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"Staying in place" order lifted for GVSU-Allendale students

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio

The Ottawa County Health Department is lifting its 14-day "Staying in Place" order for Grand Valley State University students at the Allendale campus.

The order came after a large outbreak of COVID-19 cases among students shortly after they returned to school in September.

Greg Sanial is Vice President of Finance at GVSU. He's in charge of the University's COVID-19 response.

Sanial says students largely complied with the order, and new cases of COVID-19 have fallen dramatically.

"We're seeing much more of one here, one there, and it's very hard to discern a pattern," says Sanial. "Especially with our cases off campus, Initially, we were seeing very large clusters, and in some particular complexes, we're just not seeing that now."

The county has now issued what it calls a "Staying Safe" order for Allendale campus students. The order allows students to have up to four guests visiting their residence, but everyone must wear masks and stay physically distanced.

Health Department spokeswoman Kristina Wieghmink says contact tracing with students who have tested positive for COVID-19 has improved, but there's still a ways to go.

She says the number of close contacts being reported by students is an average of 2.9, while it's 4.9 for residents of the county.

"We have seen an improvement," says Wieghmink. "But we're hoping to be able to continue to work with students and make sure that they identify all those contacts so we can continue to isolate and quarantine to slow the spread."

Wieghmink says the county will keep very close track of COVID-19 cases among students, to try to avoid another large outbreak.

She also says the county is strongly urging students, and residents, to get a flu vaccine this year. That's to lower the risk of large numbers of flu and COVID-19 patients overwhelming hospital capacity.  

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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