Published in Economic Development

Kent County ‘very vulnerable’ as businesses reopen, health director says

BY Tuesday, June 02, 2020 04:09pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County is in a “very vulnerable position” with the coronavirus pandemic as businesses prepare to reopen and gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted, Health Department Director Dr. Adam London said today.

Although overall trends are moving in a positive direction, hospital capacity is adequate and contract tracing is expanding, “our Grand Rapids region actually has the highest case rate of any region across the state of Michigan,” London said.

Dr. Adam London director, Kent County Health Department COURTESY PHOTO

He also said police brutality protests since Saturday “concern me greatly” because of the potential for COVID-19 to spread among participants in close spaces.

On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order rescinding the statewide stay-home order and allowing restaurants, bars and retail stores to reopen statewide under occupancy limits following the ongoing downward trend of positive cases and deaths. It moves the entire state into phase 4, the “improving” stage, of Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan.

London also noted that Kent County Back to Work, a public-private partnership helping employers with health screenings, is providing personal protective equipment to businesses as they reopen.

“While this is good news for us, I want to make it very clear that we’re in a very vulnerable position,” London said in a public address today. “Just because we’re seeing this steady downward trend does not mean we’re out of the woods with this. It does not mean that the pandemic is over.”

As of today, Kent County had 3,777 positive cases of COVID-19, an increase of 33 from the day before. It also saw four additional deaths, bringing the total to 93 people. Statewide, COVID-19 cases reached 57,731 and 5,553 deaths today.

London said if the case rate trends increase, “It’s very possible we could move back to phase 3. That would be a huge and costly problem for everyone. It would also be tragic for those families who are affected in a negative way by that.”

London stressed that social distancing and wearing masks in public will be crucial in the weeks ahead, and remote working should be done if possible.

“We need to make it difficult for this virus to spread, especially as we reopen the economy,” London said. “We have done such a great job. It would be tragic if we saw that go backwards.”

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