Confirmed COVID-19 Cases: Management, Communication and Tracking

CMU is taking many steps to protect the health and safety of our campus, yet more employees and students will test positive for COVID-19 as they return to campus and our campus density increases. Below you'll find information on how positive cases are managed and communicated, as well as the weekly number of positive cases within our campus community.


Daily Reported Cases

Daily reporting began on August 31, 2020.


Last 14 Entries Cases 7 Day Moving Average
All Daily Entries Cases 7 Day Moving Average

Weekly Reported Cases

Weekly reporting began on June 15, 2020.


Week of: Confirmed New Cases

How CMU Defines Active and Inactive Cases

CMU reports COVID-19 cases as active or inactive. Active cases are those who tested positive, symptomatic and asymptomatic, and are 10 or fewer days post-onset or referral date. Inactive cases are defined as persons 11 days post-onset and who are asymptomatic.*

The State of Michigan classifies a recovered case as a person with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis who is alive 30 days post-onset (or referral date if onset is not available).

Fortunately, CMU has not had a COVID-19 fatality. Therefore, 100 percent of CMU’s COVID-19 positive cases 30 days post-onset to date have recovered.


*The likelihood of recovering replication-competent virus declines after onset of symptoms. For patients with mild to moderate covid-19, replication-competent virus has not been recovered after 10 days following symptom onset (CDC, unpublished data, 2020; Wölfel et al., 2020; Arons et al., 2020; Bullard et al., 2020; Lu et al., 2020; personal communication with young et al., 2020; Korea CDC, 2020).

**Total Campus Population counts CMU students, staff and faculty in Mount Pleasant.

Perceived Discrepancies in Active Case and Inactive Case Reporting

We often receive feedback suggesting that CMU’s Active case count should be higher based on the number of cases reported over the most recent 10-day isolation period. But what may seem like a discrepancy is due to a number of variables that impact Active and Inactive case counts.

  1. Multiple organizations and agencies perform testing. For example, three different organizations perform different tests on CMU’s campus, and members of our community also may choose off-campus testing. Providers use a variety of test types that take different amounts of time to process. Each also has its own procedure and timetable for compiling results, and timetables may vary by the number of tests a lab is processing. These organizations also may take between 24 and 72 hours — sometimes even longer — to report positive test data to the local health department and the state.
  2. Once these organizations send this data to the local health department and state, more time passes — often an additional 24-72 hours or more — before the health department and state report that data to CMU as a positive case.
  3. CMU community members also sometimes give the testing provider an address outside of Isabella County or the jurisdiction of the Central Michigan District Health Department. In these cases, positive test results go to the district health department of record for that address, and CMDHD won’t report that case to CMU immediately. This can cause a substantial delay in the number showing up in CMU’s official reporting.

What does this mean?

Put simply, this means CMU is regularly ahead of state reporting. Here’s why:

  • We are notified immediately when our on-campus testing partners identify a positive case. And we often begin our own internal contact tracing as soon as we learn of a positive case.
  • When we become aware that an individual is symptomatic, we isolate and quarantine even before a test is ordered.

If it takes up to 72 hours for a positive test result to be reported to the local health department and state, and then an additional 72 hours for the state to report that information back to CMU, the person who received the positive test already will have been in isolation for six days.

In situations where positive cases associated with CMU are initially reported to health districts outside Isabella County, it is not uncommon for CMU to receive official notice after the person has already completed the isolation or quarantine period.

Confirmed New Cases by Week and Day

Due to privacy laws, there is limited information we can provide in relation to positive cases of COVID-19, but CMU will provide daily/weekly updates of new COVID-19 cases within the campus community. The charts above track the daily/weekly number — and trend — in new positive cases within our faculty, staff and students.

  • We now show our total campus population and the total cases since June 15. We further identify the number of active and inactive cases. Inactive cases are defined as no longer infectious per CDC guidelines.
  • This is merely a snapshot of how many cases were reported for a given week or day. 
  • Weekly reporting began June 15. Daily reporting began August 31. We do not have daily data prior to this date.
  • Weekly numbers will be updated each Monday by 10:30 a.m. ET if school is in session.
  • Daily numbers will be updated by 10:30 a.m. ET each weekday if school is in session. Daily numbers run one day behind due to the lag in reporting time between CMU and the health department (E.G. Sept. 1 data is populated by 10:30 a.m. Sept. 2.).

How CMU Counts Its COVID-19 Cases

Central Michigan University's (CMU) count of COVID-19 cases include all positive cases of faculty, staff or students residing in Isabella County or enrolled in classes at the Mount Pleasant campus.

CMU’s case counts are different than those reported by the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD). The CMDHD reports cases to the state that include not only faculty, staff and students, but also former students and those living both inside and outside of the community who were identified as being associated with other cases related to return to school.

For example, if a friend (not associated with the university) of a CMU student came to visit said student, and that friend was infected because they were in close contact with the CMU student, the CMDHD would count that as a CMU case. This is the primary reason there is a discrepancy between the numbers CMU reports and the numbers the CMDHD reports.

Managing and Communicating About Positive Cases

When notified of an employee or student who has tested positive, CMU Health will work with the Central Michigan District Health Department to report the case, initiate contact tracing and connect with anyone they identify as a close contact.

For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Faculty, staff and students who test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms must isolate until:

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Symptoms have improved.

You will be contacted only if you are identified through contact tracing as having come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19. If you are not identified as a close contact by the local health department, you have no special precautions to take at this time and will not be contacted.

CMU will not send a university wide communication each time a positive case occurs. Positive cases will be tracked and updated weekly — see above for the latest number of confirmed cases in our campus community.

The local public health department may contact an employee's supervisor if further contact tracing of the COVID-19 positive individual is needed; however, the actual test result and all other protected health information will not be disclosed.

Individuals on campus who are not symptomatic but would like to be tested can find testing sites at the Michigan COVID-19 Test Finder. If you test positive for coronavirus, no matter where you are tested, you should immediately notify CMU Health by emailing covidtracking@cmich.edu

Returning to Campus After a Positive Diagnosis

Permission to return to campus will be given when these three conditions are met:

  • The individual remains fever-free without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours.
  • The individual shows improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
  • It has been at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared.

At the direction of their supervisor, employees may be required to provide documentation from their health care provider before returning to work.

Decision Points for Shifting to Remote Instruction

As we navigate the pandemic, every activity we undertake carries some risk of virus transmission. CMU will remain open for face-to-face instruction for as long as we are able to manage and mitigate the risks related to COVID-19. There is no set threshold or number of cases that would trigger a shift to remote instruction. Rather, the decision to shift will be based on a variety of factors, including guidance from our local health department, counsel from our CMU Health medical professionals, input from our local hospitals and health care providers, suggestions from our emergency management team and direction from state leaders.

If we reach a point in which it is no longer safe to offer in-person instruction, we have prepared for a variety of scenarios and possible futures, including a shift back to remote-only instruction. We will monitor our situation carefully and make adjustments and decisions appropriately as we move forward.