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COVID-19 cases linked to CMU students up to 260

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The number of positive COVID-19 cases connected to Central Michigan University students' return to campus continues to go up — but the number of new cases each day is starting to come down.

On Friday, the Central Michigan District Health Department reported 260 cases, up 13 from a day earlier. The case count includes 245 confirmed and 15 probable cases. It includes current students, along with former students and residents living within and outside the community and who had an association with cases linked to the university.

A week ago, the case total was 134.

A message for students on the football scoreboard at Central Michigan University.

For nearly two weeks, the health department has been issuing daily reports about positive COVID-19 cases linked to CMU students' return to campus in mid-August. Officials have linked the outbreak to several students living together and to large gatherings.

Steve Hall, health officer with the Central Michigan District Health Department, said the bulk of the cases are students. He said a decline in the number of new cases is a positive sign, but officials are concerned that could change if students and others attend large gatherings between now and Labor Day.

"Everyone is a little worried about the holiday weekend," Hall said.

CMU has kept a daily dashboard, showing that not all the cases the health department has linked to the reopening of campus involve current students. Though 156 cases among current students have been identified since Aug. 17, when classes began, 32 are currently active — or, 0.21% of the 15,562 campus population.

CMU President Bob Davies and student body president Katie Prebelich issued a joint statement prior to the Labor Day weekend, thanking students for wearing masks, keeping socially distant and playing their part in keeping themselves and others safe. 

"Holidays are usually a time to gather with family and friends. However, throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen large gatherings — and even smaller gatherings held without safety precautions — lead to new surges in cases of COVID-19," they wrote. "In the last few months alone, celebrations for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekends were linked with spikes in new positive cases across the country.

"We’ve worked too hard to stop now. We have the power to slow the spread of this virus on CMU’s campus, in the Mount Pleasant community and among our family and friends."