Residents of UM dorm told not to attend in-person classes due to COVID-19

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan is requiring residents of Mary Markley Residence Hall to not attend in-person classes and observe enhanced social distancing practices for 14 days to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The university made the directive to residents over the weekend, and public health officials say they are grappling with what to do next as a result of the cluster of cases. Neither UM nor the health department released the number of COVID-19 cases as of Monday.

Mary Markley Residence Hall at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

"Because of increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the Mary Markley Residence Hall and the fact that a high proportion of residents have not participated in mandatory testing, the university is taking additional measures to protect all Markley residents and prevent the spread of COVID-19," says the UM update.

"All positive cases and close contacts have been moved or are in the process of being moved to isolation or quarantine housing."

Markley Hall is near Nichols  Arboretum and houses mostly first-year students.

Susan Ringler Cerniglia, public health information officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department, said the issues happening on UM's campus mirror trends across the state.

"We are certainly grappling with what else needs to happen to help curb that trend (at UM) because we are at the point now that it is becoming difficult to manage the influx of cases in terms of public health capacity and our ability to do effective contact tracing," said Ringler Cerniglia.

The health department, which works in tandem with UM, is having conversations about what is next if the actions taken by the university don't curb the spread of the virus, Ringler Cerniglia said.

She, along with UM, said that the growing number of cases can be traced to social gatherings, both inside buildings and outdoors.

UM's move comes as coronavirus cases in the state are on an upward trend.

On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,909 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths since its last report Saturday. That brings the state's total number of cases to 147,806 and the death toll to 7,031.

The university's COVID-19 dashboard shows there are 61 cumulative cases in Markley Hall since Aug. 21. However, the dashboard is only updated on Tuesdays and Fridays.