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Community updates: Friday, July 17

Gov. Whitmer clarifies Michigan face covering requirement; Kent County, United Way launch fund for local nonprofits providing COVID-related relief services; and Avenue for the Arts to host mobile art event in downtown Grand Rapids in October.
"No mask, no entry" sign at entrance of Downtown Market Grand Rapids.

"No mask, no entry" sign at entrance of Downtown Market Grand Rapids. /B. L. Townsend

Gov. Whitmer clarifies Michigan face covering requirement

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order Friday clarifying Michigan’s face covering requirement in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces, with more exceptions added.

Under the new order, businesses can’t assume its customers not wearing face coverings are medically unable to wear them. Businesses can, however, accept verbal confirmation from customers who say they can’t for medical reasons.

Michiganders and state visitors have been required since July 13 to wear face coverings in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces, or receive up to a $500 fine – in an effort to slow COVID-19’s spread. Those medically unable to tolerate face coverings have been exempted.

While police and other public safety officers have been required to wear face coverings, those officers whose work may be seriously interfered with by face covering use are now exempt under Whitmer’s Friday order. The other new exemption is residents voting at polling places.

“Wearing a mask is the right thing to do to protect our families, our businesses, and our economy,” said Whitmer. “If everyone in Michigan masks up, we can save thousands of lives and put ourselves in a better position to send our kids back to school in the fall. For the safety of our loved ones and our dedicated first responders on the front lines: mask up, Michigan.”

The other exemptions in Michigan’s face covering requirement are children ages 5 and under and those temporarily removing them for: eating or drinking, exercise, identification, necessary personal services, communicating with those with hearing impairments, religious services, or giving a speech for broadcast or an audience.

As of July 17, Michigan has 72,502 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,108 related deaths. Kent County now has 5,685 cases and 142 related deaths.

More details about Whitmer’s face covering requirement are available on the Executive Orders page on her official website.


Kent County, United Way launch fund for local nonprofits providing COVID-related relief services

Kent County and Heart of West Michigan United Way (HWMUW) are partnering to support local nonprofits providing certain relief services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Called the Kent County COVID-19 Grant Fund, the partners announced its launch on Monday, following the Kent County Board of Commissioners’ allocation last month of $9.5 million in federal CARES Act dollars to the fund.

“Grant requests ranging from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $150,000 are being solicited from nonprofits seeking funding for provision of COVID-related services,” the partners said in a statement. “Nonprofits can apply for amounts within this range deemed appropriate to CARES Act expenses.”

Applicants must be a local 501(c)(3), (c)(4), or (c)(6) nonprofit health and human service organization located within Kent County, continuing to serve individuals and communities within the county that have been directly affected by COVID-19.

Eligible expenditures include, but aren't limited to, the following COVID-related expenses:

  • Expenses for food security, food access, and/or food delivery
  • Expenses for personal basic needs such as personal hygiene products, diapers, etc.
  • Expenses to cover medical and/or employment transportation needs
  • Expenses for families in crisis including at-risk youth
  • Expenses for summer learning programs, tutoring, and after school educational programs for primary and secondary school-aged children/youth to address educational difficulties caused by the closure of school buildings in March 2020
  • Expenses for mental/behavioral health services
  • Expenses to cover physical health care access and services

More details about the COVID-19 Grant Fund, and a link to the application, are available on HWMUW’s website.


Avenue for the Arts to host mobile art event in downtown Grand Rapids in October

Avenue for the Arts, a local organization supporting Grand Rapids artists, will be hosting an outdoor mobile art event throughout downtown Grand Rapids in October, it announced Monday.

Called Rapid Art Movement (RAM), the event will constantly change locations over a three-hour period, from 4-7pm on October 10. Applications for participating are being accepted through August 30.

There will be no fixed locations, only a geographic zone of ever-shifting activity,” Avenue for the Arts shared in RAM’s online application. “In this way, it is an event built around surprising encounters that also encourages social distance. It is open to any visual and performing artist (actor, dancer, musician, drag queen, etc.) as long as their pieces are mobile.”

Avenue for the Arts emphasized the variety of ways movement can be utilized in the event, through examples of artworks being attached to a body, a sandwich board, a cart, a bicycle, a motor vehicle, or a u-Haul.

Artists may participate individually or in groups. Performances will change locations after each performance.

More details about the event are available in RAM’s application form. Information about Avenue for the Arts is available on its website.


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