The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a public health emergency stay-in-place order for University of Michigan students, effective immediately through Election Day.

The health department says the number of COVID-19 cases among students is increasing and represents over 60 percent of local cases. The order is intended to limit socializing among students, slow down new cases and allow for effective contact tracing.

Under the order, undergraduate students must remain in their residence, unless attending class, accessing dining services, or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they complete U-M’s procedures for leaving campus safely.

The health department says most infections are allegedly the result of social events and gatherings.

“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a press release. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”

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Under existing state orders, everyone must continue to separate themselves from others not already in their household by at least 6 feet and wear a face covering when out in public or in common areas.

A stay-in-place order is not the same as quarantine, the health department said.

In support of the county order, the university also will take the additional steps to provide choices for students and instructors, including moving more undergraduate courses to fully remote instruction for the remainder of the fall semester.

“The university has been working closely with the Health Department all along in response to the pandemic and supports this decision to issue this stay at home order,” says Robert Ernst, executive director of U-M’s University Health Service and associate vice president for Student Life, in a press release. “This action is intended to reduce the strain on our capacities for contact tracing and quarantine and isolation housing. Many individuals and off-campus residences are cooperating fully, and we hope this additional guidance on limiting social activities reverses the trend of increased cases related to social gatherings.”

Violations of the local order are subject to citations and penalties.

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