An outbreak of new COVID-19 cases connected with patrons at an East Lansing bar continued to balloon over the weekend. As of Saturday, June 27, the Ingham County Health Department has identified 85 positive COVID-19 cases linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, located near the Michigan State University Campus. By Monday, June 29 that number had grown to 107 positive cases and resulted in new Ingham County restrictions on restaurant capacity.
Health official have been advising people who visited the bar between Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 20, to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of their visit. Harper’s has been closed since Monday, June 22, in order to reevaluated its policies for enforcing social distancing and to install a new air-purifying HVAC system.
Of the 85 cases, the majority were identified in younger college-age people, some of whom transmitted the disease to different regions of the state where satellite outbreaks have been identified. On Saturday, the Detroit Free Press reported that a large portion of a rising number of cases in the Grosse Pointe area have been traced to one infected Harper’s patron. That individual later hosted a house party with several dozen people in Grosse Pointe Woods while symptomatic. After testing positive on Monday, June 22, they notified party goers on Tuesday.
At least one person who neither attended the house party nor visited Harper’s has also tested positive after seeing friends at a second bonfire party where people who visited the first Grosse Pointe Woods party were in attendance.
The Harper’s outbreak puts into clear focus the risks of dining out without a mask and without social distancing during the pandemic. People at the bar were observed lining up in crowds without leaving six feet of space between groups. Many people on the street were not wearing face masks, which are required by state executive order to enter any food and beverage establishment prior to being seated. Many restaurant owners and employees have spoken out about issues with enforcing mask rules, due to sometimes belligerent customers.
The city of Detroit put restaurants, bars, and nightclubs on notice on Thursday, June 25 that health officials would be out over the weekend to correct violations of the state’s executive order and improve safety enforcement. Mayor Mike Duggan warned owners that if they failed to comply after a warning, the city would be going to court on Monday to shut those businesses down.
Meanwhile, other states and counties across the country have been pausing or rolling back reopenings after a new rise in novel coronavirus cases. Florida, Texas, several counties in California, and Ada County in Idaho were among the areas to close down bars.
Update, June 29, 7:47 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that the case count associated with the Harper’s outbreak is 107 people.
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• How Coronavirus Spread From East Lansing Bar to the Grosse Pointes [Freep]
• Ingham County Health Department [Official]
• Kishi Chhabra [h/t]
• Coronavirus Cases Tied to Michigan Bar Are a Reminder of the Risks of Pandemic Dining [ED]