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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Tuesday, April 21 updates

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services expands COVID-19 testing criteria to include any worker still reporting in-person, Grand Rapids Service Industry Network distributes donated food to local service industry workers in need, and more statements issued April 20-21, 2020.
Dave Cobb, manager at one of Grand Rapids' Aldi stores, donating food to the Grand Rapids Service Industry Network (GRSIN).

Dave Cobb, manager at one of Grand Rapids' Aldi stores, donating food to the Grand Rapids Service Industry Network (GRSIN). /Jacob Prell

Kent County now has 626 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 related deaths; an increase of 76 cases and one death since yesterday, April 20. Statewide, there are now 32,967 cases and 2,700 deaths. These numbers, reported daily by the State of Michigan at 3pm, come from results as of 10am each day.

Shared in this Tuesday, April 21, update are local and state responses related to the ongoing pandemic from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Grand Rapids Service Industry Network, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services expands testing criteria to include any worker still reporting in-person, launches large-scale, volunteer contact tracing effort

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is expanding its COVID-19 testing criteria to include all essential workers still reporting to work in-person, whether they have symptoms or not, it announced yesterday, April 20. The expanded criteria is effective today, April 21.

Inclusion of essential workers still working in-person in the MDHHS’ testing criteria will help identify asymptomatic Michiganders who may still be spreading the virus in public.

“This means that anyone with symptoms can get a test as well as any individual regularly interacting with others outside their household, as long as the testing location has the supplies,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS’ Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy for Health. “MDHHS is also working with local health departments to expand testing in group living facilities with potential exposure.”

The expanded testing criteria to include essential workers follows the MDHHS’ expansion of testing criteria last week on April 14 to include those with mild symptoms.

More information about the MDHSS’ expanded testing criteria is available on its website.

The MDHSS also launched a large-scale, volunteer contact tracing effort, it announced today, April 21. The effort aims to help determine and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Contact tracing is a proven public health strategy that involves identifying those affected by COVID-19 and interviewing friends, families, and others near that person about their contacts and symptoms,” the MDHHS said.

More than 2,200 volunteers have completed the MDHHS’ contact tracing training and are ready to begin aiding local health departments. This workforce will increase the speed and thoroughness of contact tracing statewide. These volunteers are in addition to more than 130 MDHHS staff who have been assisting local health departments with case investigation over the past couple weeks, and have reached more than 12,000 residents testing positive for COVID-19.

To volunteer for the contract tracing effort or other MDHHS efforts during this time, visit the COVID-19 Volunteers page on the MDHHS’ website. To locate a nearby COVID-19 testing site, visit the COVID-19 Test Finder page on the State of Michigan’s website.


Grand Rapids Service Industry Network distributes donated food to local service industry workers in need

As Michigan’s closure of nonessential businesses to mitigate COVID-19 continues, a group of Grand Rapids service industry workers have launched the Grand Rapids Service Industry Network (GRSIN) to distribute donated food and other supplies to fellow service and entertainment industry workers experiencing economic hardship.

The GRSIN collects food donations from local restaurants, grocery stores, colleges, and more to distribute throughout the community. It uses its Facebook page and public Facebook group to communicate with those with who may be in need.

If you find yourself in need (food, sanitary wipes, etc.), don’t be afraid to ask,” the GRSIN shared in its Facebook group. “If you have extra to donate, please let us know. We’re in this together.”

Food pickup presently happens every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 3pm-8pm at Flanagan’s Irish Pub in downtown Grand Rapids. The GRSIN also delivers within a 5-10 mile radius of this location. Pickup or delivery requests are preferred, which can be submitted on the Sign Up page on the GRSIN’s Facebook page.

After feeding over 5,000 people your help is needed to continue service,” said Derek Copp, an organizer for the GRSIN. “If you are able to donate or are in need of help please visit the Grand Rapids Service Industry Network Donations on Facebook.”


Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s Relax at Rosa entertainment series returns as virtual “Relax at Home”

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s (DGRI) annual lunchtime entertainment series, Relax at Rosa – usually held in downtown Grand Rapids’ Rosa Parks Circle – will begin in virtual form as “Relax at Home” this year, it announced yesterday, April 20. The change comes in response to the ongoing pandemic.

The free lunchtime series will return April 30 and take place through Facebook Live videos on its Facebook page. From 12pm–1:30pm on April 30 and the following 19 Thursdays, DGRI will feature a diverse lineup of performers through the series, geared for downtown workers. The series will end on September 10, 2020.

The lineup, available on DGRI’s website and Facebook Events page, is “booked tentatively as DGRI monitors the constantly changing public health situation,” DGRI said. The possibility remains that DGRI may transition Relax at Home to an in-person setting at Rosa Parks Circle at a later date, depending on how local, state, and federal public health and safety guidelines evolve over the coming months.


Grand Rapids Community Foundation extends Youth Grant Committee application deadline

In light of the pandemic's continued impact on families, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) is extending the application deadline for its 2020-2021 Youth Grant Committee (YGC) to May 11, 2020, it announced on its Facebook page today, April 21.

The GRCF’s YGC aims to engage students from public, private, and home-school high schools around greater Grand Rapids in the work of philanthropy. These students are able to gain leadership experience while working as part of a diverse team to make grant decisions that impact greater Grand Rapids’ nonprofit community.

During the school year, YGC members meet and assess youth issues, develop a request for proposals process to address those needs, follow up with previous grantees, conduct interviews and site visits, and present grant recommendations to the GRCF’s Board of Trustees.

More information about the YGC and its extended application process is available on the GRCF’s website.


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