EAST LANSING, MI – Positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases traced to an East Lansing bar have climbed to 107 a week after health officials warned the public about possible exposure.
The outbreak has prompted the Ingham County Health Department to issue an emergency order to reduce restaurant capacity to 50% or no more than 75 people, whichever is fewer
Health officials first warned of the exposure site on Tuesday, June 23, when there were 14 known COVID-19 coronavirus cases associated with visits to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub between June 12-20. The following day, the case total jumped to 25. The day after that, 51 cases had been identified. As of Monday, June 29, there are 107 positive cases linked to the bar.
The county’s emergency order is on top of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that allowed restaurants and bars to open at 50% capacity but did not impose a limit on the number of patrons. The local order affects establishments with normal capacity of 150 or more.
Violating the order is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $200.
“Large crowds are difficult to control,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail. “By allowing no more than 75 people, restaurants and bars will be better able to enforce social distancing and the use of masks and face coverings. I strongly encourage all bars and restaurants to strictly enforce safety measures and to do all they can to help stop the spread of coronavirus in our community.”
Of the 107 people infected with the virus, 95 are primary cases, meaning they visited Harper’s during the exposure period, the health department said. The remaining 12 are secondary cases, which means they were in contact with someone who visited the bar during the exposure period.
Fifty-nine of the 95 primary cases are in Ingham County residents, the health department said. The others have residency in Clinton, Oakland, Wayne, St. Clair, Macomb, Eaton, Shiawassee, Livingston, Kalamazoo, Ottawa, Berrien and Calhoun counties.
All the people with cases linked to Harper’s are between 16 and 28 years old, the health department said. None of them have been hospitalized. Most have mild symptoms. Twenty-eight are asymptomatic, which means they don’t have symptoms but are contagious. At least 40 percent are Michigan State University (MSU) students or recent graduates.
People who visited Harper’s June 12-20 are considered exposed and have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days since their visit, the health department said. They should also seek coronavirus testing.
During the self-quarantine, people should stay home, monitor for symptoms and distance themselves from other members of the household.
Even Harper’s patrons who test negative for the virus should continue to self-quarantine because there is a possibility of false-negative results, the health department said.
Harper’s was following safety procedures related to employees, capacity and table spacing when inspected by the health department after cases were linked to it. The bar voluntarily closed to enhance safety, including modifications to its HVAC system.
A public testing event will be held June 30 from 12-4 p.m. on the MSU campus at 846 Service Road in East Lansing. There is no cost, and no appointment is necessary. In addition, anyone wishing to be tested can contact their primary care physician or visit a no-cost testing site.
On Monday, June 29, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 236 new cases and four new deaths associated with coronavirus, pushing state totals to 63,497 known cases of COVID-19 and 5,915 deaths.
Monday’s new cases were fewer than the seven-day moving average, which has climbed to 290 new cases per day. The four new deaths were less than the seven-day average of seven deaths per day, marking a continued downward trend.
CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION TIPS
In addition to washing hands regularly and not touching your face, officials recommend practicing social distancing, assuming anyone may be carrying the virus.
Health officials say you should be staying at least 6 feet away from others and working from home, if possible.
Use disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray cleaners on frequently-touched surfaces in your home (door handles, faucets, countertops) and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go into places like stores.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also issued an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose while inside enclosed, public spaces.