Central Michigan University confirms 54 new COVID-19 cases since beginning of Fall semester


College students gather outside Aug. 15 to celebrate Welcome Weekend.

Central Michigan University announced Aug. 24 that confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 54 during the first week of Fall 2020 classes. 

In response to the announcement, President Bob Davies sent out an email to students and staff acknowledging the increase in reported cases. 

"Since our students began to arrive last week, CMU has seen a substantial increase in its COVID-19 positivity rate among students," Davies said in his email. "Particularly concerning are pockets of positive cases and symptomatic individuals living off-campus — two in Greek-affiliated houses and one in an additional large house north of campus."

Students who tested positive were identified and instructed to isolate or quarantine, Davies said. The university is now working closely with the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD) on contact tracing.

Executive Director of Communications for CMU Heather Smith confirmed that all 54 of these new cases are students.

In his email, Davies also said that CMU met with the city of Mount Pleasant, Isabella County, Union Township and the CMDHD this morning to discuss the university's approach to managing the safety of the surrounding area. 

Davies listed the steps being taken to prevent further spread, including:

· Partnering with a private company, Helix, to begin on-campus testing within the next week for anyone who has been identified as symptomatic or has had close contacts. Student-athletes will be tested as required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

· Directing Greek organizations to suspend all in-person activities.

· Working with landlords and apartment complex managers to enforce limits on gatherings.

· Fining, and even suspending, students who host or attend large gatherings through the Office of Student Conduct.

Davies ended his email by asking students to "do their part" and adhere to the university's health and safety guidelines.

"Remaining on campus this fall relies on every member of our community accepting the responsibility to protect ourselves and others," Davies said. "The activities we engage in — both on and off our campus — have repercussions for everyone who lives, learns and works at CMU and in our local community."

The new case count from Aug. 17-23 means there are 79 overall confirmed cases reported by CMU since June 15 when the university's campus reopened. According to a press release from the health department, there are 75 confirmed cases as of Aug. 24 that are related to CMU students returning to the Mount Pleasant area, with another seven that are probable starting on Aug. 16.

The State of Michigan reports 297 confirmed cases and nine COVID-19 in Isabella County as of Aug. 24, with the statewide count at 97,660 confirmed cases. Through July 31, Isabella County had 174 confirmed cases, which rose to 200 confirmed cases by Aug. 17, said the department’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Melissa DeRoche. She also said the number of recoveries in the county is at 151.

This increase in cases stems from college students returning to the Mount Pleasant area, according to the press release. Welcome Weekend was still active this year, with a party of about 50 people at Deerfield Village Apartments. This apartment complex was the site of an even larger gathering this past Thursday, gathering about 100 people together.