The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Monday, April 13 updates

Grand Rapids City Commission holding online meetings on April 14, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launches warmline to support Michiganders with mental health needs during pandemic, and more statements from area organizations issued April 13, 2020.
Kent County has 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13 confirmed deaths, as of April 13, 2020.

Kent County has 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13 confirmed deaths, as of April 13, 2020. /Antonia Enos

Kent County begins the week with 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13 confirmed deaths. Michigan now has 25,635 confirmed cases and 1,602 confirmed deaths. These numbers, reported by the State of Michigan, are as of today, April 13.

Shared in this Monday, April 13, update are continued responses impacting West Michigan from the City of Grand Rapids, the Kent County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.


Grand Rapids City Commission holding online meetings on Tuesday, April 14

The City of Grand Rapids announced today, April 13, that the City Commission will hold its bimonthly meetings online on Tuesday, April 14. The online meetings coincide with Gov. Whitmer’s extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order through Thursday, April 30.

Tuesday’s meetings will take place online through the video conferencing platform Webex. The schedule follows:

The Committee of the Whole and City Commission meetings will broadcast live in English on Comcast Channel 26, Facebook, and YouTube. They will also broadcast live on the City of Grand Rapids’ Spanish-language YouTube channel.

More information about the online meetings is available on the City of Grand Rapids' website.


Kent County Health Department helps launch Keep MI Healthy website to better understand pandemic's local impact

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) announced today, April 13, the launch of a new website – Keep MI Healthy – for residents to take an anonymous and secure survey that will help health care professionals better understand how to fight the COVID-19 disease.

With testing for COVID-19 still limited, difficulties have continued in understanding the current impact of the disease in Kent County, and planning ahead for potential hospitalizations related to the disease. The website – created by the KCHD, in partnership with other organizations – attempts to remedy that through the fast and simple survey for residents.

The information the website collects is how many residents in one’s household do or do not have symptoms related to COVID-19 and the zip code where these residents live. The website doesn’t collect personal details or any other identifying information.

Hopefully we get enough people to participate, so that we can begin to see: ‘Is the occurrence of these symptoms happening in a different way in the community? Are there surges in certain symptoms or reductions in the occurrence of certain symptoms happening in the community?’” said KCHD Director Adam London. “Hopefully we have a sample of people willing to help us with that, so that we can track those things and help to have one more tool in our toolbox to understand what’s happening with the overall health of our community.”

More information about the survey is available on the FAQ page on the Keep MI Healthy website.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launches warmline to support Michiganders with mental heath needs during pandemic

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) launched a statewide “warmline” today, April 13, for Michiganders living with persistent mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The warmline, or phone line, will connect residents with certified peer support specialists who have lived experiences of behavioral health issues, trauma, or personal crises, and are trained to support and empower the callers. The warmline will operate seven days a week from 10am– 2am at 888-733-7753. It’s intended to serve residents living with persistent mental health challenges including anxiety, depression, and trauma.

Residents in crisis, including those considering suicide, are urged to contact the Disaster Distress Helpline, operating 24/7, at 800-985-5990, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also operating 24/7, at 800-273-8255.

“The warmline will help individuals with long-term mental health challenges find someone to talk to – someone who has lived these challenges themselves – and do it while staying safe and staying home,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “COVID-19 is a grave threat not just to physical health, but also to mental health, and we are doing everything we can to offer supports for everyone.”

Warmlines are an alternative to traditional psychiatric crisis “hotlines” and are used to avoid extreme emotional distress that can lead to hospitalization or other severe outcomes that are preventable with early intervention of peer support. Warmlines aim to alleviate the burden on crisis responders by offering a solution for non-crisis callers.

More information about the statewide warmline is available on the MDHHS’ website.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joins 11 U.S. governors in asking Trump administration to reconsider decision on not reopening Affordable Care Act coverage enrollment during pandemic

Gov. Whitmer joined a coalition of 12 U.S. governors in sending a letter to Trump administration officials today, April 13, asking the administration to reconsider its decision not to open a special enrollment period for Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, coverage during the pandemic.

The Trump administration officials addressed in the letter are U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma.

Too many of our constituents are uninsured or underinsured despite the steps we’ve taken at the state level,” the governors said in a joint statement. “As a result, far too many of our residents are choosing to forgo coronavirus testing and treatment out of fear of the potential costs to themselves and their families. It is essential that we remove every barrier as quickly as possible to ensure those in our states and across the country are able to access the treatment they need.”

The coalition includes governors from Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin; in addition to Michigan.

One of the most effective ways this can be done is by opening up a federal special enrollment period to give everyone the chance to enroll in a health plan that offers the coverage they need with access to any qualifying subsidies,” the governors continued.

The Trump administration publicly decided against reopening ACA, or Obamacare, enrollment to uninsured Americans during the pandemic on Tuesday, March 31. That same day, a White House official told POLITICO that, despite the administration’s decision to forego a special enrollment period, the administration was "exploring other options."

More information about the governors’ letter is available on Gov. Whitmer’s website.


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