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Community updates: Friday, April 2

West Michigan Vaccine Clinic exceeds 100,000 shots after expanding eligibility to ages 16 and older; The Rapid begins free vaccine clinic shuttle service; Grand Rapids Public Schools delays expansion of in-person learning days for K-8 students; and more.
Patients in line for vaccine shots at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic inside DeVos Place.

Patients in line for vaccine shots at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic inside DeVos Place. /Brett Townsend

West Michigan Vaccine Clinic exceeds 100,000 shots after expanding eligibility to ages 16 and older

The West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place has surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported on Thursday.

The milestone comes after eligibility at the clinic expanded to people ages 16 and over just two days earlier. Statewide eligibility for ages 16 and over does not happen until April 5.

Operated by the KCHD, Spectrum Health, and Mercy Health, the clinic enables large numbers of eligible people to be vaccinated in a central location in Grand Rapids' downtown. It will ultimately be able to provide 20,000 vaccinations per day when vaccine supplies become available.

Earlier in the week, the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic also reached its highest number of vaccinations in a day yet – something KCHD Director Dr. Adam London said is also a national milestone.

Just a few days ago that site hosted the single largest day vaccination event to date anywhere in the United States, with 12,534 people served,” London said in a Thursday video update, referring to Monday. In total, 22.6 percent of Kent County’s population – over 117,000 people – have been fully vaccinated.

Despite the growing number of area vaccinations, however, Kent County’s rates for new COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and related deaths have all increased over the last month.

The county’s rate of new cases has gone from around 75 new cases per day last month to 259 per day as of Thursday, according to the KCHD. Likewise, its test positivity rate has jumped from 6 percent to almost 12 percent during the same time, and its death rate from one every two days to two every day.

A simple majority [becoming vaccinated] is not enough,” said London. To achieve some level of community immunity, we want to see at least 70 percent of our population get vaccinated.”

“So I'm appealing to you – the approximate 25 percent of the population that's undecided – please, study what reputable organizations say about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and then please make a vaccination appointment,” he continued. “These vaccines are very safe and effective.”

As a sign of the efficacy of the vaccines, London said fully vaccinated people are not the among the severe cases in a rising number of area hospitalizations. Additionally, the only age group that hasn’t been impacted by the latest case wave has been the one that has received the most vaccine. Nearly 75 percent of people ages 65 and up have received vaccine, and are becoming a shrinking portion of the county’s caseload.

With the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic continuing to ramp up its daily number of vaccinations, operators are seeking more non-clinical volunteers in support. Volunteer roles include greeting clinic attendees, performing temperature checks, and more. Those interested may by begin the process by completing a survey through Kent County’s website.

A full list of West Michigan vaccination sites, along with registration information, is available at


The Rapid begins free vaccine clinic shuttle service

To help with the growing operations at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic, The Rapid has begun providing free shuttle service from remote parking lots to the site.

The free shuttle will be in service when the clinic is open for appointments, the transit service announced Thursday. Currently, its shuttle provides service to the Gerald R. Ford Museums north and south parking lots, with a drop-off and pick-up stop in front of DeVos Place on Monroe Ave. NW.

The museum’s lots are currently available as overflow for those with vaccine appointments. The Rapid shuttle will run to and from these lots every eight minutes during clinic’s times of operation.

“We are very excited to work with all the incredible partners that are making this effort possible,” The Rapid CEO Deb Prato said. “It is critical that the entire community works together on vaccination efforts, and we are committed to doing our part at The Rapid.”

More transportation options offered by The Rapid for appointments at the clinic will be announced in the coming weeks, according to the transit service.

Additional parking options for those with appointments at the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic include the Government Center Ramp across the street and downtown MOTU meters.


Grand Rapids Public Schools delays expansion of in-person learning days for K-8 students

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) has delayed the expansion of in-person learning days for its K-8th grade students by one week, it announced Wednesday. Now starting April 16, the move comes in response to advice from the Kent County Health Department, based on the county’s rise in new COVID-19 cases.

K-8th graders were previously expected, starting April 12, to attend in-person on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday, and Fridays, with Wednesdays still being 100 percent virtual. This now happens April 16, with students’ families also having the option for students to be placed in a 100 percent virtual option.

April 12 marks the return from spring break for GRPS students and staff. The one-week delay enables the school district an extra week of additional COVID-19 mitigation.

Additionally, the KCHD is recommending that all unvaccinated pre-K-12th graders and staff who travel out of state during spring break be tested before returning to school, or quarantine for one week before returning to school.

While we certainly understand how frustrating this news may be, since the beginning of this global pandemic, we have consistently followed the science, data, and guidance of our federal, state, and county health officials, and we are continuing to do so,” said GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby. “The health, safety, and wellbeing of our students, our families, and our staff are our top priority.”

Since Jan. 19, GRPS has split the week for students with half only in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the other on Thursdays and Fridays. Like K-8th graders, the district is looking to expand the number of in-person school days for other students in the future, such as those in preschool, Early Childhood Special Education, and grades 9-12.


Michigan income tax deadline extended to May 17

Like the Grand Rapids and federal income tax filing deadlines, Michigan’s has also been extended. The due date for filing Michigan income tax returns is now May 17.

Extension of the state’s filing deadline is the second year in a row the state has done so, in light of pandemic-related financial strains for Michiganders. Its original deadline this year was April 15.

Changing the state's filing and payment deadlines can help families figure out their next steps to get their finances in order,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Tuesday statement, also acknowledging the federal deadline change. “These extensions are necessary steps to ensure our residents have the flexibility to take care of themselves and focus on their physical and financial wellbeing.”

Grand Rapids’ deadline for city tax filing this year is June 1. The federal tax filing deadline, like the state's, is May 17.

Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file Michigan income taxes beyond the May 17 deadline can request an extension to Oct. 15.

Information about state tax e-filing is available at


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