The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Monday, April 20 updates

Kent County Health Department gives update on local COVID-19 recovery data, City of Grand Rapids and Kent County share list of mental health resources for locals navigating pandemic, and more statements issued April 17-20, 2020.
Lake Dr. in Grand Rapids, MI.

Lake Dr. in Grand Rapids, MI. /John Holkeboer

As of today, April 20, there are a reported 550 COVID-19 cases in Kent County, with 24 deaths. Michigan-wide, there are 32,000 cases, with 2,468 deaths. Local and state responses continue in step.

Shared in this Monday, April 20, update are statements impacting Grand Rapids residents from the Kent County Health Department, the City of Grand Rapids, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Walmart.


Kent County Health Department gives update on COVID-19 recovery data for Kent County

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) will begin sharing COVID-19 recovery data for Kent County as soon as it becomes comfortable with the data’s accuracy, the KCHD shared in its daily COVID-19 video update today, April 20.

“I want to be very clear. We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re being as transparent as we can be with the data,” said KCHD Director Dr. Adam London. “The way this works is that doctors are required to inform the local health department when they have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. What they don't have is a requirement to notify us when someone has recovered – so our recovery tracking is a little complicated.”

London said that the State of Michigan is using a recovery data model where it looks at 30 days of survival past diagnosis or past the onset of symptoms. If someone has survived that period time, the state counts that as a recovery. As of today, the state’s reporting 3,236 statewide recoveries.

Here in Kent County, we haven't had that many, because 30 days ago we only had a small handful of cases,” London continued. “We have, however, been working with the hospitals and with providers to get an idea about how many people have recovered. So far, we believe there's a little over 100, maybe 110, people who've recovered here in Kent County.”

Beyond this information, London said there are presently about 100 Kent County residents who are hospitalized and about 300 who are recovering at home with milder symptoms.

A comprehensive breakdown of the COVID-19 data the KCHD is presently sharing with the public is available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard on its website.


City of Grand Rapids and Kent County share mental health resources for locals navigating COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Grand Rapids shared an infographic on its Facebook page today, April 20, listing a variety of mental health resources available to area residents while navigating the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. It attributes the list to Kent County’s administrative office.

Most of the resources listed are locally-operated:

“Our mental health is just as important as our physical health during this challenging time,” the City of Grand Rapids said in a Facebook post accompanying the infographic.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs executive orders creating Michigan Coronavirus Task Force for Racial Disparities, extending suspension of evictions, extending restrictions on price gouging

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order (EO 20-55) today, April 20, creating the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

The task force will study the causes of racial disparities in the impact of COVID-19 and advise Whitmer on actions to immediately address such disparities and the historical and systemic inequities that underlie them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color throughout Michigan, with the State of Michigan reporting that African Americans represent 40% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. African Americans represent 13.6% of the state’s population.

We know that generations of racial disparities and inequality has a detrimental impact on the lives of people across the state,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown this inequity to be particularly damaging, especially in the Black community, where the health of our friends and family has been disproportionately impacted. That’s why we are taking immediate action to assemble some of the greatest minds to tackle this racial injustice now and in the future.”

The task force will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Gilchrist and include Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon or his designee, Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, and 23 members appointed by Whitmer.

More information about the task force and related executive order is available in a statement on Whitmer’s Office’s website.

Whitmer also signed executive orders (EO 20-54 and EO 20-53) on Saturday, April 18, extending her previous orders suspending evictions and enhancing restrictions on price gouging.

Right now the most effective tool we have to fight this virus is to stay home and slow the spread through person to person contact,” said Whitmer. “That is why it is important to extend my executive order to suspend evictions so people can focus on staying home and staying safe. And by continuing to enforce restrictions on price gouging, we can protect consumers and ensure more Michigan families can protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19.”

Both orders were effective Saturday, April 18, and continue until May 15, 2020.

More information about the additional executive orders is available in a statement on Whitmer’s Office’s website.


Walmart requires all Walmart and Sam’s Club employees to wear face coverings at work, encourages customers to wear face coverings while shopping

Walmart is requiring all of its Walmart and Sam’s Club employees to wear face coverings at work, effective today, April 20, it announced. It's also encouraging customers and members to wear face coverings as they shop in its stores.

The new policy aims to protect customers and its employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic and includes its stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers, and corporate offices. In the greater Grand Rapids area, there are four Walmart stores and two Sam’s Club stores.

We have evolved our policy on face coverings from optional to mandatory as public health guidance has shifted,” Walmart President and CEO John Furner and Sam’s Club President and CEO Math McLay said in a joint statement. “The CDC now recommends wearing face coverings in public settings, including grocery stores, to help curb the spread of the virus. Although most state and local governments do not mandate the use of face coverings in public settings, the CDC has reported that recent studies show a significant portion of individuals with the virus lack symptoms and can transmit the virus.”

With this knowledge,” Furner and McLay continued, “we believe it is simply in everyone’s best interest to use masks or face coverings to curb the spread of this disease.”

More information about Walmart’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts is available on its website.


Sharing your stories

The Rapidian will continue to report on all major local developments related to the spread of COVID-19 and the community's prevention and response methods. Local residents are encouraged at this time to share their own stories and perspectives related to the COVID-19 situation on The Rapidian's platform.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.