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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Monday, March 23 updates

Gov. Whitmer issues "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, Spectrum Health hospital reports first COVID-19-related death, The Rapid implements reduced service schedule, and more statements from local organizations issued March 21-23, 2020.
Spectrum Health reported the first Kent County death related to COVID-19 at one of its hosptials on Friday, March 21, 2020.

Spectrum Health reported the first Kent County death related to COVID-19 at one of its hosptials on Friday, March 21, 2020. /Spectrum Health

Today, March 23, marks the beginning of the state of Michigan joining fellow states such as California, New York, Illinois, and Ohio in issuing and enforcing a stay-at-home, or shelter-in-place, order. This "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order in Michigan, affecting residents statewide, comes on the heels of many local developments that have unfolded over the weekend.

Shared in this Monday, March 23, 2020 update are statements impacting Grand Rapids residents from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health, The Rapid, and local music journalism resource Local Spins.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order (EO 2020-21), signed today, March 23, directs all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

The order, effective at 12:01am on Tuesday, March 24, will remain in place for at least the next three weeks.

“In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” said Governor Whitmer. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.”

Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that necessary in-person work.

Workers that are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more.

More details about the order and a full list of those designated “critical infrastructure workers” are available on the Executive Order page of the state’s website. More information about the state’s overall COVID-19 response plans is available at

Kent County Health Department

The Kent County Health Department has announced over the weekend the first death in Kent County linked to COVID-19, as well as the signing of a Public Health Order to mitigate the spread of the disease.

On Saturday, March 21, the Kent County Health Department confirmed the death of a 71-year-old male with underlying health issues.

"Our hearts go out to the family of this patient and everyone who is impacted by this illness in our community," said Kent County Health Department Director Dr. Adam London. "This death underscores how important it is for all of us to do what we can to help mitigating the spread of this virus, so it doesn't impact any more residents."

In light of this and all other unfolding developments, Dr. London signed a Public Health Order yesterday, March 22, requiring any individual providing childcare services for compensation to develop and implement a daily screening program for all staff, children, parents entering the facility, and other visitors entering the facility. This order is effective immediately and shall remain in effect until rescinded.

"I understand this Order may cause an inconvenience in our childcare facilities," said Dr. London. "However, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions to protect the health and safety of our residents in order to stop the community spread of this virus."

More information about these major developments is available on the COVID-19 page of the Kent County Health Department's website.

Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health has released a statement on the death of the 71-year-old Kent County male that the Kent County Health Department confirmed, who passed away at a local Spectrum Health hospital.

“On behalf of Spectrum Health and the clinical team dedicated to caring for this patient, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual,” said Joshua Kooistra, DO, chief medical officer, Spectrum Health.

“We were saddened by his death and realize it is difficult news for our community as we face the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak. All of our team members, from clinicians to support staff, are committed to caring for our COVID-19 patients. We are united with our communities in fighting this virus together.”

Spectrum Health has taken several steps to help fight the spread of COVID-19, which include increased promotion of prevention efforts practices, free virtual screening for COVID-19 to those in Michigan who have symptoms, Emergency Department triage tents at several of their hospitals, and downloadable community information and resources available on the COVID-19 page of Spectrum Health's website.

The Rapid

The Rapid has announced that, effective Tuesday, March 24, they will implement a reduced service schedule for all seven days of the week. This schedule will remain in place until further notice and aims to help slow the spread of the disease.

"The reduced service schedule was created with the goal of continuing to provide critical transit access to medical destinations including local hospitals, pharmacy and grocery service, and employment centers for individuals that are still reporting to their place of work," The Rapid said in a Sunday, March 22, statement.

"In addition, core ridership locations and travel patterns have been tracked for the last 10 days and have been factored into this schedule to ensure that it matches current demand to the greatest extent possible."

More information about the reduced service schedule is available on the COVID-19 page of The Rapid's website.

Local Spins

On the lighter side of recent local developments, local music journalism resource Local Spins has begun listing all live-stream concerts by Michigan musicians on their website for residents and viewers to enjoy during this continuing chapter of social distancing in Michigan and American life.

The "Viral Virtual Venues" listing aims to keep residents and viewers up to date on all upcoming live-stream sessions.

"If you're a band or solo artist staging a live-stream, enter info about the show [on our Viral Virtual Venues page]," Local Spins shared on their Facebook page. "If you're a fan, scroll the list for links to upcoming performances."

Sharing your story

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.

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