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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Monday, March 30 updates

West Michigan coalition launches business resources website, Gov. Whitmer expands unemployment benefits, Michigan Music Alliance raises funds for Michigan-based artists, and more statements from local organizations issued March 28-30, 2020.
Grand Rapids continues its social distancing and increased hygiene measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Grand Rapids continues its social distancing and increased hygiene measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. /Antonia Enos

A new week into the COVID-19 crisis brings with it more developments impacting Grand Rapids area residents.

Shared in this Monday, March 30, update are statements relevant to local life from the West Michigan COVID-19 Business Coalition, Gov. Whitmer’s Office, Projects for Purpose MI, and the Michigan Music Alliance.

West Michigan COVID-19 Business Coalition

A new coalition between several West Michigan business, community, and governmental organizations has launched a website for area businesses to find to accurate and timely information and guidance while navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

The website – – offers information on state and federal legislation, business continuity, employee resources and best practices, as well as health updates and links to organizations that can help. Its launch comes in response to confusion among business owners over how to navigate business slow-downs and shutdowns in the wake of the pandemic.

The coalition’s convening members are Experience Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Chamber, and The Right Place.

“This unprecedented situation has created significant operational challenges for many businesses across West Michigan,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. “During these times it is crucial to concentrate our efforts on fierce advocacy for business, as well as business sustainability, and work to provide resources to foster a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all.”

Other members in the coalition include the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (West MI), the City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., the Grand Rapids Urban League, Kent County, National Business League, Inc., the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, and West Michigan Works.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Several more developments at the state level have unfolded with impact for Grand Rapids area residents. These developments include President Trump’s approval of Gov. Whitmer’s request for a Major Disaster declaration, new programs to increase and expand unemployment benefits, and a new state-run volunteer website.

Trump’s Saturday, March 28, approval of Whitmer’s request for a Major Disaster declaration means that federal funding is now available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide relief and response measures to Michiganders during the ongoing crisis. Whitmer requested the declaration and associated funding on Thursday, March 26.

While Tump did not approve aid for every Individual Assistance and Public Assistance program within Whitmer’s full request, funding was approved for the Crisis Counseling program and for emergency protective measures from FEMA’s Public Assistance category.

“This is a good start, and it will help us protect Michiganders and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said of the funding.

More information about the approved declaration is available on the Office of Gov. Whitmer’s website.

Whitmer and the U.S. Department of Labor

Whitmer signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Department of Labor today, March 30, implementing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs. These programs grant benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits.

Workers include self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic,” Whitmer’s Office announced in a statement. “The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.”

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) will provide additional guidance regarding eligibility and application details in the coming days as it implements these new programs. More information will be available on the UIA’s website.

Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) launched today, March 30, in support of the continued COVID-19 response.

Michigan medical professionals may register on the site to help assist hospitals. Other state residents also can use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities, give blood, donate money or needed medical supplies, or assist public health officials in tracking infections.

“The time is now to save lives,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Doctors, nurses, medical assistants – please volunteer where we need you most. You can save lives. Michiganders in good health who want to serve seniors who are alone – safely, from a distance – please volunteer. You can save lives, too. If you’re ready to use your cell phone to trace infections to their source, please volunteer. You can save lives, too. Visit”

Projects for Purpose MI

Projects for Purpose MI announced today, March 30, the launch of another website for area residents to use as a resource while navigating the COVID-19 crisis.

The website – – serves as a directory for all Kent County organizations offering food, shelter, safety, and other services.

"The goal with this project is to include every local organization offering food, shelter, safety and health to any community members whose livelihoods have been adversely affected by COVID-19 measures here in Kent County in a simple and user-friendly way," Projects for Purpose MI announced in a statement.

The website was created as a joint effort between Projects for Purpose MI, Heart of West Michigan United Way, the Kent County Essential Needs Task Force, and more local organizations.

Michigan Music Alliance

Rounding out recent developments relevant to local life, The Michigan Music Alliance (MMA) announced today, March 30, that they raised over $11,000 over the weekend for their Michigan Artist Relief Fund.

MMA’s Michigan Artist Relief Fund aims to help Michigan-based artists recoup financial losses due to cancelled in-person music events in light of Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 response measures.

The fund was promoted over the weekend through their online Spread the Music Festival, which was an organized series of Facebook live-streamed performances by Michigan-based artists. Several of the artists hailed from the Grand Rapids area.

We raised over $11,000 over the weekend and hope we filled your home with music to make this time a little brighter,” the MMA shared on their Facebook page. “We are still fundraising, and the music won't stop! We'll have a concert every night until the crisis is over, right here on our Facebook page to raise awareness and encourage donations to the fund.”

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