News Story

House subcommittee investigates COVID exodus policy held by U-M

University of Maryland gets congressional letter for its 5-day dorm exile, which University of Michigan follows

A U.S. House subcommittee is investigating a University of Maryland COVID-19 policy that the University of Michigan also follows. At both universities, COVID-positive students living on campus are required to leave for five days.

These students must leave campus at their own expense, potentially resulting in a costly hotel stay.

The University of Michigan has defended its policy in the past, with a spokeswoman telling CapCon that “isolation and quarantine are standard practices for preventing the transmission of many infectious diseases including COVID-19, measles, tuberculosis, and many others.”

Read it for yourself: The letter to University of Maryland regarding COVID quarantine and COVID aid

A portion of the subcommittee’s Oct. 13 letter to University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines reads:

According to public reports, Maryland is removing students who test positive for COVID-19 from their dorms without providing temporary housing accommodations and sending them to their “permanent” homes—likely with their older, more at-risk, parents. In other cases, students—as mandated by the Directive—are required to isolate at a nearby hotel. Presumably, it’s the students’ parents—not your university—that are footing the bill, which begs the question of how Maryland spent the federal Coronavirus dollars it received.

“Throughout the pandemic, it became increasingly clear that the nature of the threat had changed,” the letter continues. “Unlike older populations and those medically compromised, children and young adults were less likely to suffer severe illness as a result of COVID-19.”

The letter notes that the University of Maryland received $115 million in COVID stimulus funds, and it asks how the university spent the money and whether it picks up the hotel tab for students who must leave.

“This likely counterproductive directive will clearly burden and harm students’ education and mental health,” the letter reads. “This is highly concerning and requires further investigation.” The letter ends by noting the subcommittee’s mandate.

“The Select Subcommittee is authorized to investigate ‘the efficacy, effectiveness, and transparency of the use of taxpayer funds and relief programs to address the coronavirus pandemic, including reports of waste, fraud, or abuse’ under H. Res. 5,” the letter reads.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, chair of the subcommittee, sent the letter, along with eight colleagues. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, sits on the subcommittee but did not sign the letter.

The subcommittee has requested a staff-level briefing as the investigation begins.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.