By Annah Johnson
Michigan has seen a discouragingly rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, with reported cases surpassing four times the recorded amount in mid-February. The latest report from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recorded that 18% of tests are positive, almost mirroring the metrics from last spring at the start of the first surge.
Of the 9,674 new cases in Michigan, 452 are represented within Kent County with the age group of individuals between 20-29 accounting for the highest percentage of positive cases.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on April 9 that the response to the largest surge in the nation will not include rolling back the recently relaxed protocols being linked to some of the outbreaks across the state. Instead of placing restrictions on gatherings or businesses in the state once again, Whitmer explained that she encourages a two-week voluntary pause for high-risk businesses and will be relying on the common sense of Michiganders to stop the spread by adhering to the safety protocols that have been established over the past year.
“Stay vigilant with your COVID protocols friends,” Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink stated in an email to staff. “We’ve been in this pandemic for over a year and it’s easy to be tired of it or to let your guard down.”
The email stressed the importance of adhering to safety measures and noted that a minor campus protocol has been updated to reflect this rapid rise in cases. Those who have had a high-risk exposure to the virus will now have to extend their quarantine to 14 days, rather than the previously recommended 10.
As the winter semester comes to an end, reported cases within the GRCC community have also been on the rise. There have been 16 confirmed cases between April 4-11, with 13 being students and three among staff. This semester totals 45 reported cases on campus with just over two weeks left in the session. The neighboring college campus of Grand Valley State University currently has 153 reported active cases over the last 10 days.
No changes have been announced regarding the in-person graduation ceremonies planned for April 30 and May 1, nor to the current on-campus presence outlined in the college’s phase 4.2 of the reopening process.
“College leaders are closely monitoring the situation regarding COVID in West Michigan,” GRCC Communications Director Dave Murry wrote in an email to the Collegiate. “We’re working closely with our state and local health authorities and following guidelines and can respond to changes if needed. Health and safety remain our top priority. The plans in place (for graduation) now call for four ceremonies to ensure social distancing, and we’ll be following additional health protocols. Plans also include live-streaming each of the commencement ceremonies.”