Harper's COVID-19 outbreak: What a state report shows about who got infected and when

Megan Banta
Lansing State Journal
Harper's Restaurant photographed on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in East Lansing.

EAST LANSING – Over the course of about a month, nearly 200 people from 18 counties tested positive for COVID-19 in connection with an outbreak at Harper's Brewpub.

The outbreak, which gained national media attention, infected 192 people, according to a state epidemiology report. 

Of those infected, 146 visited the bar while it was open between June 8 and June 20. Another 46 were infected after coming into contact with those people. 

Read the latest on the outbreak:Harper's owners defend safety of bar before liquor commission after COVID-19 outbreak

To date, no one has been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, though most of those infected have shown symptoms. 

Here's what else the state report, shared by Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail, reveals about the outbreak. 

Outbreak lasted about a month

According to the report, there was a little more than a month between the first person showing symptoms and the person with the last confirmed case either being referred to take a test or taking a test. 

People who were at the bar started showing symptoms as soon as June 13 — five days after the bar reopened — and as late as July 30. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period for COVID-19 is as long as two weeks, with a median time of four to five days from exposure to symptoms onset.

The onset of symptoms spiked on June 21.

This graph shows when people infected in the Harper's outbreak started showing symptoms.

The people they went on to infect started showing symptoms as early as June 18 and as late as July 5. 

People who were referred for a test without first showing symptoms got a doctor's order or simply took the test as early as June 15.

This graph shows when people infected in the Harper's outbreak were referred for a COVID-19 test.

Referrals spiked on June 25 and 26 after the increasing number of cases received widespread publicity. 

The final referral related to the outbreak was on July 15. 

Fatigue, headaches were most common symptoms

Though no one infected had symptoms serious enough to go to the hospital, the majority of those infected as part of the outbreak did get sick. 

About 73% of people who tested positive in relation to the outbreak reported symptoms. 

The most common symptoms were:

  • Fatigue — reported by 55.7% of people who had symptoms
  • Headaches — reported by 49.3% of people who had symptoms
  • Congestion — reported by 47.1% of people who had symptoms
  • Loss of taste or smell — reported by 41.4% of people who had symptoms
  • Cough — reported by 40.7% of people who had symptoms

There is overlap in symptoms, which is why the percentages when added are greater than 100%. 

No one showed evidence of pneumonia or reported acute respiratory distress, sepsis, organ failure, encephalitis or seizure. 

Mostly young, white adults

Most people who were infected as a result of the outbreak were young, white adults. 

The age of all those infected ranged from 3 to 79 years old, with 11 people age 50 or older testing positive through secondary contact with the virus. 

People who were infected at the bar were 18 to 28 years old. 

Nearly everyone infected was white — about 87% of all those who tested positive. 

Less than 10% combined were Black or Asian, and 3.6% identify themselves by more than one race or a race other than those listed in the report. 

No one identified as Native American, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. 

From 18 counties, none in Upper Peninsula

People from 18 counties were infected, including two counties in which residents were only infected secondarily. 

No one listed a county in the Upper Peninsula as their primary county of residence. 

There were no secondary cases in Berrien, Kalamazoo, Lapeer, Livingston, Manistee, Midland, Ottawa or St. Clair county residents

There were only secondary cases in Isabella and Sanilac county residents.

The report doesn't make it clear whether secondary cases happened after people traveled or whether those people were infected in Ingham County and simply list the other counties as their primary place of residence. 

There is no discussion of the outbreak — just statistics — in the report, which is dated July 24. 

Contact reporter Megan Banta at mbanta@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.