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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Wednesday, May 6 updates

Kent County Health Department begins offering testing for all Kent County first responders, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services uses CARES Act funds to help aging Michiganders, and more statements issued May 4-6.
Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director, sharing updates on expanded COVID-19 testing in Kent County.

Dr. Adam London, Kent County Health Department Director, sharing updates on expanded COVID-19 testing in Kent County. /Kent County Health Department

As of May 6, Kent County has 2,016 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 41 deaths and 609 recoveries. Statewide, there are a confirmed 45,054 cases and 4,250 deaths. The statewide recovery number, last reported on May 1, is 15,659.

Shared in this May 4 update are area statements on health and economic responses to COVID-19 from the Kent County Health Department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


Kent County Health Department begins offering testing for all Kent County first responders

The Kent County Heath Department (KCHD) has begun offering COVID-19 testing for all of the county’s first responders, it announced May 6.

I'm very happy to say that today we start offering testing for all of our first responders,” KCHD Director Dr. Adam London shared in a video update. “We've been working with police chiefs, fire chiefs, and other leaders in the first-response community to make sure they have access to testing.”

Enabling access to testing for first responders, such as police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics, will help to limit the continued spread of COVID-19 in Kent County, in addition to protecting the workers themselves.

“[Testing] helps us to identify cases before they spread and before they infect their co-workers,” London continued, “so that we can slow down the transmission of the spread of this virus as much as possible, and protect those first responders who are so critical to our community all the time, but especially now, in the midst of this pandemic.”

The KCHD’s expansion of testing to first responders is part of its broader effort to offer testing to all vulnerable residents, which also includes high-risk populations like older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.

London also mentioned a half-hour video the KCHD released May 6, consisting of a conversation between London and Dr. Andrew Jameson, Chief of Infectious Disease at Mercy Health St. Mary’s. The two experts discussed at-length COVID-19 topics residents have been asking the KCHD about, such as antibody testing, face covering use, and how to keep one’s place of employment as low-risk as possible.

The KCHD’s daily video updates and video with Dr. Jameson are available on its website and Facebook and YouTube pages. Spanish-language versions of its daily video updates are also available on its YouTube page.


Michigan Department of Health and Human Services uses CARES Act funds to help aging Michiganders

With nearly $25.3 million received from the federal CARES Act, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will use the funds to help aging Michiganders stay healthy and live independently, the MDHHS announced May 6.

The MDHHS has allocated CARES Act funds to Michigan’s Older Americans Act programs, which provide a wide range of services to residents aged 60 and up, such as help with bathing and dressing, rides to doctors’ offices, education on managing chronic illnesses, and support for family caregivers.

The need for these services has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 have closed locations where many people typically receive services, making it difficult for families to assist loved ones who live alone,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, Senior Deputy Director of the Aging & Adult Services Agency within the MDHHS.

The Older Americans Act programs are serviced by a network of community-based organizations, which includes Area Agencies on Aging, local community and senior centers, faith-based organizations, Commissions and Councils on Aging, and other nonprofit service providers.

More details about the MDHHS’ new funding for helping aging Michiganders during the pandemic are available in a statement on its website.


State of Michigan awards more financial relief to Michigan bars, restaurants, and small businesses

657 bar and restaurant owners across Michigan have been awarded more than $3.3 million in financial relief, Gov. Whitmer announced May 4. The relief averages to over $5,000 per business.

The $3.3 million relief comes through the state’s liquor buyback program, initiated by Whitmer’s April 13 executive order and administered by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC).

“I know the financial losses have been incredibly devastating to business owners in the hospitality industry during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Whitmer. “I am pleased that through this innovative program, we can provide much-needed cash to hundreds of Michigan’s bars and restaurants that are struggling right now, to help tide them over until they’re open for business again.”

The buyback program offered a 100% cash buyback to on-premise liquor licensees for spirits they had ordered from the MLCC prior to March 16.

In addition to the state government’s relief for bar and restaurant owners, $10 million in awarded grants to more than 2,700 Michigan small businesses was announced on May 6. The relief averages to over $3,700 per business.

The $10 million in grants were awarded by local economic development organizations through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program (MSBRP), which is ultimately administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

“The Michigan Small Business Relief Program grants were intended to provide critical capital to support the health and sustainability of the state’s small businesses, communities, and workforce,” MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton said. “By collaborating with our local economic development partners, we were able to deliver vital resources to small businesses all across Michigan.”

More details about the state’s bar and restaurant relief are available in a statement on Whitmer’s official website. More details about the MSBRP grants are available in a statement on the MEDC’s website.


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