The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Friday, March 20 updates

Mayor Bliss urges local residents to support one another through social distancing, The Rapid limits public access to Central Station, Meijer and SpartanNash stores adjust hours, and more statements from local organizations issued March 19-20, 2020.
Meijer announces adjusted store hours and services beginning Friday, March 20.

Meijer announces adjusted store hours and services beginning Friday, March 20. /Meijer

10 days into Michigan’s declared state of emergency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of statewide confirmed cases of those testing positive for the disease has risen to 549.

As the numbers continue to rise statewide, nationwide, and globally, Grand Rapids organizations are continuing to respond at the local level to the rapid-speed developments surrounding the pandemic. Shared in this Friday, March 20, 2020 update are statements from the City of Grand Rapids, the Kent County Health Department, The Rapid, Meijer, Family Fare and D&W Fresh Market owner SpartanNash, and the Amway River Bank Run.

City of Grand Rapids

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss released a letter last night, March 19, on The City of Grand Rapids’ Facebook page urging residents to “to support one another, to stay safe, and to save lives.”

“While I know it’s hard, it’s important that we follow recommendations on social distancing, staying home if possible (especially when we’re sick), avoiding social gatherings, and postponing nonessential travel and trips,” Bliss said. “These are difficult actions, but they’re necessary.”

The mayor went on to share that City staff are continuing to coordinate with county, state, and federal officials in their response and that they’re looking at City programs and initiatives to see how they might be used to help Grand Rapids residents, not just through the crisis, but afterwards.

“We want to maintain the economic momentum we’ve built over the last decade, and to keep people safe and stable in their homes and jobs,” Bliss added.

Kent County Health Department

Regarding COVID-19 testing in Kent County, the Kent County Health Department have announced that as of yesterday, March 19, there is a severe shortage of swabs used for COVID-19 testing both nationwide and in the county area.

“Starting immediately, testing will be limited to only the most vulnerable populations,” the department announced.

“We need to keep COVID-19 out of our doctor’s offices and hospitals and not bring in potential cases that could affect others — especially those who are most vulnerable.”

The Kent County Health Department urges those having trouble breathing or experiencing chest pains to seek medical attention immediately or call 9-1-1. More information is available on the department’s website.

The Rapid

Grand Rapids’ public transit system, The Rapid, have announced that effective today, March 20, the Rapid Central Station will have very limited public access and that the Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station will be closed to the public until further notice.

The changes come in response to The Rapid’s commitment to “helping the community contain the spread of COVID-19,” the organization said in a statement.

Rapid riders will still be able to purchase or reload Wave cards at Rapid Central Station, but must enter through the southeast entrance. Greyhound Bus customers needing to purchase tickets must wait at the southeast entrance to be escorted into the building by security or Greyhound personnel.

“If there is no one available to escort a customer inside the building, customers may purchase a ticket from the Greyhound coach operator,” The Rapid added. More information is available on their website.

Meijer and SpartanNash

Meijer and SpartanNash both are adjusting their grocery store hours in response to the growing pandemic. SpartanNash owns several grocery store chains, including Family Fare and D&W Fresh Market.

The changes include closing overnight for restocking and dedicated hours for senior citizens, customers with chronic health conditions, essential service workers, and employees.

“These are unprecedented times that require appropriate action to ensure we are supporting the communities where our customers and team members work and live,” said Rick Keyes, Meijer President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our adjusted store hours will ensure all of our customers have access to the products they need in the cleanest shopping environment possible.”

For Meijer, stores will close over night at 10 p.m. local time, beginning tonight, March 20, and will open each morning at 8 a.m. local time. Dedicated shopping hours for senior citizens and customers with chronic health conditions will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-8 a.m. local time. Dedicated shopping hours for essential service workers and Meijer employees will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-8 a.m. local time.

More information about Meijer’s adjusted hours is available on their website.

Most of SpartanNash’s stores, including Family Fare and D&W Fresh Market, will now be closed between midnight and 6 a.m. Senior citizens and customers with chronic health conditions will have dedicated shopping hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 a.m. local time. Dedicated shopping hours for essential service workers and SpartanNash employees will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7-8 a.m. local time.

More information about SpartanNash’s adjusted hours is available on their website.

Amway River Bank Run

Rounding out today’s major local developments, the Amway River Bank Run have announced the rescheduling of their annual event to Saturday, October 24 in response to the pandemic. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 9. More information about the rescheduling is available on their website.

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