Over 40 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a large holiday party in Saline. The surge of new cases seen within the past week are among people ages 15-25 who attended a house party June 2-3, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department.
These cases come after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down indoor services at bars after many cases were linked to bars, including over 100 cases at Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing. Concerns are also being raised about students coming back to campus and going out to bars and parties in light of the situation in Saline.
Jimena Loveluck, Washtenaw County Health Department health officer, noted in the press release this party is an example of how one large gathering can escalate the number of cases of young people with COVID-19.
“This is a very clear example of how quickly this virus spreads and how many people can be impacted in a very short amount of time,” Loveluck said. “We cannot hope to accomplish our goal of containing COVID-19 and preventing additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths without full community support and cooperation.”
Loveluck also said people of all ages need to be cautious of the virus, even if they are asymptomatic.
“We need people of all ages, including young people, to take COVID-19 seriously and follow public health guidelines and instructions,” Loveluck said. “That means avoiding large gatherings without physical distancing or face coverings. It also means cooperating with the health department to complete case investigation and contact tracing.”
Susan Ringler Cerniglia, Washtenaw County Health Department communications and health promotion advisor, told The Daily people should still be cautious as the state starts opening up due to uncertainty about treating those with the virus.
“As we’re essentially reopening and people are starting to get together again, go back to regular in-person employment (and) socialize again, we’re really hoping to re-enforce that we still need to (social distance and wear masks),” Ringler Cerniglia said. “(The) key point is nothing has changed about the virus. We still know that it’s circulating, we don’t have a good treatment (and) we don’t have a vaccine. As we open up and forget about the social distancing and the face coverings and the precautions and go about our business, this is exactly what’s going to happen.”
Ringler Cerniglia also questioned the possibility of keeping in-person classes in the fall if situations like the party in Saline were to continue happening in the fall.
“With increased and socializing, without necessarily using face coverings, it raises a lot of concern,” Ringler Cerniglia said. “Unfortunately with the trend we are seeing right now, it raises a lot of concerns about whether it will be a good idea for universities or K-12 schools to have in-person classes but those are things we are really wrestling with right now and it’s a little premature to guess what will be happening right now in the fall.”
The Washtenaw County Health Department is currently investigating the situation with contact tracing, according to Ringler Cerniglia.
Brian D. Marl, mayor of the city of Saline, commented on the cases saying the community knows how to act responsibly and needs to work together to decrease community spread.
“None of us wants to be the reason someone in our community or county becomes seriously ill or dies,” Marl said. “We have the opportunity to work together and with our local health department to contain this as quickly as possible. We know what we need to do, and we can certainly do it.”
Summer Managing News Editor Jasmin Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org