Health department urges quarantine, struggles to trace potential exposures at unofficial Reese High School prom

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 11:01 PM EDT
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REESE, Mich. (WJRT) (4/29/2021)--Students who attended an unofficial prom for one Tuscola County high school may be eyeing a voluntary two week quarantine.

The county health department said it was grappling with a number of new infections Thursday, days after it reported students at Reese High School had attended prom. The event was held at the Grand in Bay City, was unofficial and held without the district’s knowledge.

An unknown number of those students have since positive. As Tuscola County health officials undertake the process of meticulously retracing their steps, they’ve had trouble finding everyone who may have been in the building.

“Contact tracing, in our mind, is just as important today as it was during the early days,” Brian Long explained. “We can potentially prevent the continuation or spread.”

The phenomenon dubbed COVID fatigue has increasingly taken hold after more than a year of precautions, with groups defiantly holding large events or going maskless, they often say, in an effort to reject government guidance, described in terms of fear tactics.

Potentially also at play, according to Long, the CEO of Owosso-based Memorial Healthcare, a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to the idea of herd immunity and just how protected an individual might be in any given situation.

“From an epidemiological or a population standpoint, a state vaccination percentage means a lot,” he said. “It means very little to a community that is at half that… the environment that I’m personally interacting with.”

Those state and national vaccination rates are the big picture numbers, but, as Long explained, a true understanding of an individual’s specific risk factors for contracting virtually anything entails keeping an eye on the ball locally.

“Almost out of the woods isn’t the same as to say, we’re out of the woods,” Long said.

Again, the event was unsanctioned and not coordinated by or with the help of Reese Public Schools. Students in attendance have been asked to voluntarily quarantine by the health department.

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