COVID-19 cases rise on campus, in Mount Pleasant

Central Michigan University's daily COVID-19 case entries for the last 14 days on April 8 from the Fired Up for Spring website.

Mount Pleasant finds itself among some of the most COVID-19 afflicted cities in the country after a recent spike in cases.

The April 7 chart of metro areas where new cases are rising fastest from the New York Times' "Upper Midwest Covid-19 Surge May Signal Problems Ahead for U.S."

Mount Pleasant ranked first among United States cities with the fastest-rising cases in metro areas on April 7, according to The New York Times' daily COVID-19 monitoring update. This came after ranking third on Monday and second on Tuesday. 

Today, Mount Pleasant has moved down on the list to ninth. Out of the 20 cities listed, 14 of them are in Michigan. 

CMU has already reported 49 new COVID-19 cases for this week, which includes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. CMU reported 80 cases the week of March 19 through April 4. Of reported cases, 69 remain active.

University Communications executive director Heather Smith said every new case within the community is concerning, yet the increase on campus is consistent with what is happening around the rest of the state.

"We continue to work closely with our health experts on contact tracing, which is critical for mitigating spread," Smith said. "(We) continue to strongly communicate to students, faculty and staff the need to protect themselves and others by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and embracing CDC best practices for health and safety."

Smith said CMU is focused on vaccinating as many people as possible. A large majority of faculty have received their first dose and all students are eligible to receive their vaccines.

Midland sophomore Aria Segura is at high risk for COVID-19 and awaiting their second dose of the vaccine. In the meantime, Segura said they remain a close follower of Center for Disease Control precautions.

"The rising number of COVID cases not only is a risk to me, it's a risk to our community, which has a high rate of poverty," Segura said.

Chicago sophomore Henry Key is concerned about the lack of clear COVID-19 restrictions when it comes to restaurants and stores. 

"I see a lot of people without masks on and it kind of concerns me," he said. "People aren't really taking it as seriously as they should be, especially considering the rise of cases throughout Mount Pleasant, and especially on our campus."

Bay City sophomore Lauren Hall's said she has noticed some students not taking precautions seriously since she has seen groups partying and others walking around without masks.

"That's a huge concern for me," Hall said. "I would say it does detract from my feeling of safety on campus."

One place on-campus Hall does not feel safe in is the cafeteria. She said the staff does their best to keep things socially distanced, however, there is still a lot of crowding.

 While Midland sophomore Katie Ellison loves the community at CMU, she feels as though people are not taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"What bothers me the most is the profound lack of empathy we're seeing ... with wearing masks and taking COVID-19 seriously," she said. “That's why we have so many cases."

When returning for the semester, Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Miranda Schomberg believes there should have been some shared governance in developing CMU's COVID-19 policies. She said the students should have had a voice.

"I wish that the students and the Student Government Association had been more involved in making decisions or at least contributing before a decision was made," Strachan said.

English language and literature faculty member Matthew Roberson said, as the semester comes to a close, his students are the biggest concern.

"I'm especially concerned that this rise in cases might coincide with the end of the semester when (students) are already exhausted and being challenged," he said.