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U-Michigan students told to hunker down for two weeks

DETROIT (AP) — Students at the University of Michigan were ordered Tuesday to stay in place for two weeks after a surge of coronavirus cases driven by social gatherings on and off campus.

The surge is “overwhelming the ability” of local health officials to confront the pandemic, Washtenaw County health officer Jimena Loveluck said.

More than 1,000 students have been infected since the start of fall term, despite limits on gatherings and classes that are mostly held online. Cases related to U-M represent 61% of total county cases, compared to just 2% in August, Loveluck said.

Undergraduate students can attend in-person classes and also leave their residence for exercise, work, food, medical appointments, voting and religious services, she said.

The order lasts until 7 a.m. on Nov. 3, Election Day. A similar order was made in September at Grand Valley State University in Ottawa County.

The restrictions coincide with the delayed start of the Big Ten football season. Michigan plays Minnesota on Saturday and Michigan State on Oct. 31, although fans can’t attend home games.

In response to the order, university President Mark Schlissel said even more undergraduate classes will shift to remote instruction. Students who want to leave campus housing for the balance of the term could receive a refund or credit.

“Once a student returns home, for safety reasons they will need to remain home,” Schlissel said.

U-M has roughly 30,000 undergraduates.

At the state Capitol, House Republicans meanwhile announced a plan to give county health departments more power to craft a response to the coronavirus instead of relying solely on orders from the state health agency, especially if cases aren’t running high.

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