November 12, 2020

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This week

The upper limit of the Washtenaw County Health Department's Covid graph had to be raised again as daily infection rates continue to break records. Local first responders could receive doses of a new vaccine from Pfizer as soon as this month. Thanksgiving marks the end of in-person classes at U-M, and the administration is encouraging students not to return to campus for the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic year. 

A stretch of summer-like weather makes it hard to believe Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. Stroll past the UMMA and you'll be in for a big piece of advice: a twenty-five foot sculpture reminds us not to blind ourselves to the things we wish we couldn't see. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Covid-19 infection records continue to be broken, with 133 new cases confirmed on Nov. 10 and 1,010 between Oct. 22 and Nov. 4. The infection rate among students is up slightly, with forty-one percent of new cases between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four years old. Five county residents have died since Oct. 24, the highest toll in a three-week period since June.  

We are noticing an uptick in Covid-related responses but a downtick in calls for 911 service, recalling a trend we saw at the beginning of the pandemic caused by the public’s anxiety around Covid and staying away from the hospital,” says Marc Breckenridge, Huron Valley Ambulance public information officer. 

HVA first responders could get the Pfizer vaccine this month. “Arrangements are being made statewide for priority recipients to have vaccines delivered to facilities with ultra-cold storage,” says Breckenridge.

The Washtenaw County Health Department urges widespread flu vaccination to reduce the stress on the health system during the pandemic. Shots are available at many local pharmacies, and WCHD is sponsoring free drive-through flu vaccine clinics on Nov. 12 at Emmanuel United Church in Manchester and Nov. 14 at Corner Health in Ypsilanti. Click here for details. 

Federal lawsuit seeks to throw out votes in Washtenaw, Ingham, and Wayne Counties over allegations of fraud. The plaintiffs claim that Republican ballot challengers were harassed, votes were cast illegally, and ballots were tampered with, among other allegations. Disqualifying the 1.2 million votes cast for Biden in these counties would give Trump the lead in Michigan. MLive. 

Hundreds gathered at City Hall on Sunday evening for a vigil to remember Aura Rosser and call for police oversight and reform, then marched through downtown chanting “How do you spell murder? AAPD” and “Take it to the streets and f*** the police.” Rosser was killed in 2014 in the home of Victor Lynn Stephens by AAPD officers responding to Stephens’ domestic disturbance call. Coincidentally, Sunday’s Ann Arbor News reported Stephens’ arrest on armed robbery charges. Brendan Gutenschwager, MLive. 

More remote courses, fewer undergrads on campus, and mandatory weekly Covid testing are among the new measures announced this week to protect the U-M community during the shortened winter semester. No instructor will be required to teach in person and all students are encouraged to remain in their permanent residences if possible. Many residence halls will be closed altogether, but some rooms will be available for single occupancy. University Record

The Wolverines lost to Indiana on Saturday, ending a 24 game winning streak against the Hoosiers that began in 1987. Michigan had hoped for a comeback after a disastrous loss to MSU, but a weak defense and several missed throws contributed to a 38 to 21 loss. Michigan Daily. Saturday's game will be at home against the Wisconsin Badgers, who have not played since opening week due to an outbreak of Covid-19. 

The Attorney General’s office has signed an agreement with Ann Arbor janitorial equipment supplier A.M. Cleaning & Supplies LLC after it was found to be in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act by overcharging for hand sanitizer early in the pandemic. Eleven consumer complaints about price gouging were received against the company. Click on Detroit

Artist and activist Chin Azzaro has created an outdoor project called “Traveling Feet: A Few Illustrative Highlights of Ypsilanti’s Black History,” with images and short descriptions of the Brown Chapel AME Church, the First Ward School, the United States Colored Troops graves at Highland Cemetery, and the razing of the community that used to exist between Huron, S. Hamilton, and Harriet.

Jazz saxophonist and landscaper Daniel Bennett lost "tools, twenty years of music, equipment and compositions" among other valuables in a devastating house fire over the weekend. Luckily, he and his young son were unharmed. Friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the family rebuild. 

A new public sculpture will be erected in front of the UMMA on State St. today. Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa’s Behind the Walls—a giant white head with hands covering the eyes—was previously installed in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza. MLive

The Ann Arbor Observer is changing its distribution policy. Starting in 2021, the magazine will be delivered only to apartment residents in the Ann Arbor zip code area and school district who have confirmed their free subscription. Confirming is easy: simply click here or email

The Brown Chapel AME Church, the second oldest active AME congregation in Michigan, was in a residential home before money was raised to build its first location at the corner of Buffalo and Adams Street. Courtesy of Chin Azzaro. 


Ann Arborite Rita Shelley launched Cheeky Spices, for lovers of vibrant and exotic flavors who have food sensitivities. Each blend is sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO, low sodium, and is made in an allergen-free facility in Michigan. Cheeky Spices currently has three blends: Lady Liberty, The Herbalist, and The Silk Road. Click on Detroit. 

The Main Street Area Association is ending weekend street closures starting this weekend, however sidewalk patios will extend into street parking spaces through November 30.


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Tune in the 31st Annual U•Con Gaming Convention this weekend (Fri., 6 p.m.–1 a.m. and Sat., 9 a.m.–1 a.m., and Sun., 9 a.m.– 11:59 p.m.) to play a wide spectrum of virtual games, from board and card games to role-playing and miniaturized simulations of historical and fictional battlefields. Pay what you can, online at U•Con

Saturday: See the The Purple Rose Theatre Company’s virtual reading of Ohio-based playwright Eric Pfeffinger's 2018 political comedy Human Error (10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.). It's about a liberal couple trying to start a family whose fertilized embryo is implanted in the uterus of a churchgoing small-government NRA cardholder. Free, but preregistration required at Chelsea District Library. Watch a livestream set from the Ark’s stage by local singer-guitarist Laith Al-Saadi (8 p.m.), who’s known for performing an eclectic mix of roots Americana, classic rock, and blues, including many originals. He rocketed to national prominence in 2016 with a 4th-place finish on NBC's The Voice. Free, online at Ark Family Room Series.

Sunday: Kids ages 6–11 invited to read to adoptable animals at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (10 a.m.–noon). Choose from the books available or bring one of your own, if you like. Masks required. $10 per kid, preregistration required at HSHV.

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

Charles Baird: Visionary for Town and Gown 

Charles Baird transformed the University of Michigan in two distinct ways, first through athletics (1890-1908) and then through art (1935-1941). Because he seldom sought public credit, his name is less well known than that of the football coach he hired, Fielding Yost. But his influence is felt whenever a game is played at the Big House, there's a carillon concert at Burton Tower, or children play by the fountain on Ingalls Mall. The Observer's Jeffrey Welch has our story.

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