NEWS RELEASE: GVSU's Staying Safe order will be lifted - Ottawa County health officer issues Staying Strong letter

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October 16, 2020

NEWS RELEASE: GVSU's Staying Safe order will be lifted at midnight - Ottawa County health officer issues "Staying Strong" letter

Media Contacts
Kristina Wieghmink, OCDPH Public Information Officer I mobile/text 616-510-8523
Dottie Barnes, GVSU Associate Director of News I office 616-331-2953

GVSU Hotline for COVID-19 Questions: 616-331-INFO
Spectrum Health GVSU COVID-19 Testing Questions: 833-734-0020

COVID-19 Testing Sites throughout Ottawa County: English I Spanish

With the GVSU Staying Safe order lifting at midnight, public health officials are urging students and the community to stay strong.

Ottawa County, Mich. – On September 17, 2020, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) issued a “Staying in Place” order for GVSU students living in on-campus and off-campus housing in Allendale Township to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order was in effect until October 1, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Given a steady decline of positive COVID-19 cases, the "Staying in Place" order was lifted followed by a "Staying Safe" order. This order will expire today, October 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Epidemiological data monitored by public health officials and GVSU administrative leadership indicate a continual improvement to slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the GVSU community. The OCDPH is encouraging the GVSU and Ottawa County communities to stay strong and stay the course to further help slow the spread of COVID-19.

OCDPH Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky issued the following letter to GVSU's President Mantella, Administration, Faculty, Staff and Students: 

This letter is to inform you that the Ottawa County Department of Public Health “Staying Safe” order issued to the Grand Valley State University student community in the Allendale area and on campus for October 2, 2020 to October 16, 2020 has been lifted.

I want to further acknowledge and commend the GVSU Leadership, Faculty, Staff and Students for their commitment to public health and safety, not only for the benefit of the Grand Valley population but also for the greater community. During the previous four weeks, under two consecutive public health orders, GVSU went from accounting for 77% of all Ottawa County COVID‐19 cases down to just 4% for the week ending October 10. This significant drop could only be realized through respect for and adherence to the public health orders and strict environmental prevention measures that GVSU and the off‐campus housing community put in place to protect residents, workers and students.

We fully understand that the required actions were challenging for all involved and I want to share my sincere appreciation for everyone doing their part. GVSU students have experienced a public health emergency and have responded to it with intelligence, integrity and adaptability. By embracing this challenge and adhering to the provisions in the orders and the protocols of GVSU’s Administration, they have proved their civic responsibility and you and your team have demonstrated great leadership.

I now encourage a "Staying Strong" approach to keeping our community safe from COVID‐19. As cases continue to rise in the greater community, it is not time to relax any of the strong preventive approaches that have been put in place. Stay strong on your efforts to continue testing, wearing face coverings, distancing and hand washing. The past four weeks have proven that these measures work! Lakers working together can stay strong and stay healthy.

Again, thank you and your entire COVID 19 response team for working collaboratively with our department and for sharing your expertise in crafting mitigation efforts that were effective in reaching our common goal. As I am sure you know, you have a great staff that reflects the best characteristics of the people of Ottawa County.


Lisa Stefanovsky
Administrative Health Officer

GVSU President Mantella's response:

“I appreciate our solid partnership with the county health department and the drop in positive COVID-19 test results we’re seeing in the campus community,” said GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella. “I’m so proud of our community and want to thank everyone for taking this public health crisis seriously and following the guidelines. We know we must remain vigilant to do our best to keep the virus from spreading. Our community is well informed, and we will keep all of the university preventive approaches in place.”

WATCH a video from President Mantella and GVSU Lakers Together

The OCDPH is asking everyone to please continue with the disease prevention measures of maintaining physical distance from others, wearing a face covering and practicing exceptional hygiene. The GVSU community has shown that these methods work. Additionally, it is important for people who test positive to work together with public health on slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Learn more on what to expect if you test positive for COVID-19  I  Infographic


The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. There is currently no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment for this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person, including between people who are physically near each other (within about 6 feet). People who are infected but do not show symptoms can also spread the virus to others. Scientists are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.

GVSU Dashboard I OCDPH Dashboard I COVID-19 Factsheet