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UM expands mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing to all students on campus

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — University of Michigan officials announced Monday that all students, including graduate and professional students, who live on campus or attend classes at there will be required to be tested weekly starting Feb. 16.

The expansion of weekly testing is necessary as case management and contact tracing efforts on campus have "Consistently demonstrated that social gatherings among graduate and undergraduate students alike continue to fuel the spread of COVID-19 within our community," officials said in a message to students.

As of Monday, 45 cases of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7. have been identified in 10 Michigan counties. 

Washtenaw County has 23 confirmed variant cases, Wayne County has eight cases and Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties each have four cases. Charlevoix, Eaton, Kent, Macomb, Sanilac and Van Buren counties each have one case.

There are 690 known cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in the U.S. in 33 states. Michigan has the fourth-most: Florida (201), California (150), New York (59), Michigan (45) and Colorado (33.)

University of Michigan officials announced Monday that all students, including graduate and professional students, who live on campus or attend classes there will be required to be tested weekly starting Feb. 16.

The initial case of the variant was recorded on Jan. 16 after a UM student returned from the United Kingdom and went shopping at Ann Arbor retail stores.

Not all of the county's cases are connected to the first case, but all remain associated with the university community, the Washtenaw County Health Department said.

"We are working to contain the known cluster of cases, and we ask everyone to step up their use of effective prevention strategies and seek testing if needed," Dr. Juan Luis Marquez, Washtenaw County Health Department medical director, said in a release. 

The weekly testing will be required for anyone living in UM housing, employees who are required to come to campus or anyone attending campus to use facilities or for dining.

The testing will be conducted through the UM Community Sampling and Tracking Program. Students can register online.

Those who have previously tested positive for the coronavirus are excluded from testing for 90 days.

While vaccine distribution is underway for some in the university community, the process to get everyone vaccinated is expected to take several months, the university said.

"Public health experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making decisions about when current recommendations can be changed," the school said in the message to students.

Michigan has recorded 569,417 cases of the coronavirus, resulting in 14,905 deaths as of Monday.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_