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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Thursday, April 9 updates

Gov. Whitmer extends “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order though April 30, City of Grand Rapids reminds residents not to flush wipes and other cleaning items, and more statements from area organizations issued April 8-9, 2020.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provided coronavirus updates and detailed extension of the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order on April 9, 2020.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer provided coronavirus updates and detailed extension of the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order on April 9, 2020. /Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Today, April 9, marks 233 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kent County and nine confirmed deaths. Statewide, the number has risen to 21,504 confirmed cases and 1,076 confirmed deaths.

With the state reaching new milestones of over 20,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths, intensified efforts at the state and local levels have followed in response.

Shared in this Thursday, April 9, update are statements impacting Grand Rapids residents from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the City of Grand Rapids, the Kent County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the American Red Cross, and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extends "Stay Safe, Stay Home" order though April 30

Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order (EO 20-22) today, April 9, extending her previous “Stay Safe, Stay Home” order through Thursday, April 30.

Like the previous March 23 order, the new order limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. The new order also imposes stricter limitations on stores remaining open to reduce foot traffic. All limitations have been put in place to continue to mitigate the ongoing spread of the coronavirus disease.

Michigan has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families,” said Whitmer. “Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.”

Under the newest order, all public and private gatherings among residents outside a single household remain temporarily prohibited. Though Michiganders may leave the house to get groceries or needed supplies, the order encourages residents to limit the number of household members running errands to the maximum extent possible.

As before, residents may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, canoeing, or any other recreational activity, as long as they are consistent with remaining at least six feet from those outside a resident’s household and with other restrictions imposed by previous executive orders.

A new section of the order imposes restrictions on stores in an effort to reduce crowds. Large stores must limit the number of those in the store at one time to no more than four customers for every 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. Small stores must limit capacity to 25% of the total occupancy limits, including employees, under the fire codes.

This doesn’t mean everything will go back to normal on May 1,” Whitmer continued. “But based on the data we have right now, this is the appropriate window for an extension. It will take time to safely and responsibly re-open the economy, which is why we will continue to provide critical unemployment support and assistance to our small businesses during this challenging time. We will get through this if we all continue to do our part.”

More details about the executive order is available on the Executive Orders page of Whitmer’s state webiste.


City of Grand Rapids reminds residents not to flush wipes and other cleaning items

The City of Grand Rapids released a statement today, April 9, reminding residents not to flush cleaning wipes and other disinfectant items labeled disposable or flushable down the toilet. The reminder comes as the city government continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cleaning wipes – even those labeled flushable and disposable – don’t always break down in the sewer system and can cause sewage backups and costly cleanups. They also have negative environmental and public health consequences.

We’re seeing increased waste in the pipes as residents do their best to sanitize and clean more often,” Nicole Pasch, the City of Grand Rapids’ acting Assistant Environmental Services Manager, said. “During this time, we need to remember how important the sewer system is for public health. That’s why we’re reminding the community to throw wipes in the trash instead of flush them down the toilet at home or the workplace.”

Other items that shouldn’t be flushed down residents’ toilets include paper towel, diapers, feminine hygiene products, facial tissue, trash, and more. The only item that should be flushed is toilet paper.

A more detailed list of all commonly-used items that shouldn’t be flushed down toilets is available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.


Kent County Health Department and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services improve websites' coronavirus data features

To continue to keep residents as informed as possible on all of the accumulating data surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the Kent County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have both improved their websites’ features.

On the Kent County Health Department’s (KCHD) website, a new online dashboard has been launched to better visualize the data on the number of confirmed, negative, and pending cases of coronavirus within Kent County. The dashboard also compares the number of confirmed cases and deaths across the state.

KCHD’s new dashboard can be found through the Kent County COVID-19 dashboard link on its website.

On the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services’ (MDHHS) website, additional and improved statistics are now available. This includes the number of residents recovered, testing data by state preparedness region, and hospital utilization information. The number of residents recovered will be updated weekly and testing data by state preparedness region and hospital utilization information will be updated daily.

MDHHS’ additional and improved statistics can be through the See Cumulative Data link near its website’s interactive map.


American Red Cross seeks plasma donations from those who've fully recovered from COVID-19 coronavirus

Gov. Whitmer shared on her Facebook page yesterday, April 8, that the American Red Cross is seeking people “who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to help current patients with life-threatening COVID-19 infections by donating plasma.”

If one has fully recovered from a COVID-19 coronavirus diagnosis, one can fill out the Potential Donor form on the American Red Cross’ website.

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus,” the American Red Cross stated on its website. “This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients seriously ill with COVID-19. Historically, convalescent plasma has been used as a potentially lifesaving treatment when new diseases or infections develop quickly, and no treatments or vaccines were available yet.”

More information for those able to donate such plasma is available on the Red Cross’ website.


Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warns Michiganders of door-to-door scammers

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned Michiganders today, April 9, about door-to-door scammers who may try to pose as government officials offering information on stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, or other programs and services in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“While we are not aware of any specific instances of door-to-door scammers in Michigan, residents should be prepared for anything in this time of emergency,” Nessel said. “Scammers will attempt to deceive you and steal personal information or money in all kinds of ways and going door-to-door is not a new tactic. Do not fall for these tricks.”

Any contact from someone posing as an official should be verified by asking for credentials, or independently contacting the agency or entity the person claims to be representing. Reports of any door-to-door scammers should be reported to law enforcement agencies where the scam is taking place and can be reported to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team.

Reports can be filed online on the Complaints page of the Attorney General’s website or by calling the Consumer Protection tip line at 877-765-8388.


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