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The Eastern Echo Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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COVID-19 cases rise on campus as state officials suspend university operations 

Eastern Michigan University has been identified by the State of Michigan as the site of an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, Nov. 15, due to spiking cases in the state, with some restrictions aimed specifically at universities. 

In an email to students Sunday night, EMU President James Smith outlined how these new restrictions would affect university operations: 

  • All in-person instruction is suspended from Wednesday, Nov. 18, until Tuesday, Dec. 8, and all EMU classes will be conducted remotely during this time. 

  • All employees are required to work remotely beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

  • Thanksgiving break has been extended to include Monday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Nov. 24. This gives students a full week for Thanksgiving break. 

  • EMU housing will remain open as originally scheduled, and any students staying on campus over Thanksgiving break must sign up here 

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading around the country and in Michigan. In the past seven days Michigan alone has averaged over 6,600 cases per day. 

Increased infection in the state have been reflected on EMU’s campus as well. In the first two weeks of November, approximately 50 COVID-19 cases were reported among on-campus students. This five times higher compared than the approximately 10 cases two weeks prior. 

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The State of Michigan has listed EMU as the site of an ongoing outbreak since Nov. 2. EMU, University of Michigan, and a handful of K-12 schools in the county are currently considered to have ongoing outbreaks. 

Ten of the 108 beds reserved at EMU for quarantine or isolation are currently in use. 

Students can receive free COVID-19 testing on campus Monday, Nov. 16, through Wednesday, Nov. 18, by signing up here. There are a number of other free COVID-19 testing locations available in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, which can be found here

State officials released the MI COVID Alert app last week, which provides tools for anonymous contact tracing. The app will alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It also allows users to anonymously warn others of possible COVID-19 exposures. 

The app assigns each user a unique identifier and uses Bluetooth technology to exchange this code with other users with whom close contact is made. These codes are stored in a user’s app for 14 days, and no personally identifiable or location information is gathered or used by the app. 

Researchers at Oxford University found that utilizing a digital notification system for contract tracing, on top of existing contract tracing efforts can help reduce infections by 8% and deaths by 6% if just 15% of a population uses the system. 

More information and downloads for the MI COVID Alert app can be found here