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East Lansing bar linked to 22 positive cases of coronavirus

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

The Ingham County Health Department said Tuesday at least 22 people who visited an East Lansing bar have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Of the 22 positive cases, at least 14 who tested positive for coronavirus were at Harper's Restaurant and Brew Pub between June 12-20, the department said. The pub is near Michigan State University's campus. 

Harper's Restaurant and Brewpub in East Lansing.

Health officials advise anyone who was at the bar during those dates to get tested for the coronavirus, whether or not they have symptoms. 

"We need people to treat every person they encounter as a potential carrier," said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail in a news release. "I strongly urge everyone to take precautions so that we can keep infections down and keep businesses open."

All of the 14 infected are between the ages of 19 and 23, the health department said. About half of them have some connection to Michigan State and others have residences in other Michigan counties. 

"These positive cases underscore the importance of personal responsibility among our students, faculty and staff, and taking the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others from the unnecessary transmission of COVID-19," said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of our Spartan community impacted by this virus and we wish them a speedy recovery.

Harper's announced it was temporary closing Monday night, although the Ingham County Health Department said its inspectors found that the pub was following appropriate safety procedures. 

The bar, which opened at 50% capacity on June 8, said it was closing to start a program that will eliminate long wait lines outside and to replace and improve the air conditioning throughout the building. 

"We have experienced long lines on the public sidewalk in front of our building. We have attempted to instruct customers waiting in line to wear face coverings and practice social distancing through signage on the public sidewalk and with a banner on our railing," the restaurant said on Facebook.

"Our oversight of the line on our stairs has been successful, but trying to get customers to follow our recommendations on the public sidewalk has been challenging."

On June 9, one day after it's re-opening, a reporter for the State News tweeted videos and pictures of large crowds at East Lansing bars, including at Harper's. 

As of Tuesday, Ingham County has reported 827 positive cases of the coronavirus and 29 deaths. Twenty people were being monitored for the virus and are in quarantine. According to health officials, the uptick in cases reported on Monday was the largest increase since May 27. 

"It is on each of us to prevent a second wave. Be smart. Be safe," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a tweet about Harper's closing.