The Rapidian

COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Tuesday, April 7 updates

City of Grand Rapids closes many park amenities, Love Local GR serves as online list of local businesses needing support, and more statements from area organizations issued April 6-7, 2020.
The City of Grand Rapids will be closing common touchpoint amenities in its parks, effective April 7, 2020.

The City of Grand Rapids will be closing common touchpoint amenities in its parks, effective April 7, 2020. /City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation

Today, April 7, sees 187 positive coronavirus cases now confirmed in Kent County, with six confirmed deaths. Statewide, 18,970 cases are now confirmed, with 845 confirmed deaths. Local and state responses continue in step.

Shared in this Tuesday, April 7, update are responses relevant to Grand Rapids residents from the City of Grand Rapids, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Love Local GR.


City of Grand Rapids closes common touchpoint amenities in parks

City Manager Mark Washington and other City of Grand Rapids leaders provided an update to the City Commission today, April 7, about local coronavirus response and recovery efforts. This update included an announcement that the city government will be closing common public touchpoint amenities in its parks, effective immediately.

The closed amenities include restrooms, drinking fountains, playgrounds, swimming pools, basketball courts, softball and baseball fields, and more. Their closure aims to encourage physical distancing to help slow the spread of the virus.

Our decision to issue these restrictions is based on statistics on what other urban park agencies are pursuing, our own local anecdotal evidence of what is taking place in our parks, and, most importantly, the guidance and recommendations coming from federal, state, and local health professionals,” said David Marquardt, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director.

As the use of parks, trails, and open spaces is allowed under Gov. Whitmer’s March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, the City of Grand Rapids urges visitors to follow the 6-foot physical distancing requirement while visiting.

A full list of closed park amenities is available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.


Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services informs Michiganders about healthcare options during crisis

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) released a statement today, April 7, informing Michiganders who have experienced job loss or a loss of income that low or no-cost healthcare options are available to them.

The available healthcare options for such residents are through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Consumers in these situations are not required to wait for the yearly Open Enrollment Period and are encouraged to act now.

Michiganders who lose employer-based health insurance may have options to continue or replace their coverage,” said DIFS Director Anita G. Fox. “If consumers have questions about enrolling, DIFS is available to assist.”

Depending on income and their situation, residents may qualify for cost sharing reductions, premium tax credits, coverage for their children (CHIP), or Medicaid. Residents are encouraged to contact DIFS toll free at 877-999-6442 if they need assistance.

More information about DIFS’ assistance is available on their website.


Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association launches relief fund for restaurant and hospitality industry employees

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation (MRLAEF) announced yesterday, April 6, the launch of the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund. The fund will support employees from Michigan’s restaurant and hospitality industries who have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The hospitality industry has been upended by the pandemic with more than half of the 600,000 hospitality workers in Michigan expected to temporarily lose their jobs,” said Justin Winslow, President & CEO of the MRLA. “The professionals who dedicate themselves each day to improving ours through excellent service and world-class hospitality don’t deserve this outcome. We are all in this fight together and have committed to match dollar for dollar the first $100,000 in contributions made to the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund.”

$500 grants will be awarded to approved applicants until the fund’s resources have depleted. Applicants must demonstrate proof of employment in the restaurant and hospitality industries on Tuesday, March 10, the date of Gov. Whitmer’s state of emergency declaration, as well as proof of furlough or job loss in the wake of that date.

More information about the Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund and how to apply is available on the MRLAEF’s website.


Local Love GR website serves as resource list for local businesses needing support

A coalition of Grand Rapids organizations have come together to curate content for the new Love Local GR website – – which serves as a resource list for local businesses needing support during the coronavirus crisis.

Local businesses include those in the food, beverage, retail, service, and entertainment industries. Ways to support these businesses are shared, which range from purchasing gift cards to contributing to emergency support funds for employees.

While COVID-19 will upend our small local business sector, there are things we can do right now – largely without leaving home – to help our local businesses manage through the crisis and survive,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss shared in a statement on the Love Local GR website. “Purchasing gift cards, ordering food to go or for delivery (and tipping well), shopping online or, contributing to an emergency support fund for employees. These are just a few ways we can help.”

Launched by the City of Grand Rapids, the website’s content was curated in partnership with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Eat.News, Experience Grand Rapids, Local First, SocialGR, The Image Shoppe, and Women’s LifeStyle Magazine.


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