By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance
As of Tuesday, 628 pre-kindergarten-12 schools are reporting new or ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Michigan. Of those, 93 are new outbreaks reported Monday.
The state reports school- and sports-related COVID-19 outbreaks on a weekly basis, but was delayed this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Michigan is in the throes of a fourth surge of COVID. A total of 1,301,593 Michiganders have tested positive and 23,732 have died from the virus. The state reported on Monday there were an additional 25,329 cases and 137 deaths since Wednesday.
There are 243 pre-kindergarten-12 schools with outbreaks of 10 cases or more, including Western High School (88 cases), Bullock Creek High School (77 cases), Ovid Elsie High School (71 cases), Garber High School (69 cases), Handy Middle School (69 cases), St. Johns Middle School (67 cases), Pinconning High School (64 cases) and Lapeer High School (61 cases).
The state stopped reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in colleges and universities Tuesday.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesperson Lynn Sutfin said that this is to “streamline the local health department weekly outbreak reporting survey to focus on congregate settings where patients and staff might be more at risk for infection and/or experience severe outcomes from infection” during the current surge in cases.
“This was in an effort to prioritize limited local health department capacity to populations for which the biggest public health impact could be made,” Sutfin said.
Michigan’s two largest universities, University of Michigan and Michigan State University, are reporting significant outbreaks.
Michigan State University reported that as of Tuesday, it is aware of 1,013 cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff since the week of Aug. 2. University of Michigan reports that within the last 14 days, 236 staff and students have tested positive for COVID-19.
Wayne State University is closing some facilities and some classes are moving online due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases statewide. The university reports an outbreak of 34 cases as of Saturday.
There already were some holes in the state’s reporting of school-related outbreaks, as DHHS doesn’t track individual COVID-19 cases in schools and relies on local health departments to track and report.
To be considered an outbreak, the local health department must have found three or more COVID-19 cases that may have shared exposure on school grounds and are from different households. Previously, the state considered an outbreak to be two or more COVID-19 cases.
Case counts for school-related outbreaks include those associated with before and after school programs and cases originating from on-campus and off-campus student housing.
According to Sutfin, students or staff who were exposed to COVID-19 outside of school grounds and are not thought to have spread the disease on the school grounds are not included in the report.
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