BERRIEN SPRINGS — The Berrien County Health Department is monitoring developments in the wake of a recent Andrews University concert, after which the performing artist tested positive for COVID-19.
Sandi Patty, a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, performed a concert at Andrews University’s Howard Performing Arts Center on March 8 and hosted several individuals for a special “in-person experience” after the concert. On Tuesday, she announced over social media she has tested positive for coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the health department announced it is collaborating with Andrews University and Spectrum Health Lakeland to ensure that individuals who had close personal contact with Patty – and are also experiencing symptoms – are tested for COVID-19.
Test results were sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Laboratories and are now pending.
“There has been a delay in timely test results,” said Gillian Conrad, communications manager for the Berrien County Health Department. “Unfortunately, labs have been inundated with so many samples for testing over the last couple of weeks. It has been taking anywhere from two to three days.”
All concert attendees who had close personal contact with Patty at any time during her visit to Andrews’ campus are being asked to self-quarantine at home and monitor themselves for symptoms of coronavirus.
Symptoms for COVID-19 include a fever, cough and/or shortness of breath.
Conrad said those affected can stop self-quarantining themselves if they do not experience any symptoms of the coronavirus through March 22.
“That marks a 14-day period after that date of exposure,” she said.
Conrad said four people are being tested, who have experienced symptoms and had close contact with the musician on March 8. Conrad described the close contact as hugs, handshakes or sitting within a 6-foot proximity to her.
However, she did not know how many people attended the concert, let alone how many encountered the musician that day.
“Just because people were at the concert on March 8, does not mean they need to be tested,” Conrad said. “It does not mean they need to be practicing self-quarantine or monitoring. If people were just at the concert that day and never got close to Ms. Patty, they do not need to be worried about getting tested at this time.”
Andrews University on Wednesday alerted the public on Facebook that it had been contacted by several university colleagues and community members regarding Patty’s status.
“With this information, we are actively working with the appropriate Berrien County health officials to immediately understand and effectively respond to the implications of this report,” the Andrews’ Facebook post stated. “Further information will follow shortly on what you should do if you are concerned about close contact with Sandi during this event.”
Although Patty had retired from touring in 2017, she recently appeared in concert in Michigan and Arkansas.
Patty, originally from Oklahoma, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
The 63-year-old expressed relief in an Instagram post about not interacting with members of Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, where she serves as artist in residence.
“I am at home and Don and I are under quarantine for the next 14 days,” wrote Patty, in reference to her husband. “I’m so impressed with how our health department handled my case and grateful for their attentiveness. They are working so hard right now to keep us all safe.”
Those who are self-quarantining as a result of having close contact with Patty should contact the Berrien County Health Department hotline at 1-800-815-5485 if symptoms begin. The Health Department has further explanations of self-quarantine and self-monitoring on their website.