December 3, 2020

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This week

The county blew past its last two-week record of new Covid cases, but take heart the daily infection rate is down, a sign that the Governor's "Pause to save lives" is having some effect. Other hopeful signs can be seen on the horizon: construction has begun on a new campus high rise, and a boutique bicycle shop expands into a historic building on the Northside.  

Remember to show your love to beleaguered shops, restaurants and nonprofits this holiday season. Our rich community of artisans makes shopping a delight. Check out the many virtual and in-person artist shows and sales in our events listing this week. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

The county saw a record 2,121 new cases of Covid-19 from November 11 to November 24, with thirteen deaths reported from November 14 to December 2. But Governor Whitmer’s “Pause to save lives” seems to be helping: new infections and hospitalizations both retreated from their recent peaks this week, with 148 new cases and ten hospitalizations reported on December 2although the effect of Thanksgiving dinners remains to be seen. 

Despite national media reports of a crisis in Covid beds and medical staff, both University Hospital and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital report that they have adequate staff and space. “Our teams at the various hospitals have been planning for the second wave for a long time,” emails St. Joe’s Bobby Maldonado, “and can flex up or down as needed.” 

Michigan Medicine tightens restrictions on visitors. To keep patients and staff safe from Covid-19, adult patients may only have visitors for end-of-life care, labor and delivery, and other scenarios listed here. Pediatric patients may still be visited by their primary care providers (for instance, Mom and Dad). 

Covid-19 test results are coming back faster. Tests by hospitals and public health departments are reporting in an average of two days in Michigan, while commercial tests are taking an average of three days—greatly improved from delays of several weeks over the summer. State labs have processed close to one million tests in the past two weeks. Click here to locate testing sites by zip code. 

Michigan may receive hundreds of thousands of doses of Covid-19 vaccines by mid-December. Pending emergency-use approval, Henry Ford Hospital could get the Pfizer vaccine as soon as December 12, and the Moderna vaccine could be available for distribution by early January. Michigan Radio

Construction has begun on another campus high rise. The 130-unit Vic Village South was approved more than a year ago, and cleared out most of the businesses between Church St. and East University soon afterward. Like all student-targeted projects it faced uncertainty during the pandemic, but now it’s moving forward: on Monday, the eastbound lane of South U was closed for an estimated thirty-month construction period.

Gelman plume spreads through Ann Arbor groundwater carrying dioxane into the Allen Creek drain in the West Park area. Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner Evan Pratt believes polluter Gelman Sciences is violating a consent judgement and may put local homeowners at risk. If high precipitation causes water to leach into West Park area basements, the City will test those basements for dioxane. Mlive 

AADL will resume contactless pickup on December 9. MeLCat borrowing is suspended for December and Shelf Service is on hold until further notice. Twenty-four hour, high-speed wifi access points are being installed this month in the parking lots at Malletts Creek, Westgate, Traverwood, and Pittsfield branches. No login required.

Since the pandemic hit in March, local nonprofits have been in crisis mode, struggling to meet escalating needs with shrinking budgets. “I fluctuate between optimism and feeling crushed. I'm sure other nonprofits are on the brink of disaster," says Mel Drumm, of the Hands-On Museum. See the Observer’s December feature, “Giving in the Time of Covid,” by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds. 

Image courtesy of Sic Transit Cycles.


North side bike shop Sic Transit Cycles gets some much needed breathing room as it expands into the former St. Vincent de Paul shop.  But customers hoping to give bikes as holiday gifts beware- orders placed now won’t be filled for six months or more.  Owner Michael Firn talks about how the pandemic has led to both record sales and customer frustration. The Observer’s Trilby MacDonald has our story

Lala’s popup diner located in the former Standard Bistro is expanding to offer takeout dinners on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Customers can order buffalo shrimp tacos, ricotta gnocchi and more Wednesdays through Sundays, 4–8 p.m., for curbside and delivery. Visit their Facebook page for details. 

Ypsi’s handsome new restaurant Bellflower soothes and delights a world-weary diner, offering a needed respite from troubled times. The Observer’s Lee Lawrence has our review. 


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Watch Pioneer High School Students perform eight short virtually staged “Plays at Home” (7:30 p.m.) directed by Pioneer High students and written by contemporary playwrights. Program features Josie Seid's A Wing and a Prayer, in which a fairy godmother is accidentally summoned by four women planning to attend a feminist lecture, Madeline Sayet's Pets Need Privacy Too, which takes the perspective of a dog who never gets alone time, and more. Free online at Pioneer High School Theatre Guild.

Saturday: Visit local artist shows and sales, including the Art Sale at The Valley Barn (10 a.m.–7 p.m., 7650 Scio Church Rd.; for “remote shopping” by appointment via Facetime and Zoom, call 734-678–2750), Kate Tremel & Friends 14th Annual Holiday studio sale (noon–4 p.m., online only at, York Food & Drink’s “Winter Art Market” (10 a.m.–7 p.m., 1928 Packard), Sweetwaters Plymouth Green’s “Artist Pop-Up” (8 a.m.–6 p.m., 3393 Plymouth Rd.), and the Guild of Artists and Artisans’ “Holiday Artist Market” (11 a.m.–7 p.m., Gutman Gallery, 118 N. 4th Ave.). Masks required at all in-person shows. 

Sunday: Take a walk in County Farm Park and learn about how local wildlife survives in colder temperatures (2–3:30 p.m.) with a Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission naturalist and nine other people (capacity limited). Free, but preregistration required for all age 2 & up (search activity #821002). WCPARC

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

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