April 8, 2021

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This week

Covid cases reach numbers not seen since the height of the pandemic in November. I'm going to Ohio for my shot next week. 

City council works to increase Ann Arbor's housing stock and helps returning citizens find rentals by banning landlords from checking criminal histories. 

Our intrepid calendar editor Ella Bourland compiled a fat list of things to do this weekend. My kids and I will bring our Glow Buddy from the Ann Arbor Art Center to the FoolMoon Stroll and Roll tomorrow night. We're looking forward to going out and about in style. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Covid-19 Updates

On Wednesday morning, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported 222 new infections, fourteen hospitalizations, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. Last week’s positivity edged up to 3.8 percent.

As of Wednesday evening, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital had ninety Covid patients, eight in intensive care, and was at ninety-nine percent of its Covid bed capacity. U-M had seventy-seven Covid patients, seventeen in intensive care, and was at eighty percent of capacity.

Michigan opens vaccine eligibility to everyone sixteen and over. Pharmacies, hospitals, and health departments are posting new appointments online, and have numbers to call. Click On Detroit

As of Tuesday, 43.2 percent of county residents over 16 have been vaccinated, putting us on track to exceed our goal of vaccinating seventy percent of the county by the end of the year.

U-M begins vaccinating students. Over the next two weeks, 7,500 U-M students will be given the single dose Johnson & Johnson/Jannsen vaccine at clinics on the Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn campuses. Vaccines are by appointment only. University Record. Visit Maize and Blueprint to register. 

The News...briefly

Ann Arbor plans to create an unarmed crisis response team. On Monday, city council voted unanimously to direct city administrator Tom Crawford to work with the county sheriff’s office to develop plans for a program that would deploy mental health professionals and social service experts to respond to 911 calls that don’t involve suspected criminal activity or imminent danger to others. MLive

Landlords banned from ordering criminal background checks. To prevent discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, city council voted unanimously on Monday to ban criminal background checks for renters as part of the new Fair Chance Access Housing ordinance. MLive

Ann Arbor City Council’s activist majority is blazing ahead with plans to expand the city’s housing stock. New affordable housing projects are planned for downtown parking lots, homeowners could build accessory dwelling units to create additional housing in single-family neighborhoods, and a transit-oriented zoning ordinance would promote development along busy corridors. The Observer’s James Leonard has our story. 

Former Sidetrack Bar & Grill employees file lawsuit. The suit accuses sidetrack management of illegal labor practices such as pooling tips and making employees work off the clock. “We will absolutely look forward to fighting this in court, ” said Sidetrack owner Linda French. Detroit Free Press

Eastern Michigan University plans a “more traditional” fall semester. Small classes will meet in-person, and students will find a new engineering and technology campus, renovated recreation center, in-person athletics events, and discounted single rooms in residence halls. EMU

Three women stabbed in Ann Arbor hotel. Madron Aldonijah was arrested and arraigned for allegedly stabbing three women at 1:30 a.m. Sunday at Sonesta Suites. Drugs and an argument over money played a role in the stabbing, police said. Anyone with information should call Detective Renee Bondy at 734-794-6930 extension 49329, or email at

Billions of cicadas will soon emerge after seventeen years sucking sap underground. They’ll shed their skins, unfurl new wings, and fill the summer sky with the raucous sound of buzz saws on holiday. In the span of a few weeks the cicadas will mate, lay eggs in tree branches, and die. Cicada grubs later hatch and rain to the ground where they’ll burrow and remain for another seventeen years. The Parks Dept. will postpone spring tree planting until after the cicadas have passed.

U-M Museum of Natural History launches a 3-D digital gallery exploring how whales came to be. “Whale Evolution: From Land to Sea” delves into the peculiar evolutionary genius of whales on a virtual platform that viewers can navigate like a videogame. U-M Museum of Natural History

Environmental Protection Agency awards a $100,000 small business innovation research award to Purafide, LLC, an Ann Arbor company, to develop a Plasma Water Reactor to remove PFAS from drinking water. EPA

The Love Train is helping the Humane Society of Huron Valley power through the pandemic. Twice a month, HSHV staff and volunteers bring abandoned pets from overflowing shelters in Southern states up to Michigan where they are quickly adopted. Even elderly cats don’t stay in shelter for long. The Observer’s James Leonard has our story

Is the U-M’s Griffin Mazur “the best catcher in college baseball”? U-M pitcher Joe Pace says there’s no doubt about it. The Michigan Daily’s Jack Whitten writes that a reprieve for spring athletes who lost their seasons last year gave Mazur a fresh start at Michigan, where he’s batting .492 and getting attention from major-league scouts. 

Who Needs Ya?

The Ujala Foundation will be distributing food on Sunday in preparation for Ramadan. Observant Muslims fast during daylight hours throughout he Islamic holy month, which begins on Monday. The foundation expects more than 150 families, many of them refugees, will receive halal staples and fresh fruit and vegetables from Food Gatherers from 1-3 p.m. at Ypsilanti’s Masjid Ibrahim, 315 S. Ford Blvd, Ypsilanti. For questions or to make a donation, email

Marketplace Changes

After 120 years, the Michigan Ladder Company on 12 E. Forest Ave in Ypsilanti has gone out of business, another casualty of Covid-19. The last factory in the U.S. that made wood ladders was forced to close because of economic shutdowns and subsequent supply chain issues. “Much of the nation has been built on the steps of Michigan ladders,” reads its website. For a full history, visit:

Ask a2view

While driving downtown, Observer editor John Hilton observed a strange sight. "It looks as though Allen Creek is being pumped out of a manhole at Ashley and Jefferson and piped to another at First and Liberty. Really? And if so, why?" 

“[T]he description couldn’t be more wrong,” emails city public services spokesperson Robert Kellar. “We are bypass pumping from one part of the sanitary system to another while we are lining a segment of the sewer.”

FoolMoon goes forward with a safe Stroll and Roll event tomorrow. This image by Myra Klarman captures the spirit of the parade in 2019. 

Things to Do 

By Ella Bourland

Thursday: Watch András Schiff, one of the best pianists of his generation, in the University Musical Society’s digital presentation, prerecorded at the Church of St. Peter in Zurich, Switzerland (7:30 p.m.). Schiff is known for a polished style that teases out musical details other pianists miss. "Among current piano titans, Sir András Schiff is the Zen master," says a San Jose Mercury News review. "He is both utterly relaxed and absolutely awake…Listening to Schiff play is like looking into a running stream and seeing all the colorful, round pebbles beneath the water." Program: Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue and Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor and No. 26 in E-flat major, and Schumann's Arabeske in C major. Available online for free on-demand viewing anytime from 7:30 p.m. April 8 through April 18 at UMS. 

Friday: Participate in “FoolMoon Stroll + Roll” (6-10 p.m.), the pandemic-edition of Wonderfool Productions’s annual festival which features a vast array of huge, quirky, and beautiful handmade illuminated sculptures. Many Kerrytown, Main St., and State St. merchants are open late tonight with special sales, and their online FoolMoon TV offers local entertainment by teens involved in the Neutral Zone, including poetry readings, dance, comedy and more. Free. For an area map, see Wonderfool Productions FoolMoon. 

Listen to celebrated jazz trumpet virtuoso & bandleader Wynton Marsalis and University Musical Society president emeritus Ken Fischer discuss Fischer’s new book, Everybody in, Nobody Out, about community connection through the performing arts (8 p.m.).  Moderated by Association of Performing Arts Professionals CEO Lisa Richards Toney. Free online at U-M Penny Stamps Speaker Series and Detroit Public TV.

Saturday: Attend a show and sale of a variety of yarns, rug hooking kits, felted items, roving, and fiber art and craft products (9 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sat.) & 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sun.). Various classes offered. Also, breeders on hand with alpacas and Angora rabbits. No dogs allowed, except service dogs. Masks required; capacity reduced. Tickets $4 ($6 for both days; kids age 12 & under, free); cash only. Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. Fiber Expo 

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

Correction: Last week, we mistakenly wrote that the Ann Arbor Summer Festival would be “100 percent virtual” this year. The linked article from the April Observer had it right: while the ticketed events at Power Center and free Top of the Park events are canceled, the festival is offering both paid and free pop-up concerts in outdoor spaces. Artists and times will be posted in May on the A2SF website.

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