linked to CMU students returning to campus. An additional seven probable cases are also being evaluated, bringing the total identified cases to 82.

According to the university, there are 54 new virus cases in current students.

RELATED: CMU threatens to fine, suspend students who participate in large parties

The recent cases prompted county health officials to implement tougher restrictions on outdoor gatherings, reducing the state mandated amount from 100 to no more than 25 people for events in Union Township and Mt. Pleasant. The emergency order goes into effect Monday at 8 p.m.

The week prior, the university had five confirmed cases in students.

The Central Michigan District Health Department says that the case count includes current and former students, as well as those living in the community who have been associated with other return-to-school cases. Whether a student self-quarantines on-campus after being diagnosed, or returns home to their permanent residence to self-quarantine, they are still counted in the current number of student cases.

"Our investigations have shown that many individuals that have tested positive live with several roommates or have attended large social gatherings," health officials said.

Health officials add that only students who tested positive while in Isabella County are counted in the total of 82 students. If a student tested positive while at their permanent resident, that case counts in their home county's total.

Many of the students who have tested positive live with multiple roommates, or have attended large social gatherings. And in response to recent large social gatherings on campus, the administration recently threatened to fine and suspend students who are caught at large parties.

In response to the recent uptick in positive student cases, the Central Michigan District Health Department issued Monday a public health emergency order restricting gathering in the city of Mt. Pleasant to no more than 25 people for outdoor events, which is a quarter of the state-mandated amount of no more than 100 people for outdoor gatherings.

"The local order enhances existing state orders and further restricts social gatherings in areas at increased risk for COVID-19 outbreaks since the student population returned to the local community," a release states.

The new order will remain in effect until further notice. The indoor gathering limits remains at 10 or fewer people within the city, which reflects the state order.

“We have seen a large increase in cases since students returned to the Mt. Pleasant area. Our investigations have shown that the majority of these cases had attended large social gatherings. Restrictions on the size of outdoor gatherings, along with other preventive measures will help us reduce the spread of this virus” said Steve Hall, R.S., M.S, health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the 75 confirmed cases were all current CMU students. Current students only account for 54 positive cases, the remaining cases include former students as well as those living in the community who have been associated with other return-to-school cases.

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