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Community updates: Thursday, Oct. 1

Kent County Health Department reports continued rise in county’s COVID-19 growth; City of Grand Rapids launches e-scooter sharing program; and Grand Rapids creatives hosting downtown Podcasts in the Park event on Saturday, exploring race in the city.
Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, after a Sept. 26 "Chalk It Up" event.

Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, after a Sept. 26 "Chalk It Up" event. /Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Kent County Health Department reports continued rise in county’s COVID-19 growth

Kent County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is continuing its fall season rise, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported on Wednesday.

In the KCHD’s weekly video update, KCHD Director Dr. Adam London said the county's now seeing about 72 new cases per day. The county’s growth has steadily climbed each week since mid-August, when the KCHD was reporting a daily average of 32 new cases.

“Our test positivity rate also continues to increase,” said London. “Over the last week, we saw positivity of 3.3 percent of all the tests that we did come back positive for COVID-19.”

Like the county’s case growth, its test positivity rate has steadily increased each week since mid-August, when it was at 1.7 percent.

“Another concerning sign,” London said of the rising rate. “Not unexpected with the weather changing and schools beginning, but something for us all to keep an eye on and to remember that this hasn't gone away. It's still out there. It's still being spread in our community.”

Most of Kent County’s new COVID-19 cases are reported by the KCHD as being residents between 19 and 24 years old – aligning with London’s claim of schools reopening being largely behind the county’s resurgence.

The KCHD offers free COVID-19 testing at various locations throughout Kent County, with information about registering for a test available on its website.


City of Grand Rapids launches e-scooter sharing program

The City of Grand Rapids launched an e-scooter sharing program on Wednesday, expanding mobility options for Grand Rapidians and city visitors.

In partnership with Ford-owned mobility company Spin, the pilot program deploys e-scooters across a 12 square-mile area covering downtown, neighborhoods, and business districts. Spin will deploy 300 scooters, with a scaling up planned of as many as 1,500 to match demand.

Using a Spin mobile app, riders can unlock the scooters, view a map to find nearby designated parking zones, and access information on how to ride them safely. Scooters are $1 to unlock, plus 15 cents per minute. Reduced rates for low-income residents and non-smartphone options are also available.

“As a solo open-air form of transportation, scooters can offer residents a lower-risk mobility option for short distance travel,” said Justin Kimura, Assistant Director of the city’s Mobile GR and Parking Services department. “We are proud to partner with Spin on this new and eco-friendly transportation option for our residents, commuters, and visitors.”

Spin’s scooters operate at a maximum 10 miles per hour and are geofenced via GPS technology to automatically slow or power scooters down when they cross into pedestrian-only zones, such as on college campuses.

To protect public health amid the pandemic, Spin will be disinfecting scooters every time they're collected and brought back to their warehouse for inspections and repairs. The company encourages riders to wear face coverings, use a disinfectant wipe on the handlebars, wash their hands before and after riding, or wear gloves as an extra precaution.

Basic safety guidelines for riding the scooters are available on the Safety page on Spin’s website.


Grand Rapids creatives hosting downtown Podcasts in the Park event on Saturday, exploring race in the city

A coalition of Grand Rapids creatives and community leaders are hosting a downtown, outdoor dialogue and entertainment event for residents on Saturday.

Happening at Rosa Parks Circle from 2-5:30pm, the free Podcasts in the Park event will explore the complexities of race, its opportunities, and its obstacles.

Among participants are Brian Kelly of the Full Exposure Podcast, who will be interviewing Mark Washington, the city’s first Black, and current, City Manager. Washington will discuss the role race plays in his life, management-led government, and leading during a pandemic.

Other participants include Mercedes Barragan, BL²END Advisory Council member, who will moderate a conversation between local Latina civic leaders, performance group The Diatribe, who will provide intermission entertainment, and more.

Podcasts in the Park is part of Grand Rapids' month-long The Bridge GR event, celebrating the city's art, culture, and community, and aiming to energize its economy amid pandemic-related tolls. The Bridge GR ends on Saturday.

Public health guidelines will be followed during Saturday’s event, such as six-feet distancing between attendees not of the same household, a limit of 100 attendees, and others.

Registration is encouraged, but not required, for the event – available through its Eventbrite page.


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