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Northwood University COVID-19 outbreak makes statewide list ahead of Auto Show opener

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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MIDLAND, Mich. (WJRT) -The needle, moving in the wrong direction at many of Michigan’s schools and universities.

That includes several across Mid-Michigan, which have seen an unwelcome uptick in new coronavirus cases over the last several weeks. One local outbreak grabbed the state’s attention this week.

“Our general stance is to try to approach the Auto Show with the same kind of information and procedures that we’re approaching our day to day school operations with,” Chip Reeves related.

Northwood’s upcoming student-run auto show remained top of mind for Vice-President Reeves Wednesday.

“The good news is the Auto Show itself is an outdoor event,” Reeves said. “We would be having a very different discussion if we were talking about an indoor event with a large scale of people.”

It was food for thought as the Midland business school found itself on top of the state’s list of new outbreaks over the more than two dozen cases it charted in recent days. The outlook, Reeves said, didn’t have him worried.

“Fortunately for the moment, things are trending in the right direction in terms of current active cases… the 37 is about a third less overall than where we stood this time last year,” he related.

Northwood currently doesn’t require masking and has thus far resisted enforcing a vaccine mandate. Relying instead, Reeves said, on the tried and true techniques developed in the thick of it last year. Still, more than 80-percent of staff had been fully vaccinated at the time of publication, according to University figures, in addition to nearly three in every five students.

“We’ve already had one clinic… actually… two,” Reeves explained Northwood’s efforts to drive an increase in vaccination rates, particularly among students. “There’s another one coming up on September 24. We’re trying to create access points for students who choose to be vaccinated and staff as well.”

The Midland County Health Department told ABC12 on the phone Wednesday morning that the University maintained a close level of coordination with health officials. To some extent, the department said, the surge had been expected as thousands of students filtered back into classrooms.

“Things will evolve, I’m sure, in the weeks ahead,” Reeves predicted. “We’re still obviously very much in a pandemic situation and everyone needs to be vigilant. "

Students asked to quarantine are put up temporarily in the University’s hotel, according to Reeves, to create a minimal level of disruption.

The Northwood University International Auto Show runs October 1-2.

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