State reports 17 new COVID-19 school outbreaks

By: - February 28, 2022 5:00 pm

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Monday that a total of 2,056,751 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 31,817 have died from the virus — an additional 1,860 cases and 26 deaths since Friday.

The new numbers combine Saturday’s, Sunday’s and Monday’s recorded cases and deaths, with an average of 620 new confirmed cases per day. DHHS publishes COVID-19 data three times weekly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The DHHS also reported Monday that 1,155 people are hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. Of those individuals, 232 are in intensive care units and 126 are on ventilators. There are 33 children hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.

DHHS reported that an additional 303,648 Michiganders have been identified as “probable” cases for COVID-19, as well as 2,688 probable deaths. The department began tracking probable cases on April 5, 2020.

Combining the state’s confirmed positive cases with probable cases brings the total up to 2,360,399 statewide cases and 34,505 deaths.

The state is also reporting school- and sports-related COVID-19 outbreaks on a weekly basis. As of Monday, there are 320 new or ongoing COVID-19 clusters or outbreaks in pre-kindergarten-12 schools. 

Of those, 17 are new outbreaks reported Monday.

The DHHS had issued school guidance to strongly recommend a universal mask mandate in schools along with other CDC-developed prevention strategies, but the department dropped the masking recommendation in February as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decreased.

The state stopped reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in colleges and universities 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.

There are 179 pre-kindergarten-12 schools with outbreaks of 10 cases or more, including Lapeer High School (152 cases), Greenville High School (141 cases), Grayling High School (116 cases), Wern High School (103 cases) and Zemmer Middle School (95 cases).

There are 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 DHHS spokesperson Lynn 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.

Michigan’s two largest universities, University of Michigan and Michigan State University, are reporting significant outbreaks. 

Michigan State University reported that as of Feb. 14, it was aware of 3,991 cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff since the week of Aug. 2. University of Michigan reports that, during the seven-day period ending Feb. 19, 113 staff and students tested positive for COVID-19. 

The virus has been detected in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. The state’s COVID-19 fatality rate is currently at 1.5%.

The first two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the state on March 10, 2020. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency that day.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are about 436 million confirmed cases worldwide and 5.9 million deaths. The United States makes up a significant portion of those, as 79 million confirmed cases and 949,633 deaths have been recorded nationally.

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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a regular contributor to the Michigan Advance and a former reporting intern. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and is a graduate of Michigan State University.