As if the first semester of Universities couldn’t get any worse for students in 2020, one of the largest public schools in the country announced this afternoon that they would be re-enforcing 2 week quarantine orders to try and reduce, or stifle, the spread of the coronavirus. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Washtenaw County, which includes Ann Arbor, Michigan, has announced new stay at home orders after a recent increase in COVID19 cases that have resulted in zero deaths in the past week and has a %positive testing rate under 2. This order specifically targets university students and on-campus cases.
You read that correct by the way, zero deaths related to the virus and to make matters even more ridiculous, only 1% of all cases have been hospitalized for the county as a whole. The numbers actually seem quite good, comparatively speaking. Again, zero deaths with 95% of the total deaths in the county being people over the age of 60. Yet, the local government has reinstated stay at home orders for the next two weeks. They claim if there continues to be a rise in cases, then they will extend the order further. The plan of rolling, targeted lockdowns for some states in the US has come into effect yet again in the great state of Michigan.
Now of the increase in about 600 cases in the past week, 61% have been linked to UM students. That would mean that an overwhelming majority of these kids will be either asymptomatic or recover in less than a weeks’ time. There is no real reason for worry and this step in by the county seems like an overreaction. The Freep report talks about how Michigan has only 52.8% of beds available but It’s extremely confusing as to what that means considering the hospitalization rate in the county is minuscule. From my best research I can best conclude that this is for “isolation” rooms on-campus. If that is correct, then the 32,000 person school as a whole has a total of about 600 quarantine “beds”.
That number seems kind of small, no? What kind of plans were put in place by the school if they can’t even support 3% of their undergrad population (~1000 beds). Or is there something else to it? I’m not too sure I started thinking of math and then counterarguments and then just got confused and annoyed.
Now, this stay at home order doesn’t entirely lock down the students to the same extent that we saw 7 months ago, but it does hinder many things that young, healthy people want to do.
The order outlines the “activities” that are allowed for the next 2 weeks if you do not have symptoms:
- To go to classes and instructional labs
- To go to off-site clinical rotations or for experiental learning assignments if they have approval from the dean and the organization/site of activity.
- To go to work if it cannot be done remotely with approval from the employer.
- To pick up food and return home to eat it
- To get medicine or go to medical appointments
- To attend religious services
- To vote
- To get tested for COVID-19
- To exercise/be physically active outside so long as it is in groups of no more than two people
- To participate in intercollegiate varsity sports.
Now of course that last one is the most eye opening and says everything we truly need to know. Michigan football of course is still kicking off this Saturday. If that doesn’t make clear the pseudoscience of these lockdowns and about this order then I’m not really sure what else does. Think about it. If there truly was an outbreak that warranted another lockdown, then wouldn’t sending these athletes to Minnesota for their game Saturday be breaking the order and putting these athletes subject to fines and/or 90 days in jail, per the lockdown order? Is it not asking to spread the virus across state lines?
Of course the football team, and other sports, should play. That’s not what I’m saying. It’s just absurd how this treatment gets such different responses when realistically everyone is in the same boat.
And what angers me the most about this beyond just the hypocrisy and overreaction, is how this is a direct shot at the small businesses in Ann Arbor and the county. These businesses who are obviously struggling with capacity restrictions and trying to make ends meet have only a few weeks left of outdoor seating before it gets too cold and they are basically stuck for the winter. With stimulus talks seemingly going in circles, putting more restrictions and hardships on these bars and restaurants cannot be helpful.
Winter is coming, and there is a chance it could be quite the long night. I hope for the best.
From speaking with contacts at the University of Michigan, it’s safe to say these students are confused and annoyed with the action. They understand the extent and dangers of the virus, but they also know that lockdown orders have proved largely ineffective and will probably just “kick the can down the road”. They can be open while being safe and taking all precautions. There’s no reason to shut down both campus and the city for what really could be the rest of the semester and create even more negative externalities that come with forced quarantines.
It’s scary and a potential look at how colleges around the country will treat this change in seasons. We need to stay calm and act based upon data using logic and reason. There is no reason to submit to a cause that we can defeat. It’s on us to understand this and be brave in acting upon it. Let’s act smart and reasoned. We can do this. Like with what happened in regards to college football, there’s no need to just throw in the towel.
Freedom will prevail, but it’s up to us to pave that path.