The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Thursday, April 16 updates

Gov. Whitmer to coordinate with Midwest governors on reopening region’s economy, Grand Rapids Art Museum and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre continue online engagement during temporary closures, and more statements issued April 15-16, 2020.
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's Spring Classes begin in online format on April 18, 2020.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's Spring Classes begin in online format on April 18, 2020. /Rachel Foss

As of today, April 16, Kent County has a confirmed 385 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths. Statewide, there are a confirmed 29,263 cases and 2,093 deaths.

Shared in this Thursday, April 16, update are continued COVID-19 responses impacting Grand Rapids residents from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Kent County Health Department, the IRS, the U.S. Treasury Department, Grand Rapids Art Museum, and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to coordinate with Midwest governors on reopening region's economy

Gov. Whitmer joined fellow Midwest governors in announcing today, April 16, that they will work in close coordination to reopen the economy in the Midwest region.

The governors joining Whitmer in the partnership are Illinois’ J. B. Pritzker, Ohio’s Mike DeWine, Indiana’s Eric Holcomb, Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, Minnesota’s Tim Walz, and Kentucky’s Andy Beshear.

“We are doing everything we can to protect the people of our states and slow the spread of COVID-19, and we are eager to work together to mitigate the economic crisis this virus has caused in our region,” the governors said in a statement. “Here in the Midwest, we are bound by our commitment to our people and the community. We recognize that our economies are all reliant on each other, and we must work together to safely reopen them so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet.”

At least four factors will be closely examined when determining when best to reopen the Midwest region’s economy, which are sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence, and best practices for social distancing in the workplace.

The governors continued: “Phasing in sectors of our economy will be most effective when we work together as a region. This doesn’t mean our economy will reopen all at once, or that every state will take the same steps at the same time. But close coordination will ensure we get this right. Over time, people will go back to work, restaurants will reopen, and things will go back to normal. We look forward to working together as one region to tackle this challenge together.”

More information about the governors’ partnership in reopening the Midwest region’s economy is available on Whitmer’s website.


Kent County Health Department asks business owners to prepare for keeping employees safe following eventual end to "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order

Sharing Gov. Whitmer’s mindfulness of the eventual reopening of Michigan’s economy, Kent County Health Department (KCHD) Director Adam London asked business owners to start thinking about how to keep employees safe after they get back to work.

In the KCHD’s video update today, April 16, London said, “I want to encourage all of you – especially if you own or operate a business – please start thinking creatively about, ‘how can I screen for the health of my employees in my work place? How can I encourage the use of masks and other protective equipment in my workplace? How can I space my employees and my customers so the risk of transmission is as low as possible in that work environment?’”

We all have to work together to get this done,” London continued.

The KCHD’s daily video updates on COVID-19-related developments in Kent County are available on the KCHD’s website and Facebook and YouTube pages. Spanish-language versions of the updates are also available on the KCHD’s website and YouTube page.


IRS and U.S. Treasury Department launch Get My Payment tool to keep U.S. taxpayers updated on economic impact payments

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the launch of a Get My Payment tool on the IRS’ website yesterday, April 15, to help U.S. taxpayers check on their economic impact payment dates and update direct deposit information.

The economic impact payments – part of the CARES Act – come in response to the economic fallout nationwide as physical distancing measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease persist.

With an initial round of more than 80 million economic impact payments entering bank accounts over the last weekend and throughout this week, the Get My Payment tool will help address common questions, such as the projected date when a deposit has been scheduled – similar to the “Where’s My Refund tool” many taxpayers may already be familiar with.

Get My Payment will offer people with a quick and easy way to find the status of their payment and, where possible, provide their bank account information if we don’t already have it,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

The online tool is updated once daily and usually overnight. The IRS urges taxpayers to only use Get My Payment once a day given the large number of people receiving economic impact payments.

More information about distribution of the economic impact payments is available on the IRS’ website.


Grand Rapids Art Museum continues virtual tours, artist interviews, other online engagement during temporary closure

With museums in Michigan not reopening until at least April 30, as determined in Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order extension, Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) has continued offering “Experience the Museum from Home” resources on its website and social media to keep art lovers engaged.

Following Whitmer’s order and additional COVID-19-related guidelines, all scheduled public programming and private events at GRAM are canceled through May 31. This includes its Summer Art Camps and annual concert series GRAM on the Greena partnership with WYCE – 88.1fm.

“Museums serve as important places for inspiration, reflection, and comfort,” GRAM shared on its website. “While GRAM has temporarily closed, we remain committed to our mission of connecting people through art, creativity, and design.”

Available on GRAM’s website are virtual tours of its galleries and collection, led by GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen and GRAM Chief Curator Ron Platt. Artist interviews available on its site include artists who’ve exhibited work at GRAM, such as Maya Lin, Anila Quayyum Agha, and Michigan artist Dylan Miner. Also available are downloads for families, such as lesson plans, art activities, and gallery games for kids of all ages.

GRAM has also continued its Yoga at GRAM partnership with AM Yoga by sharing AM Yoga’s in-home sessions on its Facebook page. AM Yoga hosted monthly yoga sessions at GRAM, before GRAM’s temporary closure, during GRAM’s Meijer Free Thursday Nights.

A full list of GRAM’s online resources during this time is available on the Experience the Museum from Home page on its its website.


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre to begin its Spring Classes in online format, continues other online engagement during temporary closure

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (GRCT) has kept its patrons engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic by also continuing to embrace online engagement. Its Spring Classes begin on Saturday, April 18, in an online format, and its “Midday Play Series” featuring theatre-related activities and games is broadcasting Monday–Friday, around lunchtime on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

In light of the continuing pandemic, several plans of GRCT’s have been put on hold.

We have had to put a few things on hold while we join the efforts to keep our community safe at home,” said GRCT Executive and Artistic Director Bruce Tinker. “We’ve pressed pause on Performance Block 2020, SRTI, and summer TA training with hopes to bring those programs back in some capacity once the danger has passed. We’ve continued to move forward with some of the exciting new programming we already had in the works for fall! We’ll keep you posted on all of those things when we have more information share.”

Though several of GRCT’s plans have changed in the last few weeks, Tinker added that GRCT is “working hard to continue [its] mission of bringing live theatre to West Michigan in any way [it] can.”

A full list of GRCT’s updates during this time is available in the COVID-19 Updates page on its website.


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