As of the latest update on Wednesday, 683 COVID-19 cases occurred on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus during the first week of school, according to the Campus Blueprint COVID-19 Dashboard. That’s nearly triple the number of cases on campus this time last year, with 182 positive cases reported during the first week in Fall 2021.
The positivity rate for COVID-19 cases during the first week of fall 2022 was 6.3%, an increase from the 0.8% campus positivity rate the first week of fall 2021. However, this semester’s positivity rate is consistent with the 6.1% rate during the first week of the winter 2022 semester. Overall, the current positive cases numbers are substantially lower than they were at the beginning of the winter 2022 semester when there were 1,918 positive cases reported in the first week.
As of Wednesday, U-M students were occupying 40.1% of the quarantine housing provided by the University.
Unlike the fall 2021 semester, this semester introduces a new COVID-19 policy that says masking is optional in almost all indoor spaces on campus. While students, faculty and staff were required to wear masks inside classrooms and recreational spaces last year, the majority of students are choosing to forgo facial coverings in fall 2022. Masks were also required during the entirety of the winter 2022 semester.
Since the semester began, students and faculty have expressed mixed feelings about the optional masking protocol, with some saying the freedom has boosted class culture while others say they still feel unsafe in large groups.
When asked for comment on future changes in masking policies and the current number of COVID-19 cases on campus, University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen pointed The Michigan Daily to the Sept. 2 message sent out by Robert Ernst, U-M chief health officer, on current quarantine housing and masking protocols. The message outlines the isolation procedure for on-campus students and makes suggestions for what off-campus students can do to protect themselves.
“As the fall semester gets underway, campus is buzzing with excitement and interactions through orientation activities and social gatherings,” Ernst wrote in the message. “Not surprisingly, with the repopulation of campus, we are seeing transmission of COVID-19 within our community.”
Washtenaw County’s community COVID-19 level currently stands at a “medium” level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends immunocompromised individuals or those who are at high risk for a severe disease wear a mask indoors, which is in line with the University of Michigan’s current masking policy.
For the fall semester, all U-M students, faculty and staff are required to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations in an effort to prevent severe cases of COVID-19, with a few medical and religious exceptions. Currently, 95% of students, 95% of faculty and 90% of staff are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Walgreens pop-up clinics are offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines to U-M students, faculty and staff at the following locations around the University’s campus throughout the month of September:
- Wednesday, Sept. 7 – Mosher Jordan (Upper Blue Market area)
- Thursday, Sept. 8 – Bursley Lounge
- Friday, Sept. 9 – Bursley Lounge
- Tuesday, Sept. 13 – South Quad Transformer Room (next to the dining hall)
- Thursday, Sept. 15 – South Quad Transformer Room (next to the dining hall)
- Monday, Sept. 19 – Mosher Jordan (Upper Blue Market area)
- Wednesday, Sept. 21 – Mosher Jordan (Upper Blue Market area)
Daily Staff Reporter Rachel Mintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.