University of Michigan undergraduate students have been placed under an emergency stay-in-place order because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but athletic teams under the direction of a medical professional — such as the Wolverines football team — are exempt from the regulation.
That means Michigan, so far, is cleared to play in Saturday night’s football season opener against the Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Washtenaw County public health department issued the order, effective immediately until Nov. 3, because of concerns about the escalating spread of the coronavirus. In a news release, the department said the number of cases among Michigan students is increasing and represents more than 60% of local cases.
Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday said that his team doesn’t have any players unavailable because of COVID-19. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck wouldn’t say how many of his players will not be available to play Saturday because of COVID-19 or opting out of the season.
Under Big Ten COVID-19 testing protocols started Sept. 30, players, coaches, trainers and other individuals on the field for practices must undergo daily antigen testing. Players who test positive and have that test confirmed by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test would be sidelined for 21 days.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., county officials are trying to slow the spread of the virus.
“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a statement. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”
Under the stay-in-place order, undergraduate students must remain in their residence unless attending class, accessing dining services or carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely. Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they have completed the school’s procedures for leaving campus safely.
Existing state orders called for people to separate themselves from others not already in their household by at least 6 feet and wear a face covering when out in public or in common areas.
Washtenaw County has reported 4,229 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. More than 600 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in the county since Oct. 12, and 61% are connected to Michigan students living on or off campus.
The exemption for student-athletes read:
“Students who are associated with intercollegiate varsity sports may attend practices and competitions provided that athletic medical staff is present during the entire process, actively supervises the team’s COVID-19 mitigation activities during the practice, has the authority to suspend the practice if he or she believes COVID-19 mitigation practices require that result, and testing is conducted per governing athletic organizations’ [i.e. Big Ten] policies.”