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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Monday, May 4 updates

City of Grand Rapids invests $67 thousand in resident leadership projects focused on COVID-19 resiliency, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launches 24/7 crisis text line for Michiganders experiencing mental health issues during pandemic, and more statements issued May 2-4.
The Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids, MI. /David Guthrie

As of May 4, Kent County now has 1,854 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 39 deaths and 499 recoveries. Statewide, there are a confirmed 43,950 cases and 4,135 deaths. The statewide recovery number as of May 1 is 15,659.

Shared in this May 4 update are continuing COVID-19 responses relevant to local life from the City of Grand Rapids, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.


City of Grand Rapids invests $67 thousand in resident leadership projects focused on pandemic resiliency

The City of Grand Rapids will invest $66,970 in neighborhood projects focused on COVID-19 resident and community resiliency, it announced May 4. The projects will also support public health guidelines and executive orders around safety practices such as physical distancing and face coverings.

The funded projects are part of the City’s Neighborhood Match Fund (NMF), which regularly awards contracts to residents organizing projects and opportunities that bring neighbors together to learn, build relationships, and celebrate community.

For this NMF funding round, $66,970 is being invested in 10 contracts with resident leaders for approved proposals that address wellness, safety, and/or basic needs for Grand Rapids residents who, due to structural inequities, are most vulnerable to exposure and/or negative economic impact related to the pandemic.

The contracts were awarded to the Baxter Community Center, Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network, Rising Grinds Café, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, Our Kitchen Table, Urban Core Collective, Anishinaabe Circle, Madison Food Mobile Panty, Grand Rapids African American Community Task Force, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Eta Nu Lambda Chapter.

Each project is led or co-led by a Grand Rapids resident. Submitted project proposals were reviewed for completeness and alignment to NMF objectives and COVID-19 resiliency priorities.

More information about the newly-funded projects is available in a statement on the City’s website.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launches 24/7 crisis text line for Michiganders experiencing mental health issues during pandemic

Michiganders can now text “RESTORE” to Crisis Text Line (CTL) to get mental health support during the pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced May 4.

By texting the word "RESTORE" to 741741, a trained crisis counselor will be available 24/7, seven days a week, for conversation with those experiencing everything from anxiety and financial issues to suicide and domestic violence. The service is part of the MDHHS’ “Stay Home, Stay Well” initiative.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic and related financial hardships, we know that, now more than ever, Michigan residents are coping with stress and anxiety that can result in a mental health crisis,” said Allen Jansen, MDHHS’ Senior Deputy Director of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration. “By texting RESTORE to 741741, Crisis Text Line will help people Stay Home and Stay Well – along with other expanded mental health crisis services the state is providing.”

Michiganders texting 741741 will also receive referrals to local mental health resources and connections. Crisis texts are confidential, but will provide the state with broad trends to understand the need for any additional services.

The text support service is a partnership between the MDHHS and CTL. CTL is a global nonprofit organization, founded in 2013, that has provided free confidential crisis intervention through text message on an international level.

More information about this support service available to Michiganders is available in a statement on the MDHHS’ website.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer creates the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability to oversee all spending addressing pandemic, extends more mitigation efforts

Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order May 4 creating the Michigan COVID-19 Office of Accountability, which will provide oversight of all spending to address the pandemic.

The Accountability Office, part of the State Budget Office (SBO), will report regularly on its work to Whitmer and the State Budget Director, Chris Kolb.

Protecting the people of Michigan and lowering the chance of a second wave has demanded flexibility and decisiveness, and has also required funds from the state treasury, philanthropic sources, and the federal government,” Whitmer said. “Michiganders have the right to expect that state government will be responsible stewards of their resources, especially in a time of crisis. I will continue to work around the clock to ensure these resources are spent wisely, in compliance with the law, and in a transparent and accountable manner.”

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (MDTMB) will designate a Chief COVID-19 Accountability Officer to lead the Accountability Office.

Whitmer also signed orders over the weekend on May 2-3 extending more state COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The May 2 order extended existing safety measures to protect consumers and employees at grocery stores and pharmacies through May 29. The May 3 order extended the rules protecting vulnerable residents in care facilities through May 31.

More details about Whitmer’s May 3-5 orders are available on the Executive Orders page on Whitmer’s official website.


Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids offers weekly online support groups and workshops for locals experiencing emotional health issues during pandemic

Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, creator of LaughFest, has been offering over 25 weekly online support groups and workshops for local residents experiencing emotional health issues throughout the pandemic. It’s also been offering live streamed meditation and entertainment events.

Support groups are held by Gilda’s Club through the Zoom app and last an hour. Among the support groups are those related to lung cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, and living with traumatic grief.

A full list of Gilda’s Club's upcoming online support groups and workshops is available on the Virtual Clubhouse Happenings page on its website.


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