GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids has dropped its rental price for serving as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site from $12,000 per day to zero.
Kent County will now have to pay only for operational costs like utilities, janitorial and maintenance services, security and emergency medical services, as those services are used.
The county announced Friday it had reached an updated agreement with the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and SMG/ASM Global, the company that operates DeVos Place. The new contract is retroactive to Jan. 18 and will extend through March 31, after which officials will decide how to move forward on a month-to-month basis.
“The intent all along was for us to get it right in the beginning, but we did do exactly what we said we were going to do, which is to put something on the table that the community, the commissioners would be happy about,” Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt told News 8 Friday.
Britt previously told News 8 that the $12,000-per-day price tag, which was being covered by federal CARES Act money, was “a very minimal expense” considering the positive effects of combating the pandemic that has devastated businesses and now contributed to the deaths of more than 15,000 people in Michigan.
After the contract became public, there was a lot of public scrutiny, which Britt said also came from county commissioners.
“They felt the facility that we were paying bonds on, of course, why should we have to pay rent, too, when it’s not being used? So it made a lot of sense,” Britt explained. “We don’t want to be accused of being too slow, sluggish and not doing what we got to do to protect this community. So when I think about that, I think it was good that we worked with our partners. We came together quickly and did the right thing and then we worked out how it was going to be paid for in an equitable way.”
Since the DeVos Place clinic opened late last month, about 13,000 doses have been administered there. Once supply can keep pace with demand, the Kent County Health Department and its hospital partners running the clinic say they could administer up to 20,000 doses per day.
For now, however, appointments are still limited. You can start the registration process to get your shots at VaccinateWestMI.com.
The county is looking for non-medical volunteers to help staff the clinic, doing things like greeting and helping patients, sanitizing and organizing supplies and taking temperatures. Those who work at least 20 hours at the clinic will be reclassified as health care volunteers and will be eligible to get vaccinated themselves.
So far, across the state, 2,043,650 doses of the vaccine have been shipped to health departments, hospitals and nursing homes. A total of 425,823 people have been fully vaccinated with two shots and about 1.02 million people have gotten only their first shot.
The state is aiming to vaccinate some 5.6 million people.