East Lansing Bar outbreak swells in 85 cases of COVID-19, spreads to Grosse Pointe area

An outbreak of new customer-related COVID-19 cases at an East Lansing bar continued to escalate over the weekend. As of Saturday, June 27, the Ingham County Health Department identified 85 positive cases of COVID-19 linked to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, located near the campus of Michigan State University.

A health official has been advising people who visited the bar between Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 20, to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their visit. Harper’s has been closed since Monday, June 22, in order to reevaluate its policies to enforce social distancing and install a new air purifying HVAC system.

There are some misleading news reports today. Only people who attended Harper’s from June 12 to 20 have been asked to quarantine for 14 days from their visit. Harper-linked cases currently number 85.

Posted by Ingham County Health Department on Saturday June 27, 2020

Of the 85 cases, most 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. Saturday Detroit Free Press reported that a large portion of an increasing number of cases in the Grosse Pointe area have been traced back to an infected Harper pattern. Later that person threw a party at home with several dozen people in symptomatic Grosse Pointe Woods. After testing positive on Monday, June 22, they notified partygoers on Tuesday.

At least one person who did not attend the house party or visit Harper’s also tested positive after seeing friends at a second campfire party attended by people who visited the first Grosse Pointe Woods party.

The Harper outbreak makes clear the risks of dining out without a mask and without social estrangement during the pandemic. People in the bar were observed lined up in crowds without leaving six feet of space between the groups. Many people on the street did not wear face masks, which are required by executive order of the state to enter any food and beverage establishment before sitting down. Many restaurant owners and employees have talked about problems with compliance with the mask rules, due to sometimes belligerent customers.

The city of Detroit notified restaurants, bars and nightclubs on Thursday, June 25, that health officials would be out for the weekend to correct violations of the state executive order and improve enforcement of security. Mayor Mike Duggan warned homeowners that if they failed to comply after a warning, the city would go to court on Monday to close those businesses.

Meanwhile, other states and counties across the country have been pausing or reversing reopens after a further surge in new coronavirus cases. Florida, Texas, several counties in California, and Ada County in Idaho were among the areas to close bars.

Eater is tracking the impact of the new coronavirus on the local food industry. Have a story to share? Reach [email protected].

• How the coronavirus spread from the East Lansing bar to the Grosse Pointes [Freep]• Ingham County Health Department [Official]• Kishi Chhabra [h/t]• Michigan Bar-linked coronavirus cases are a reminder of the risks of a pandemic dinner [ED]