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Michigan college defies health warnings, holds in-person graduation

Parent: 'For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to come, it was well worth it.'
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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 18:00:13-04

HILLSDALE, Mich. -- A small conservative college in southern Michigan has defied warnings from state public health officials during the coronavirus pandemic by hosting an in-person graduation ceremony.

Hillsdale College held graduation Saturday evening, capping days of celebrations, according to The Detroit News.

“COVID obviously was a concern,” said David Betz, whose son, Christian, graduated. “For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to come, it was well worth it.”

The college of about 1,500 students had expected more than 2,000 people at the event, though school officials declined to discuss actual attendance numbers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had called the gathering illegal at a time when with public gatherings are capped at 100 people.

Health officials had said the event, drawing people to restaurants and hotels, put the HIllsdale city community of about 8,000 people at risk.

School officials said graduation is an important milestone and safety precautions were taken, including wearing masks. The liberal arts college has connections to top Republicans. Vice President Mike Pence gave 2018′s commencement address.

Michigan has reported more than 73,000 confirmed COVID-19 with more than 6,100 deaths.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.