Washtenaw County reported thirty-seven cases of Covid-19, two hospitalizations, and three deaths in the 24 hours ending yesterday at 10 a.m. Deaths remain high, with the toll since the pandemic began approaching 500—but new cases are just one-tenth of what we noted a month ago. The weekly test positivity rate slid again to 3.7 percent, below the statewide rate of 6 percent.
Last week’s updated CDC guidelines classify the county’s Covid level as “medium,” meaning that “masking in indoor public settings is no longer broadly recommended,” according to the Washtenaw County Health Department’s Covid update page. WCHD spokeswoman Susan Ringler-Cerniglia cautions that this doesn’t mean “an end to the pandemic or to related recommendations. Should we see another significant variant or additional spring wave, the shift to ‘high’ would signal a return to indoor masking … [and] there is a clear recommendation to take precautions that increase protection for more vulnerable populations and high-risk individuals.”
At yesterday’s school board meeting—a continuation of one suspended last week after some attendees refused to wear masks—superintendent Jeanice Swift announced that the Ann Arbor Public Schools will “continue with universal masking” as part of a “balanced and cautious approach” to maintain its commitment to in-person classes. The district is looking for a “sustained and continued decline” in case levels, Swift said, before reassessing the mandate.
Community members turned out in solidarity with Ukraine this week, the Michigan Daily reports. The anti-war vigil on the Diag was attended by more than 100 people, with speeches by mayor Christopher Taylor, congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and others. The Washington Post has compiled a list of organizations that are helping people harmed by the war.
Rackham Graduate School will discontinue GRE testing requirements for all Ph.D. programs, the Michigan Daily reports. The decision was made in hopes of making the admissions process more holistic, and is part of a broader trend in recent years that has seen other universities move away from standardized tests.
“Un-zoning” is on the table for properties around Briarwood Mall, Paula Gardner writes in Bridge magazine. The mall’s owner has floated a plan for replacing the vacant Sears store, and the proposed rezoning would encourage the type of dense, mixed use development typical of a downtown in nearby commercial areas.
Mayor Taylor is a “pal” of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, he revealed on Facebook. The two clerked together for federal appellate Judge Bruce Selya in the ‘90s, and Taylor writes that “America will be in good and just hands” if Jackson is confirmed.
County officials are warning about misleading postcards sent to some residents. The mailer claims to be a “Home Warranty Replacement” notice related to “county deed records” but is in fact a marketing ploy by an out-of-state company, and should be considered a potential scam.
Police chiefs in both Saline and Chelsea have departed recently, MLive reports. Chief Jerrod Hart of Saline is leaving tomorrow after four years of service to take an unspecified “new opportunity.” Chelsea Chief Edward Toth is retiring after heading the department since 2006. He will leave his position in August, giving officials six months to find a replacement.
An Ann Arbor man was arrested for allegedly soliciting nude photos of a minor online, MLive reports. Charges include one felony count each of accosting a child for immoral purposes, child sexually abusive activity, and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. Authorities recommend parents talk to their children about safe internet usage and report tips on child sexual expoloitation at missingkids.org.
The Cooperative Orchard of Ypsilanti (COrY) is changing leadership to better reflect the community, Concentrate reports. The new president and VP, Noah Rucker and Gary Bey, are the founders of the gardening organization Kingdom Builders. The orchard, which got its start in 2011, has three lines of fruit trees and runs a number of community programs.
A bit of roadside Americana on Carpenter will be the bucolic setting of a new 121-unit apartment building, Tim Athan reports in the March Observer. The developer submitted several plans to Pittsfield Township, but the one ultimately accepted preserves most of the trees and wetlands that surrounded four miniature log cabins inspired by tourist cabins Up North.