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COVID-19 in Grand Rapids: Friday, April 3 updates

Grand Rapids Public Library collecting COVID-19 stories, Ronald McDonald House and Spectrum Health's Renucci Hospitality House collaborate, and more updates from local organizations April 1-3, 2020.
Downtown - Grand Rapids Public Library

Downtown - Grand Rapids Public Library /Rachel F. T. Foss

As of 3pm today, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kent County has risen to 136. The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the county remains at two. Statewide, there has been an increase of 1953 cases to a grand total of 12,744, with 479 total deaths. The State of Michigan updates county-by-county COVID-19 data on their website every day at 3pm. 


Grand Rapids Public Library

Grand Rapids Public Library has kicked off a program of collecting personal stories about the impact of COVID-19 in our community. These stories will be compiled and added to their permanent archival collections, to be used by future researchers to understand the local impact of the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is something that most people have not experienced in their lifetimes. While there are many news reports, the library would like to capture the personal stories about what is happening in our community.

“Sharing our own stories can help us process some of the rapidly changing emotions we’re feeling,” says Julie Tabberer, GRHSC Manager. “Hearing about other people’s experiences is powerful. I hope it builds empathy in our community and encourages us to provide real, tangible support to our neighbors.”

The story-collecting process involves answering questions about your own experience via an online survey, including challenges you’ve faced due to COVID-19, and how you feel life will be different after this pandemic. Most of the questions are optional so that people can choose to answer what they are comfortable with. Folks are also invited to submit photos, videos, or audio recordings by emailing [email protected].

Grand Rapids Public Library provides more information about their COVID-19 Stories project at:


Ronald McDonald House and Spectrum Health’s Renucci Hospitality House collaborate amid COVID-19

To free-up potential clinical space at the Renucci Hospitality House, families from the house will live temporarily at Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan (RMHWM). Because of the shift, Spectrum Health can temporarily take over management of RMHWM during the COVID-19 pandemic. This collaboration will allow families traveling to Grand Rapids with ill loved ones hospitalized at Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to have access to homelike accommodations.

“Together, we are part of the all hands-on deck strategy to meet the potential needs of the community during this challenging pandemic,” said Ellen Carpenter, Executive Director of RMHWM.

Both Renucci House and Ronald McDonald House are currently not accepting additional reservations for families, a decision made several weeks ago as COVID-19 cases emerged in West Michigan.

“Crisis situations are difficult for everyone, but even more so when your family is already experiencing another crisis with a critically ill child. We are so proud of our partnership and the ability to come together in another example of the West Michigan community spirit,” said Carpenter.


GVSU student performance of "Lean on Me" resonantes deeper after death of musician Bill Withers

On March 30, Grand Valley State University (GVSU) a capella group, Euphoria, shared their virtual performance of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” to inspire fellow students and the Grand Valley State community while being apart from one another. Only a few days after this uplifting performance, singer and songwriter Bill Withers passed away due to heart complications.

The inspiration shared by the GVSU group reflects the hope expressed by the Withers' family. “In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones,” says Withers’ family.

Euphoria’s performance of “Lean on Me” can be accessed on GVSU’s YouTube channel.


Stimulus payments may be delayed by up to 20 weeks for some taxpayers 

NPR reported yesterday that according to a memo by House Democrats, it may take up to 20 weeks for some Americans to receive the cash payments included in the $2 trillion stimulus package approved by congress and signed into law last week. The IRS is expected to begin making 60 million direct deposits in mid-April, but taxpayers without a direct deposit account on file may experience a delay. According to the memo obtained by NPR, the IRS will start issuing paper checks about three weeks after direct deposits end, at a rate of about 5 million checks per week. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin disputes the time frame in the House memo, suggesting at Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing that a delay may be a matter of “weeks not months.” Mnuchin said t there will be an online portal for taxpayers to check the status of their payment and update direct deposit information by the end of April or early May. 

While the stimulus payment is based on 2018 tax returns,the IRS has extended the deadline, penalty-free, for filing 2019 tax returns from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The City of Grand Rapids has likewise extended its due date for city returns from April 30th to July 31st, 2020. For more information on city income taxes, visit the City of Grand Rapids Income Tax Department website.


The Wheel Run 5K is going virtual

The 24th annual Wheel Run 5K, which was previously postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, has shifted to a virtual platform. Participants can now take part remotely on July 11th.

The Wheel Run 5K is co-hosted by Grand Valley State University’s Department of Physical Therapy and Alternatives in Motion. According to their registration website, all proceeds support Alternatives in Motion, a local nonprofit that refurbishes mobility equipment and donates it to individuals in need. This year’s race was slated to take place on April 4th at 10am on Grand Valley’s Allendale campus. Now participants can run, walk, or hand-cycle from any location and still take part in the 5K festivities.


Fulton Street Farmers Market open this weekend and encouraging Grand Rapidians to #shoplocal and safely

Fulton Street Farmers Market has maintained its normal Saturday schedule, but several changes have been made to the layout of the market to help ensure the safety of vendor’s and shoppers alike. All vendors are located outside and spread out to alleviate crowd buildup and allow for proper social distancing. Additionally, six-foot distances have been marked along the market stalls to help direct shoppers in finding safe places to stand. The market asks shoppers to avoid handling and touching items, and to let the vendors assist you by gathering and bagging your purchase to limit direct content. To learn more about Fulton Street Farmers Market's new policies and to find out what is available this weekend, be sure to check out the In Season Report on The Rapidian.


Sharing your stories

The Rapidian will continue to report on all major local developments related to the spread of COVID-19 and the community's prevention and response methods. Local residents are encouraged at this time to share their own stories and perspectives related to the COVID-19 situation on The Rapidian's platform.

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