A confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Vic Village-North student apartment building on Central Campus was announced by the leasing office in an email to residents Friday afternoon. It is the first case to be discovered at either student on-campus or off-campus housing at the University of Michigan, though it remains unclear if the individual is a student.
In the email, the leasing office reminded students of guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control on minimizing exposure and spread of the virus.
“Now that we have a confirmed case, the guidelines and recommendations from the CDC relating to the coronavirus are even more pertinent,” the email reads.
Earlier Friday afternoon, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel announced a University-affiliated individual had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the announcement, the individual is self-isolating in Ann Arbor. It is unclear whether that case is the same as the one confirmed in Vic Village.
In its email to residents, Vic Village said it has contracted a third-party cleaning service to perform a deep cleaning of the building on Friday night. The usual cleaning service will also enhance its “normal daily cleaning protocol.” The Vic Village leasing office did not reply to request for comment in time for publication.
On Friday morning, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency. There are currently 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan as of Friday night, including three in Washtenaw County.
In a video posted online Friday, Jimena Loveluck, health officer at the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, discussed the status of the outbreak.
“The first cases of COVID-19 in Washtenaw County have been confirmed,” Loveluck said. “These individuals remain isolated and have been working closely with the health department to identify close contacts and other lower-risk contacts so they can be notified, quarantined and alert to the possibility of symptoms.”
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure. The virus is thought to spread through the respiratory droplets of those infected, so maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals is recommended.
To prevent spreading the virus, the CDC recommends individuals wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their faces, advice that Loveluck reiterated. Those who are sick should stay home and wear a facemask. Unless caring for someone who is sick, CDC recommends against wearing a face mask if you are not sick.
On Tuesday night, Whitmer announced the first two confirmed cases in Michigan and declared a state of emergency. In response, the University canceled classes for two days on Wednesday afternoon and is moving to online classes starting Monday, March 16 until the end of the semester.
All spring and summer study abroad programs have been called off, and the University has begun recalling all students currently abroad. Spring Commencement was also canceled.
Both the University and state government have implemented rules to encourage social distancing. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order banning all events with more than 250 people in Michigan until April 5 on Friday morning. The University has banned all events with more than 100 people, though Schlissel emphasized in his email on Friday that all social gatherings in large groups should be avoided.
“We strongly encourage you to limit interactions in groups this weekend and in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day,” Schlissel wrote. “Reducing the density of people in physical spaces will help to prevent the spread of disease not just within our community but for society at large. Even in small groups, we strongly recommend practicing social distancing.”
Additionally, the city of Ann Arbor canceled all city-permitted events expecting 50 or more people on Thursday afternoon.
In his email Friday afternoon, Schlissel encouraged all students who are able to return home to do so. For students who stay on campus, University residence halls and dining halls will remain open.
Other institutions in the state, including Michigan State University, Washtenaw Community College, Central Michigan University and Wayne State University, have also transitioned to online-only classes.
Additionally, on Thursday afternoon, Whitmer ordered the closure of all Michigan K-12 schools until April 5.
To help those in need of aid during the rapidly-evolving coronavirus outbreak, a group of students and organizers have gathered resources of community-sourced options for housing, food, health care, transport, emotional support and more.
Local businesses have also moved to help people whose lives have been disrupted by the outbreak. Starting on Monday, TeaHaus will also be handing out free boxed lunches to school-aged children at their sister location on 211 E. Ann Street.
Daily News Editor Claire Hao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.