June 3, 2021

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This week

It's been a YEAR! a2view turns one today, and I could not have imagined when we started that a we'd still be deep in the pandemic a year later. It's taught me so much about resilience, community, and the value of home—both literally and figuratively!

From volunteer crews making PPE and struggling restaurants giving away food, to virtual fundraisers, virtual classes, and virtual weddings, it's been both strange and inspiring to see how our need for connection and support has brought us together, apart. 

Angie Wolney catches us up on how her family is doing after her essay in our first issue. And we have the lowest number of new confirmed cases of Covid that I can recall. I'm proud of us. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Angie Wolney's happy chicks. Photo courtesy of Angie Wolney. See her story below. 

Covid-19 Updates

As of this morning, there are four confirmed cases, two hospitalizations, and one death in the past twenty-four hours, and the weekly positivity rate is 2.4%.

"A three-quarter sigh of relief!" laughs Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson Susan Ringler-Cerniglia. "Those numbers combined with our really pretty good vaccination rates gives us reasons to be optimistic." However, "People sometimes scoff at the idea of continuing to use precautions," she says, but reminds us that "There’s been virtually no flu—why? Because these things work! And we still need to take care around those folks like younger kids who can’t be vaccinated but can spread the virus,” as well as immunocompromised individuals. 

Ringler-Cerniglia notes that vaccines provide longer and more reliable protection against Covid than antibodies from prior illness, and “can provide protection against variants when natural illness doesn’t.” 

Two-thirds of all county residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, so the Health Department is phasing out mass vaccination clinics. Instead, it's operating walk-in community clinics at fourteen locations, plus a mobile vaccine RV.

The clinic in Chelsea closed on May 25; the one at EMU’s Convocation Center will remain open Wednesdays and Saturdays through June. Michigan Medicine has transitioned vaccination from Michigan Stadium to the North Campus Research Complex as well as multiple offices and providers. IHA also is beginning to offer vaccinations at its pediatric and primary-care clinics. 

To find out where to get vaccinated, call 211 or click here. 

Though the pandemic is receding, patients taking immunosuppressive drugs are at greater risk of severe Covid and potentially lethal fungal infections. Scientific American reports that nearly 12,000 Covid patients in India developed fungal infections after being treated with steroids, and a Michigan Medicine national study found that nearly 3 percent of insured U.S. adults under 65 are taking drugs like steroids and chemotherapy put them at greater risk of severe cases of Covid. They may also "have a slower, weaker response to Covid vaccination, and, in some cases, might not respond at all,” warns lead author Beth Wallace, who urges immunocompromised individuals to talk to their doctors about infection precautions and vaccines.

The News...Briefly

Wild Swan Theater brings down the curtain. The children’s theater company put on hundreds of original and established works for upwards of a million raucously appreciative spectators since 1980. Co-founders Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder recently announced the company’s closure: “After more than four decades of joyful, exuberant, sometimes zany, sometimes poignant, always heartfelt theater making, it is time to say our goodbyes.” Wild Swan Theater

Ypsi Pride returns! Instead of a swirling, technicolored block party on South Washington St. there will be four smaller parties on four different nights, beginning with an art/drag/performance-themed night on June 4. Check Ypsi Pride on Facebook for details. Most performances will be livestreamed. 

Mohamed Soumah leaves sanctuary after two years. Soumah suffers from polycystic kidney disease, a condition that requires treatment he says is unavailable in his native Guinea. Soumah was offered sanctuary by the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting two years ago after a judge ordered his deportation for overstaying his visa. Now, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has granted him a stay of removal for one year. Michigan Radio

The West Park Bandshell needs a lift. Since opening in 1938, the outdoor stage has hosted thousands of concerts, including by such luminaries as the Grateful Dead. City council approved $76,000 for West Park maintenance in the current budget, but the cosmetic and structural repairs required to bring down the “Closed” signs posted around the building will cost much more. MLive (subscriber exclusive.) The Civic Band, which predates the bandshell by three years, has moved its summer concert series from the bandshell to the patio, every Wednesday, June 16-July 14. 

A big bang at the corner of Plymouth and Green in April was U-M students testing rocket engines. MASA is in a race to reach the edge of space by the end of the year. Tim Athan has our story. 

Road closures in Ypsilanti and Pittsfield townships through Friday. The road commission is doing maintenance chip seal projects on Stony Creek Rd. between Bemis and Textile, and on Crane between Textile and US-12. Expect lane restrictions with a flagging crew at each end of the work areas. Crane will open both lanes at the end of each day. Washtenaw County Road Commission

The intersection of Ashley and Liberty reopened to northbound and westbound traffic this week. More patience needed for eastbound traffic on Liberty, which is expected to remain closed until July 31​. Further ensnaring downtown travel, N. Fourth Ave is closed between Huron and Ann through June 18.  

Cicadas are emerging after 17 years underground. Thomas O'Dell of the U-M's Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum explains why it's a cause for wonder, not worry. Cynthia Furlong Reynolds has our story. 

Marketplace Changes

A familiar face in a new place: Marwan Al-Rabie closed Alpha Coney Island in the Oak Valley Centre two years ago to make room for an Old Navy story. Now he's back on the west side, where he's renovated the former Classic Cup Cafe on Jackson Rd. and reopened as the Alpha Diner. Micheline Maynard has our story. 

Million-dollar homes are outselling those priced below $250,000. Sue Maguire has the story in our new online Home Sales Map.

Pointless Brewery & Theatre has closed. The beer-and-improv destination on Packard tried to make a go of online classes during the pandemic, but the death of co-founder Tori Tomalia made it "extremely difficult to carry on," writes her widower, Jason Tomalia. On the north side, Peter and Megan Blackshear will be closing Bookbound Bookstore this month. They've operated their booklover's refuge in the Courtyard Shops since 2013. Micheline Maynard has our story

The Wolney family spent the year treasuring time with each other. Sometimes, too much time! But in many ways it was a blessing. Left to right: Henry, Corrine, Angie, George, and Dennis. 

It's been a YEAR.
Checking in with the Wolney family 

Angie Wolney wrote an essay about her family's life on lockdown for the first issue of a2view. Whittling wood, taking care of her ailing father, and helping her kids attend virtual school with an uncertain internet connection; so much has happened in a year, but even though the details of each life are different, the losses and gains, triumphs and frustrations we can all relate to.  Read Angie Wolney's story here. 

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

3 Thursday: Stream Brass Tacks Ensemble’s “Season 2 of Our Regularly Scheduled Program.” It includes ten pre-taped short plays by area playwrights, written specifically to be performed over Zoom, that cover a range of matters involving humor, mystery, personal revelation, and politics. On-demand viewing available starting at 6:30 p.m. or so June 3 at Free, but donations accepted.

4 Saturday: Learn about local climate actions and mitigation strategies, as well as what you can do to reduce your carbon impact, at A2Zero’s "Sweet Treat Meet & Greet in the Park with Your A2Zero Ambassadors" Ice cream, popsicles, cookies, and other sweets. Raffle. 4-6 p.m., at Virginia Park, Esch Park, Arbor Oaks Park, Northside Park, and Glacier Highlands Park.​​ Free. City A2Zero Week

5 Saturday: Watch the LGBTQ+ Out Loud Chorus in their outdoor concert “Out of the Closet,” featuring songs about clothing and appearance including Madonna's "Vogue," Chely Wright's "Sea of Cowboy Hats," Aida's "My Strongest Suit," and more. Accompaniment by pianist John Morefield, bassist Edie Herrold, guitarist Colette Jacobsen, and drummer Tamara Perkuhn. Emcee is local performer Dayne G. Bring a chair or something comfortable to sit on, and wear a mask. 8 p.m., Farmers Market parking lot, Kerrytown. Free.,

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

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