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63 new COVID-19 outbreaks reported at Michigan schools

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Michigan reported 63 new outbreaks of COVID-19 at the state's pre-K-12 schools and higher-education institutions Monday.

The highest number of cases reported at one school was nine involving students and staff at Johannesburg-Lewiston Elementary, east of Gaylord in northern lower Michigan.

Most of the outbreaks involved small numbers of cases, but the overall number is up from 50 from last week.

The data come from COVID-19 outbreaks reported by local health departments each week to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as of the previous Thursday. An outbreak is defined as two or more COVID-19 cases among people who are from different households but may have shared exposure.

The latest report comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered a three-week pause of in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, along with restrictions on high school athletics and indoor dine-in service at restaurants and other businesses. 

It also comes as Michigan shattered its weekly coronavirus case record last week with a total of 44,019 new cases reported, the fifth consecutive record week for confirmed infections.

"The situation has never been more dire," Whitmer said Sunday. "We are at the precipice, and we need to take some action."

Many in education stood behind the governor on Sunday.

“We want to do everything in our power to bring these numbers back down,” said Oakland University President Ora Pescovitz, who is also a physician. “We know it was very helpful last spring. These measures are necessary.”

But others were opposed to Whitmer's move.

"Yet again Governor Whitmer continues to show her contempt for the people’s elected representatives," Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox said. "Instead of working with our elected representatives at the state and local level, she is trying a one-size-fits-all approach that will only exacerbate the issues our state and its economy are facing." 

In addition to the new school outbreaks, there are more than 180 ongoing outbreaks, with the largest, 1,882 off campus at Michigan State University.

The largest ongoing K-12 outbreak is linked to Rockford High School and Freshman Center in Kent County, with 40 cases affecting students and staff.