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Virus cases tied to MSU top 1,200, Ingham County health officials say

The Detroit News

The Ingham County Health Department reports the number of positive COVID-19 cases linked to Michigan State University has climbed above 1,200, while the school lists about half as many.

According to county website data listing new MSU-related cases by date of onset, there were 1,250 between Aug. 24 and Sept. 20. 

Signs call for face coverings on campus in East Lansing.

In that same time, the university's online dashboard showed some 499 known cases, and a total of 548 since July 27.

"We are aware of the discrepancy between the reporting numbers, and at the same time acknowledge that the county numbers are a more accurate portrayal of the full East Lansing community," Emily Guerrant, a spokeswoman for the university, said in a statement.

She added that the dashboard's known cases section "accounts for positive cases the university knows of due to on-campus testing and self-reporting of someone who may have been tested elsewhere but lets the university know they tested positive."

Guerrant said MSU is working with Ingham County to better represent their figures online, updated its tracker last week and plans more updates "as we determine how to present information in an accurate and timely manner."

The county's website shows the largest cluster of cases concentrated in the East Lansing zip code that covers the MSU campus. The total confirmed cases in Ingham County as of Tuesday was 3,230.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services listed the university as having an ongoing outbreak of about 533 cases through Sept. 14. 

Last week, county officials said they had identified 11 more large houses in East Lansing with known exposure to COVID-19 and were ordering its residents to quarantine.

Meanwhile, the school confirmed that out of 400 COVID-19 tests conducted Sept. 7-14 on student-athletes and staff members, 46 tested positive. That was the largest number of positive cases since testing began in mid-June.

Guerrant said the school-wide numbers this week "are slowing compared to the last few weeks. We believe the quarantine the county has in place right now for MSU students (which we support) has been helping to slow the spread, in addition to our collective efforts on mask wearing and physical distancing."