Harper’s COVID Cluster Rises to 85 People, None Hospitalized

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Alice Dreger for ELi

The scene outside Harper's on June 13, 2020.

Ingham County Health officials are urging anyone who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brew Pub from June 12 – June 20 to get tested and self-quarantine for 14 days.

The total number of COVID-19 cases tied back to people who were at Harper’s has now risen to 85. Two of the cases are “secondary” – meaning that two people caught it from someone who was at Harper’s.

According to Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail, none of the people in this cluster have been hospitalized.

The infected people from this cluster include a person who works in the East Lansing Fire Department.

A message from the City to employees Thursday morning confirmed that a Fire Department personnel member has tested positive. The message said that it is “highly unlikely that the exposure happened in the work place.”

The message to City employees specifically referred workers to the Ingham County Health Department press release about the Harper’s cluster.

ELi also has information indicating that the infected include a group that were together for a birthday party, and that that group included people who had come from out-of-town for the party.

The number of people who are being urged to self-quarantine would include hundreds if not over a thousand people based on ELi’s nightly observations of crowds at the bar during that period.

The crowd at Harper’s was not self-contained as people wandered in and out of the line outside, through nearby stores, and through the lines of picnic tables set up by the City in the roadway.

As ELi previously reported, the City Manager and Interim Police Chief were among those spotted nearby watching the nightly scene last week.

A City worker tells ELi that City officials are talking about closing down the picnic table area.

On Thursday, Ingham County Health Department said that all of the infected individuals in the cluster are aged 18 to 23. Not all live in Ingham County, according to the Health Department.

The health department said late Wednesday that none have been  hospitalized and most have mild symptoms. Four of those infected have no symptoms.

People self-quarantining should stay home away from others, including people who share their housing. Tests can come back false negative, so even those with negative tests should continue the self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Given the number of cases in this outbreak, we consider this a higher risk exposure than a typical visit to a restaurant or bar,” said Vail in a press release. “There are likely more people infected with COVID-19 not yet identified. We need help from people who went to Harper’s during the exposure dates so that we can contain the outbreak. We need everyone exposed to stay home.”

The news comes as MSU officials struggle with the question of how to reopen.

This week, on the dialogue forum Public Response, Mayor Ruth Beier said, “The mitigation strategies won’t work because they ignore the behavior of unsupervised young people…. I am not saying one way or the other if the U should open. I am just tired of hearing that it can open safely.”

This story was originally published on June 25, 2020, at 6 a.m. and has subsequently been updated with new figures.

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