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Community updates: Wednesday, July 1

Gov. Whitmer shuts down indoor bar service in Grand Rapids region, while allowing sale of cocktails-to-go, expanded outdoor seating; Kent District Library delays public reopening; mosquitos with West Nile Virus found in Kent County; and more.
Michigan bars and restaurants may now sell to-go cocktails, after Gov. Whitmer signed related bills on July 1.

Michigan bars and restaurants may now sell to-go cocktails, after Gov. Whitmer signed related bills on July 1. /Experience Grand Rapids

Gov. Whitmer shuts down indoor bar service in Grand Rapids region, while allowing sale of to-go cocktails, expanded outdoor seating

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Wednesday shutting down indoor service at bars for most of Michigan, including the Grand Rapids region.

The shutdown spans all of Michigan’s economic regions laid out in Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan, except the Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions.

Whitmer’s decision to once again close indoor bar service was based on a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases and growing number of outbreaks across the state, according to her office’s Wednesday statement. An example cited was a “super-spreader event” at a single East Lansing bar, which 138 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ingham County have now been traced to.

We owe it to our front line heroes who have sacrificed so much during this crisis to do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of a resurgence like we are seeing in other states,” said Whitmer. “Following recent outbreaks tied to bars, I am taking this action today to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.”

The governor’s order applies to establishments earning more than 70% of their gross receipts from alcohol sales. In light, most brewpubs, distilleries, and vineyards can continue indoor service. Most traditional bars and nightclubs, however, must end service indoors. Outdoor service at all such establishments may continue.

Also signed by Whitmer on Wednesday were Senate Bill 942 and House Bills 5781 and 5811, allowing bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go and expand social districts. Expanded social districts enable more outdoor seating and areas for residents to safely congregate while physical distancing.

I am hopeful providing options for cocktails-to-go and expanded social districts will ensure these businesses can remain open and Michiganders can safely and responsibly enjoy their summer outdoors,” the governor added.

Other pandemic responses Whitmer moved forward with this week were release of the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, a guide to help school districts navigate in-person learning this fall, and the signing of Senate Bills 876-878, which extend the expiration of diver’s licenses, sate ID cards, and vehicle registrations through September 30.


Kent District Library delays public reopening

The public reopening of Kent District Library (KDL) has been delayed, the KDL announced on Wednesday. It had planned to reopen July 6.

A new date for the reopening hasn’t been determined, but will depend on sustained improvement with the COVID-19 situation in Kent County. The KDL made the decision to keep the library closed due to increased risks around the virus in the area.

“Although Kent County is in a better situation than many other areas, we are committed to helping to create a sustained improvement,” said Lance Werner, KDL Executive Director. “Right now, the trend needs to be turned around.”

While the library will remain temporarily closed, select services it had already resumed will continue. Among the services are curbside pickup of library materials and drop-box returns. The library has also provided live-streamed programming and expanded digital resources throughout the pandemic.

Updates on the KDL’s reopening plans will continue being shared on its website.


Mosquitos with West Nile Virus found in Kent County

Three mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus have been discovered in Kent County, marking the county’s first known cases in 2020.

The find was announced by the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) on Tuesday, after its testing of mosquito remains trapped in the 49504 and 49525 ZIP Code areas. The cases were not related to humans.

West Nile Virus is spread primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes, with an ability to infect humans. The KCHD reports that only about 20% of infected humans will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains, and fatigue. Most infected people completely recover, but fatigue can last for weeks or even months. In rare cases infection can lead to death.

Discovering these cases in mosquitoes should serve as a reminder to everyone who lives in West Michigan that West Nile Virus season is upon us,” said KCHD’s Supervising Sanitarian, Brendan Earl. “It is important for people to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites as much as possible.”

As there’s currently no vaccine or cure for West Nile, the best treatment is prevention. The KCHD recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10-35% DEET, wearing light colored clothing, and staying indoors during dusk.

Residents can stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing or refreshing water in bird baths, children’s wading pools, and water bowls for pets, the department added. Other prevention methods include emptying other small containers that can collect water in yards and keeping lawns and shrubs trimmed.

More information about West Niles prevention is available on the Emerging Issues page on the KCHD’s website.


City of Grand Rapids offices closed on Friday, with splash pads still open

The City of Grand Rapids’ non-emergency offices and departments will be closed this Friday, July 3, in observation of the July 4 holiday weekend. Normal operations will resume Monday, July 6.

Exceptions to non-emergency services being closed Friday are the city’s splash pads, and the city’s yard waste drop-off site at 2001 Butterworth St. NW. Refuse, yard waste, and recycling collections will take place both Friday and Saturday with no delay in service, from 9am-6pm.

Additionally, the Grand Rapids Public Library’s curbside pickup service, GRPL To Go, will be closed on Saturday.

24-hour access to a variety of the city’s services provided 365 days a year is available on its website.


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