April 29, 2021

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This week

Case rates are going down, and it's easier to get a shot now than ever.  But some of my younger friends are hesitating. 

As bad as this past year has been, it's got nothing on the 1918 flu. Margaret Engle contributes a story about her grandfather's experience living through it in Petoskey. 

Arbor Day is tomorrow, and the city celebrates with a free tree giveaway. But you may want to wait to plant hardwoods until the dreaded Brood X cicadas have passed. 

Schools are slowly reopening. But after longing for in-person instruction all year, my Kindergartener now wishes she were back online. She has all of her classes at her desk, with no art, no gym, and no fun, she says. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Covid-19 Updates

Washtenaw County is heading in the right direction. On Wednesday morning, there were seventy-one new confirmed cases, nine hospitalizations, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. The weekly positivity rate has dropped almost by half, to 3.7 percent. 

Want to get vaccinated ASAP? GoodRx and Michigan Vaccine Spotter can tell you where and when vaccine appointments are available. On Wednesday, both the Walgreens on Jackson Rd. and the Costco on Airport Blvd. were offering next-day appointments, and the County Health Department had a list of half a dozen vaccine sites currently offering appointments, including some accepting walk-ins.

U-M requires vaccinations for all students living in residence halls. Public health dean Dubois Bowman told the Michigan Daily that communal living spaces are particularly susceptible to spread of the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant. “Vaccination is a key prevention tool to be used in this space,” he said. 

The pandemic delays in-person classes for Ypsilanti Community Schools. A spike in cases and exposures among transportation staff means that preK and grades 6-12 will have to wait until May 10. Elementary students will continue to receive in-person instruction. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

This isn’t the first time that Michigan has faced “fear, isolation, the anxiety about an invisible threat and unknown future.” In ”My Grandfather’s Pandemic,” Margaret Engle traces the similarities between Covid-19 and the struggle to contain the 1918 flu in Petoskey. 

The News...briefly

Can Ann Arbor hike water rates now to pay for future upgrades? Royal Oak attorney Greg Hanley says that violates “principles of intergenerational equity.” The City should borrow money for infrastructure projects through municipal bonds, Hanley argues. He is seeking class action status for his plaintiffs' lawsuit, which mayor Christopher Taylor says "could gut vital infrastructure and cost Ann Arbor millions of dollars." The Observer’s Jim Leonard has our story. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools grades 4-12 begin hybrid instruction on Monday. AAPS is encouraging students sixteen and older to get vaccinated and is holding a vaccine clinic at Huron High School for students and their families today April 29 from 4-7 p.m. 

One in ten U-M freshmen in 2019 came from just ten high schools, a Michigan Daily study found. Oakland County’s International Baccalaureate magnet topped the list, enrolling 118 grads. Pioneer (seventy-eight) and Huron (sixty-seven) also made the list, but Detroit Country Day, Cranbrook, and the Bronx High School of Science edged Skyline out of the top ten—with forty-three grads enrolled, it came in twelfth.

U-M women’s field hockey cruises to the NCAA championships this weekend for the sixth straight year. The No. 2 seed Wolverines (13-2) shut down Ohio State 4-0 on Sunday, winning its tenth game in a row. They head to Pennsylvania to play the winner of the VCU (9-0) and Bucknell (5-3) game in the quarterfinals at noon on Sunday at the PSU Field Hockey Complex. Go Blue

EMU hires one of its own as men’s basketball coach. Stan Heath was a star player for EMU from 1985-87 and has coached college basketball for thirteen years, taking his teams to the NCAA Tournament four times. Click on Detroit 

U-M Nursing will install “Recharge Rooms” for healthcare workers and students. Two couples’ $100K gift will fund “immersive experience” rooms in the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, Med Inn, and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital with abundant greenery, low light, wall projections, and soothing sounds. If researchers find evidence they’re “increasing resiliency, reducing stress and improving emotional and mental health,” the rooms may become permanent after the pandemic regresses. Michigan Medicine 

City of Ann Arbor tree giveaway. In honor of Arbor day tomorrow, April 30, and through the weekend, the city will be giving away free trees for residents to plant on private property. The giveaway is part of a larger initiative to plant 10,000 trees by 2030 as part of the city’s A2Zero carbon neutrality plan. This year, only conifers will be offered because they are more resilient against Brood X cicadas which will begin to emerge in May. A2gov

Ann Arbor Community High School student Josh Moss was burnt out. He had always found solace in playing piano, but the pressures of performing for school had made music a chore. When the pandemic forced the first district-wide school closures, Moss was overjoyed. He was able to slow down and listen more deeply, both to his music and to his friends. The Communicator’s Tai Tworek has the story. 

Marketplace Changes

Chefs in motion. From taquitos to Thai dumplings, pop-ups add flavor to the local dining scene. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

“It was a bad time to start a restaurant,” laughs Tiffany Kim, who recently took over Nagomi Sushi Downtown from her cousin Nick Ma. Kim has redubbed the restaurant Kanbu Sushi Downtown and spruced up the logo and added things like sushi burritos, poke bowls, and build-your-own rolls to the menu. Business is picking up, and Kim has more plans underway in the neighborhood. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

Ten iconic Ann Arbor and Ypsi businesses are featured in videos about keeping customers safe during the pandemic. Dave Lorenz of  Pure Michigan and Tom Daldin of PBS’s Under the Radar Michigan spoke with everyone from Zingerman’s Ari Weinzweig to Jen Estridge of Ypsi’s Unicorn Feed and Supply, who offers in-person shopping and “Unicorn Shop Calls” via Facetime “for people that aren’t ready to go out yet but are still wanting to have those magical shopping experiences.” Destination Ann Arbor

Who Needs Ya?

India is in the midst of a horrific surge in new Covid cases, with both hospitals and crematoria overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster. The U-M Indian Student Association is joining eight other schools in a GoFundMe campaign to support Indian nonprofits providing everything from data analytics for policy-makers to urgently needed oxygen supplies for caregivers on the ground. 

"Landscape - Beach Sunset" by Susan Hamady. Watercolor, acryllic. 
Ann Arbor artist Susan Hamady will have a pop-up at the Gutman Gallery, 118 N. 4th Ave. this Saturday, May 1 from 11am-5pm. 

Things to Do 

By Ella Bourland

29 Thursday: Listen to local drummer Pete Siers and legendary local jazz patron Don Chisholm discuss and play music reflecting Chisholm's passion and support for jazz venues and musicians. 5:30 p.m. Free, but donations accepted, online at Kerrytown Concert House Live @ The 415.

30 Friday: Stream two one-act comic operas, Trial by Jury and Cox and Box, by the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Trial by Jury (1875), W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's earliest surviving collaboration. The plot, lampooning a breach-of-promise trial, is one of Gilbert's zaniest and most biting satires. Subtitled A Dramatic Cantata in One Act, it contains not a word of spoken dialogue, but its score features some of Sullivan's operatic parodies, including a marvelous spoof of Handel. Cox and Box (1866) is a musical adaptation of John Maddison Morton's immensely popular Victorian farce about a conniving landlord who rents an apartment to two different tenants, one who works days and one who works nights—and both of whom are also unwittingly engaged to the same woman. Although it formed part of the D'Oyly Carte Company's regular repertoire, F. C. Burnham, wrote the script to go with a Sullivan score that sparkles with an exuberance and freshness evocative of English music halls. On-demand viewing starts at noon April 30 and is available for twelve hours after you start watching. Tickets $12 (students & seniors, $10; household of 4 or less, $15; viewing group of 4 or more, $20). Online at U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society. 

1 Saturday: Visit the local School of Rock to see performances by adult and student rock bands in their “Arena Rock Seasonal Show.” Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Noon, School of Rock Ann Arbor lawn, 6101 Jackson Rd. Free. Observer

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events.

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