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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Tuesday, March 31 updates

U.S. Treasury Department announces details on economic impact payments, Michigan National Guard begins aid to Comstock Park food bank, Grand Rapids Symphony launches online performance series, and more statements from local organizations issued March 30-31, 2020.
The Grand Rapids Symphony began cancelling concerts and events on Thursday, March 12, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Grand Rapids Symphony began cancelling concerts and events on Thursday, March 12, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. /Experience Grand Rapids

Responses to the COVID-19 crisis continue on at the local, state, and federal levels.

Shared in this Tuesday, March 31, update are responses relevant to Grand Rapids area residents from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the IRS, Gov. Whitmer’s Office, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and Artists Creating Together.

U.S. Department of the Treasury and IRS

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced yesterday, March 30, that distribution of economic impact payments for those qualifying will begin in the next three weeks.

The payments – part of the newly-signed CARES Actcome in response to the economic fallout happening nationwide as social distancing measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 have taken effect.

Payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people,” the U.S. Department of the Treasure and the IRS said in a statement. “However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.”

More information about who is eligible for the economic impact payments and how they will be sent is available on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on the IRS’ website.

Gov. Whitmer’s Office

Despite the economic fallout felt across the U.S., Gov. Whitmer’s Office announced today, March 31, that over 2,000 Michigan companies are presently hiring.

Michigan companies need to fill thousands of critical, immediate vacancies to support work during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, and agribusiness industries,” Whitmer’s Office said. “The State’s employment search engine – Pure Michigan Talent Connect – provides job seekers and employers with an online portal at to post, search, and connect to these job openings.”

Enhanced search functionality has also been added to the website to better connect job seekers with these critical opportunities.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) notes that several job postings on the website feature multiple positions available.

In other statewide news impacting Grand Rapids area residents, Whitmer’s Office announced yesterday, March 30, that the Michigan National Guard (MNG) has received a request to aid food banks in select communities across the state. Among these communities is nearby Comstock Park with its Feeding America West Michigan food bank.

The MNG’s support to the food banks began yesterday, March 30, and is expected to continue through mid-April. This support will include directing traffic for the drive-through distribution site, assisting with packing bags of fruit, and handing bags to cars. The guard members will perform their duties with personnel protective equipment to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including gloves and hand sanitizer.

The Michigan National Guard strives to be a provider of exceptional service,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard. “As the response to COVID-19 continues, we stand ready to serve our neighbors, family, and friends in the communities in which we live and work.”

Grand Rapids Symphony

The Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) has announced a new online series of daily performances by GRS musicians to be broadcasted on their Facebook and YouTube pages.

The series – From Our Home to Yours – comes on the heels GRS’ cancellation of concerts and events that began on Thursday, March 12, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The GRS offices closed on Monday, March 16.

In challenging times, we need music more than ever,” Lehninger said. “Our talented musicians will be performing from their homes to yours.”

Currently, the GRS plans to publish a new video performance at 9am each morning, seven days a week, through Thursday, April 30. The series debuted on Friday, March 27, with a recent video featuring Principal Cellist Alicia Eppinga and Music Director Marcelo Lehninger on piano.

Performers will also include Associate Conductor John Varineau, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt, Symphony Chorus Director Pearl Shangkuan, Youth Chorus co-director Leah Ivory, and President & CEO Mary Tuuk.

More information about the From Our Home to Yours series is available on GRS’ website.

Artists Creating Together

Artists Creating Together (ACT), a nonprofit engaging individuals with disabilities through the arts, began their ACTion Art Virtual Exhibition today, March 31.

The exhibition’s virtual component comes in light of the temporary closure of many physical spaces around Grand Rapids in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Usually an in-person event, ACT’s annual ACTion Art Exhibition empowers over 100 adult artists with disabilities to display their art in a professional gallery format, and allows them to market and sell their work within the larger community. In previous years, it’s been hosted at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

This year, with the event being online, the Action Art Virtual Exhibition will be displayed on ACT’s website.

Viewers can vote for their favorite pieces by clicking on as many entries as they like,” ACT’s website states. “The artist with the most public votes will receive the People’s Choice award.”

Additionally, three ACTion Art 2020 artists will be awarded with a Jurors' Choice Award. Jurors' Choice awardees will be entered into ArtPrize 2020, with all applicable ArtPrize 2020 entry fees paid for by ACT. Cash awards will also be given to all ACTion Art 2020 winners.

Voting for the exhibition closes on Thursday, April 2.

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