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Grand Valley State reports biggest COVID-19 school outbreak in the state

The state is reporting outbreaks at schools, colleges and universities in Michigan. Monday's data shows GVSU has the highest number of cases.

ALLENDALE, Mich. — Starting Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is publicly reporting outbreaks of COVID-19 at schools, college and universities. 

According to this data, most of the outbreaks are coming from higher education institutions with Grand Valley State University reporting the highest number of cases.

The Allendale-based university has been reporting the total number of active cases on its website. The school's dashboard shows there are 419 actives cases between staff, on-campus and off-campus students. The state's website lists 438. There is a positivity rate of about 3%. 

The second largest school-related outbreak is at Central Michigan University where there are 271 students who have tested positive. 

RELATED: Michigan to publicly post COVID-19 outbreaks at schools

Michigan State University, the largest college in the state, reports 203 cases. Ingham County ordered a two-week quarantine for 23 Greek houses and seven rental properties near the school that were exposed to COVID-19. The University of Michigan reports 77 active cases. 

An outbreak is defined as a two or more cases who may have shared exposure on the school's campus.

On Sept. 10, the GVSU Virus Action Team posted an update on the surge in cases since classes started on Aug. 31. 

"It has been reported that Grand Valley has the highest number of COVID cases among Michigan’s public universities. This is because we count the known condition of all our students, while many other colleges count only the students living on campus," said Greg Sanial, vice president for Finance and Administration and interim director of the Virus Action Team . "If we reported only our on-campus numbers, we would have one of the lowest numbers of reported cases."  

Student Leah Erben, a senior, says the school recently sent students an email explaining the cases as a result of more testing.

"I don't really know who the believe, honestly," said Erben. "It feels like the university is kind of desperately trying to convince us that we're okay."

Brian Hartl, an epidemiologist with the Kent County Health Department, says while there aren't any campuses the size of GVSU in Kent County, the 19 to 24 age group has still spiked in positive cases over the last few weeks.

"They like to hang out, they like to get together, they like to have some beverages that kind of limits their inhibitions," said Hartl. "Anytime you bring people close together, it heightens the risk for COVID transmission."

The Ottawa County Health Department said they are working with the leaders of GVSU to prepare more "community mitigation strategies" because of the outbreak in Allendale. They said more details will be released on Wednesday, Sept. 16. 

See the full school outbreak overview from the Michigan Department of Health here

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