Eastern Michigan University reported its highest number of COVID-19 cases with 369 students and employees testing positive between Jan. 5 and Jan. 11 as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the country.
The EMU COVID-19 Dashboard reports 369 COVID-19 cases, and 57 employees, 120 on-campus students, and 192 off-campus students tested positive between Jan. 5 to Jan. 11. The total cases are the highest reported amount since EMU began its COVID-19 dashboard in August 2020. The previous highest number of reported cases was 82 on Feb. 2, 2021.
1,649 COVID-19 tests were administered by EMU during this time, generating 209 positive tests and making the campus testing positivity rate 12.67%.
Students living in campus housing are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. EMU student vaccination rates have not been reported by the university, but it is reported that 88% of employees are vaccinated, and unvaccinated staff will be expected to provide negative tests regularly.
“All my classes are online this semester, so it doesn’t really affect me, but I think it was a good choice,” EMU student Mackenzie Davilla said. “I’m probably 50/50 on the booster mandate. I have mine and think people should get them, but I know a lot of people are having issues with booster mandate deadlines when they can’t even get it yet because it hasn’t been six months since their last shot.”
In response to the increasing case numbers, EMU delayed in-person classes for the first two weeks of the winter semester. Other local universities took similar measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as students return to campus, including Michigan State University and University of Michigan mandating the booster vaccine.
“I think delaying classes is smart, especially with everyone moving back into the residence halls right after traveling visiting family,” EMU student Sydney Keenan said. "As for the booster mandate, I could go either way. I think getting the vaccine is very important, and everyone should do so if they can, but I can understand some people's hesitation to do so under the mandate from a large organization.”
Melissa Thrasher, director of Media Relations at EMU, said that the university is evaluating further actions to decrease the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
“The university continues to evaluate our operating policies in light of the increasing case count and guidance from public health agencies,” Thrasher said. “Changes to our current practices will be made as needed to ensure that we offer a safe campus environment. Housing residents are required to provide a negative test result prior to move-in. As the University continues to evaluate operating practices in light of the ongoing changes in the impact and spread of COVID-19, there may be additional requirements once residential students return to campus.”
The EMU Campus Testing Center provides on-campus COVID-19 testing free of charge to all Eastern students and employees.