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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Friday, May 8 updates

Gov. Whitmer extends “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 28, Mercy Health resumes select non-emergency procedures and surgeries amid COVID-19 case growth flattening, and Grand Valley State University develops pandemic-minded learning options for fall semester students.
Gov. Whitmer cautioned against moving too quickly through her MI Safe Start Plan detailed May 7.

Gov. Whitmer cautioned against moving too quickly through her MI Safe Start Plan detailed May 7. /Experience Grand Rapids

As of May 8, Kent County has 2,135 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 41 deaths and 732 recoveries. Statewide, there are a confirmed 46,326 cases and 4,393 deaths. Statewide recoveries, last reported May 1, are 15,659.

Shared in this May 8 update are continued mitigation efforts relevant to local life from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mercy Health, and Grand Valley State University.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 28, enables manufacturing work to reopen, details MI Safe Start plan to re-engage Michigan economy

Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order May 7 extending her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through May 28, while enabling manufacturing work to reopen and detailing her MI Safe Start plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy.

Like the original March 23 stay-home order and April 9 and 24 extensions, the new order continues to limit gatherings, travel, and the work activity of workers not necessary to sustain or protect life – with a further amended scope.

Manufacturing workers, including those at Michigan’s Big Three auto companies, may resume work on May 11. Upon resuming, manufacturing facilities must train workers on COVID-19’s transmission process, signs, and symptoms, as well how to use personal protective equipment and notify of potential exposure. The facilities must also implement COVID-19 screening protocols such as temperature screenings and questionnaires covering symptoms and potential exposures.

Whitmer has been working with leaders in the manufacturing industry on how best to prepare workers for return to work. Among these leaders is Joe Walsh, President and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

The safety of our workers is our top priority and I am confident that Michigan manufacturers are prepared to deliver on the worker protections included in [the May 7] order,” said Walsh. “We believe the manufacturing industry has a big role to play in Michigan's economic recovery and we're ready to lead the way.”

The resuming of manufacturing work coincides with Whitmer’s detailing of her six-phase MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy. Whitmer said Michigan is presently in phase three.

The phases of the plan are:

  1. Uncontrolled growth: Only critical infrastructure remains open.
  2. Persistent spread: Only critical infrastructure remains open, with lower-risk recreational activities allowed.
  3. Flattening: Specified lower-risk businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.
  4. Improving: Additional businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.
  5. Containing: Most businesses can reopen given adherence to strict safety measures.
  6. Post-pandemic: Community spread is not expected to return and the economy is fully reopened.

Whitmer cautioned against the state moving too quickly through the plan and said she continues to work closely with business, labor, and education leaders to determine the best way to move forward each day.

The worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we've made,” said Whitmer. “That's why we will continue to monitor the spread of this virus, hospital capacity, testing rates, and more as we work toward reaching the ‘improving’ phase.”

More details about Whitmer’s latest extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and her MI Safe Start Plan are available on her official website's Press Releases page.


Mercy Health resumes select non-emergency procedures and surgeries as Michigan COVID-19 case growth flattens

The Mercy Health system, operating in Grand Rapids and Muskegon, is resuming select non-emergency procedures and surgeries unrelated to COVID-19, it announced May 7. The resuming of such procedures comes as COVID-19 case growth continues to flatten.

"While we know COVID concerns are still high, we don't want patients' conditions to deteriorate or urgent needs to become emergent due to a reluctance to seek appropriate care," said Dr. Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, Chief Clinical Officer for Trinity Health Michigan. "We are working together with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and our fellow health systems in a coordinated effort to begin treating patients for both ambulatory and hospital-based non-COVID issues."

Through a phased reopening approach, Mercy Health is now addressing health conditions that may not be immediately life threatening but will result in worsening of the patient’s health and wellbeing if not addressed within the coming month. These procedures include cancer operations, vascular bypass, and diagnostic procedures.

While the COVID-19 case growth curve has begun to flatten in Michigan for now, Mercy Health continues to enhance COVID-related safety precautions already in place in order to resume select surgeries and procedures. Included in these enhanced precautions are COVID-free zones separating patients from those confirmed to have COVID-19, testing all patients scheduled for elective procedures for COVID-19, and more.

More information about Mercy Health’s enhanced safety precautions during this time is available on its website’s COVID-19 page.


Grand Valley State University developing flexible learning options for fall semester students

In support of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students returning to school in the fall, GVSU leaders are developing three pandemic-minded learning options for when the fall semester arrives, the leaders announced May 6.

The learning options GVSU leaders are developing are in-person instruction, fully online, and a hybrid model. Faculty members are involved with professional development to make sure all courses using these options are engaging for students.

During a May 6 virtual town hall with more than 1,200 new GVSU students and their supporters, GVSU’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Maria Cimitile, said that the planned fall courses will reflect the different circumstances students may face because of the pandemic.

"We are preparing our academic schedules so you have choices and opportunities," Cimitile said. "We are planning for a very flexible schedule so you have options."

More information about GVSU’s pandemic response measures are available on its website's Coronavirus Information page.


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