February 11, 2021

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This week

The headlines are often less than encouraging, but the businesses, institutions, and individuals that make our community great continue to meet the challenges with grace and grit. U-M's Worker's Rights Clinic has seen calls for legal help go up seven-fold in a year, and a small group of friends in Chelsea created a giving circle that expanded ten-fold in the same time period.  

Restaurant Week begins on the 21st, and Hotel Week makes its debut. On Valentine's Day I'm going to eat out and spend the night in a downtown hotel because, why not? 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Covid-19 Updates

On Wednesday morning, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported forty-eight new infections, four hospitalizations, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. The positivity remains low at 3.3 percent.

Want to get tested? Ann Arbor startup LynxDx offers contactless, saliva-based drive-thru testing in the 242 Community Church parking lot on 648 S Wagner Rd. The service is offered in partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department and is open to all community members with or without insurance.

Frustration rises as demand for vaccination continues to outstrip supply. Health department spokesperson Susan Ringler-Cerniglia explains that the department receives 2,000 to 3,000 doses every week. About half are used for second doses. Two thirds of the second half go to older adults, and the remaining third are divided among healthcare workers, adults sixty-five and over, and a subset of essential workers which includes school employees, first responders who weren't already vaccinated, and essential staff like jail and juvenile detention workers. 

The News...briefly

"Since the pandemic began, life here in America has not been the same," a U-M grad student from China says. The Trump administration's restrictions on immigration were already making the lives of the university’s 6,500 international students more difficult when the pandemic took it to a whole new level.

In the last decade, road accidents injured 736 bicyclists and killed twelve in Washtenaw County. Last June, Emy Deshotel nearly became the thirteenth. She shares her story in ”Staying Alive” in the February Observer. 

Supporters of school reopening ramped up pressure on the AAPS to resume in-person classes, with psychologists joining physicians in calling for a March 1 return. Trustee Jeff Gaynor thinks that “school staff having the opportunity to be immunized will be the key factor” in re-opening, but meanwhile, contact sports have resumed with precautions, and the nearly 400 professionals who have signed the open letter and petition assert that in-person instruction can be done safely even before teachers are vaccinated. Ironically, the county’s robust health system has been an obstacle to quick teacher vaccinations. The Observer’s Trilby MacDonald and John Hilton have our story. 

Spreading the love

Even before Covid-19 crashed Michigan’s unemployment compensation system, a computer review wrongly tagged tens of thousands of applications as fraudulent. Since the pandemic, more applicants have struggled to prove that they’re out of work for health-related reasons. That’s meant more calls to the U-M Workers’ Rights Clinic, which helps workers with claims and other employment-related legal issues. The center used to get about fifteen calls and emails a week. Since the onset of the pandemic, that number has jumped to more than 100. U-M News 

Chelsea’s giving circle keeps growing. Membership in the 100 Women Who Care-Chelsea Area has grown dramatically since it was founded late last year. Members meet three times a year, with each pledging a donation of $100. They hear pitches from nominated charities, then vote on which one to fund. At their February Zoom meeting, they gave a $9,700 Impact Award to the St. Louis Center for Exceptional Children and Adults. 

For Valentine's Day Cahoots Cafe will have a themed drink and will be selling flower bouquets to pick up (from Wildscape Floral Co).  Photo courtesy of Cahoots Cafe. 

Marketplace Changes

Celebrate Valentine’s Day downtown! Main St. retailers, restaurants, and hotels are offering a host of lovely specials to warm your heart and tingle your senses. You could take your lover on a romantic overnight getaway at the Residence Inn, including dinner, champagne, and chocolates, or pick up a Cupid’s Craft Kit from Rock Paper Scissors.

Lift your spirits and take your tastebuds for a twirl during Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week, Feb. 21-26. This year’s event includes new twists like family to-go meals, food and drink demos, and multi-course dine-in service featuring daring dishes not found on the regular menu. Restaurant Week coincides with the new Hotel Week, where fantastic deals can be found at dozens of hotels, including discounts, gift cards to local restaurants, and free upgrades. 

From bowls to seafood. Jenny Wu and her husband, Jin Huang, have reinvented their Carpenter Rd. restaurant Naked Burrito as JJ Crab House. "Asian people love seafood, and I know Americans love seafood,” Wu laughs. “The Red Lobster is always busy down the street.” The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

Ask a2view

Test the sleuthing skills of Observer staff by sending us out on fact finding missions about quirky, insider, local anything. No issue is too esoteric, and there are no stupid questions. Email and fire away!

“Do any of you know if Casey's is ever going to open again?” writes a reader who is missing her favorite Ann Arbor haunt. “They had posted a note that they were waiting until construction at the intersection at Glen was done, but there has been no news.” 

Casey’s had hoped to re-open last summer, with outdoor seating for the first time ever, says Casey’s general manager Paul Thomas. But street construction scuttled that plan, and by the time it was done last fall, “the writing was on the wall regarding Covid, so we decided to wait. Our plan is to reopen in springtime, when we can have outdoor seating.”

Things to Do 

By Ella Bourland

Thursday: Tune in to hear University of Texas-Austin engineering professor Moriba Jan discuss “Traffic in Near-Earth Space: A Wicked Problem of A Complex System Requiring A Transdisciplinary Solution” (4–5:15 p.m.), followed by a Q&A. Jan studies and predicts the motion of objects in space, and recently gave a TED talk on his initial solution to track space traffic, ASTRIAGraph. Free, online at U-M Aerospace Engineering Distinguished Lecture.

Friday: See (in-person) frank but fun presentations with live animals on methods of seduction and reproduction in the animal kingdom, featuring black swans, kangaroo, Burmese python, and more (Friday & Saturday, 7–9 p.m.). For adults only; masks required. Tickets $35 in advance only at The Creature Conservancy. 4940 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd., 929–9324. 

Saturday: Mainstreet Ventures executive chef Brent Courson gives an online demo on how to make a four-course meal in the “Quarantine Edition” of Cancer Support Community’s fundraiser (6 p.m.). Viewers are encouraged to follow along at home using ingredients available for curbside pickup as Courson prepares crostini di Burrata, a curry squash bisque, a meat (chicken saltimbocca) or vegetarian (lemon sage cauliflower steak) entrée, and macaroons. Tickets $150 per person (for two, $275), includes a signature “Flavor of Hope” cocktail and Ketcham Estate Vineyard’s 2017 pinot noir; “virtual tables” available for households. Online at Cancer Support Community “Flavors of Hope” Fundraiser. 

Sunday: In celebration of romance, the veteran Chelsea-based wife-and-husband folk-rock duo Annie & Rod Capps host other Michigan musical couples in the program “My Folky Valentine” (7:30 p.m.). With local bluesy Americana roots-rock singer-songwriter duo Jenn Cass & Eric Janetsky, and Lansing duo Andy & Julianna Wilson, who play a variety of songs from vaudeville and swing-era standards to more recent pop. Free, but donations welcome, online at the Ark Facebook.

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

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