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County health dept advises U of M students to stay in place in Ann Arbor due to new COVID outbreak

All University of Michigan students in the Ann Arbor area are being advised to stay in place as the Washtenaw County health department tries to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.

The outbreak involves a mutation of the COVID-19 virus which can spread more easily.

The Washtenaw County Health Department confirms 14 people affiliated with U of M, including students, have tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant.   

The stay-in-place recommendation is in place immediately through 11:59pm on February 7.

Students are being asked to remain at their campus-area addresses and to not gather with others outside of their household members. Students are permitted to leave their residence only to participate in limited activities, including in-person classes, work or research that cannot be completed remotely, obtaining food and medical care and other approved activities.

“We encourage all students to stay in place and only leave their residence for essential activities, including getting tested weekly for COVID-19,” says Dr. Rob Ernst, associate vice president for Student Life at U of M and executive director of the University Health Service.

Susan Ringler Cerniglia is a health department spokeswoman. She says the stay in place recommendation is voluntary, for now.  

“If we see continued non-compliance and...large spreading events, that’s going to change things,” says Cerniglia. “But first and foremost, what we’re concerned about is this variant and really taking proactive action to contain it.”

U of M officials are encouraging students to obtain tests through campus resources.

Concerns about the new COVID-19 variant comes as statewide coronavirus positive tests and deaths have been declining in recent weeks.

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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