Coronavirus Outbreak Linked To Michigan Bar

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A cluster of 85 new coronavirus cases have been linked back to Harper’s Restaurant and Brewpub in Michigan, the Ingham County Health Department said Saturday.

The Health Department said Wednesday on Twitter that the total number of cases linked back to Harper’s was 34, and said Friday that the number had risen to 76, CBS News reported. As of Saturday, a total of 85 cases have been connected to the bar. (RELATED: Gov. Whitmer: ‘I’m Never Going To Apologize’ For Shutting Down Michigan)

“Given the number of cases in this outbreak, we consider this a higher risk exposure than a typical visit to a restaurant or bar,” Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said in a statement Wednesday. 

“There are likely more people infected with COVID-19 not yet identified,” she added. “We need help from people who went to Harper’s during the exposure dates so that we can contain the outbreak. We need everyone exposed to stay home.”

The health department is asking anyone who visited the bar between June 12 and June 20 to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

None of the COVID-19 patients that have been connected back to Harper’s have been hospitalized, the Health Department said Friday in a Tweet.

After reopening June 8 at 50% capacity in accordance with Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, the bar experienced an “extraordinary exuberant response to our re-opening [that] has been beyond our expectations,” they said June 22 on Facebook

The number of people visiting the bar led to long lines on the sidewalk outside the building, Harper’s said, and it was “challenging” to get people to wear masks and practice social distancing on the sidewalk. 

“Because we have no authority to control lines on public property, we are left with the dilemma of staying open and letting this situation continue, or closing until we can devise a strategy that eliminates the lines altogether,” they said.

Harper’s will reportedly close temporarily to install an air purifying system and create a system to eliminate lines. 

Whitmer faced backlash for her strict coronavirus lockdown policies, which prevented people from visiting friends and family, shut down businesses and prohibited public or private gatherings. 

Whitmer called the protests a “political statement” and condemned them as risky for spreading coronavirus. 

Earlier this month, the governor led a Black Lives Matter protest in her state without practicing social distancing, although she was wearing a mask.

A spokesperson for Whitmer said that the protest, one of many that erupted nationwide following the death of George Floyd, did not violate the governor’s coronavirus restrictions because protesting is a First Amendment right.