November 19, 2020

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This week

The Health Department is officially overwhelmed with case investigation efforts, and pressed the pause button for a collective reality check. County election officials have arrived at a shared sense of reality at last, and all votes from the November 3 election have been certified. 

It will just be my mother and I for Thanksgiving this year. If we’re honest, neither one of us is that crazy about Thanksgiving food (except for the “pope’s nose”) so we're looking forward to short ribs, a colorful salad, Cabernet Franc, and my favorite movie - Moonstruck.

How might you be adjusting your Thanksgiving plans in light of the recent surge? Please email me at with stories and plans you’d like to share with our readers. (We’ll be publishing a day early so all of us can enjoy the holiday.) 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Covid cases continue to climb, with one hundred fifty six reported on November 17 and sixteen hospitalizations, and 1,237 from Oct. 29 to November 11. In a statement, Washtenaw County health officer Jimena Loveluck warned that case investigators and contact tracers are overwhelmed “and cannot get to all situations as quickly as we’d like.” WCHD is prioritizing cases involving children, seniors, and individuals at higher risk. If you believe you may have been exposed to Covid-19, do not wait to be called by a case investigator but self-quarantine immediately. No-cost testing is available this Saturday Nov 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Washtenaw County Health Department (555 Towner St., Ypsilanti). Please pre-register.

A statewide “Pause to Save Lives” took effect Wednesday. The three-week public health order closes theaters and restaurant dining rooms, though outdoor seating and take-out continue. In-person high school and college classes are also suspended. Personal services like salons are allowed with masks and social distancing, and gyms can operate at 25 percent occupancy. Organized sports are suspended, except for college and professional sports under stringent guidelines.  MDHHS.  Ann Arbor and county offices are closed to the public, while Pittsfield offices are open by appointment only. 

Due to Covid cases among Ann Arbor District Library staff and family, all branches are closed for at least two weeks, beginning Nov. 15.

U-M ended in-person classes three days earlier than planned because of the stay-at-home order, but the two-week undergrad lockdown appears to have worked: students currently account for twenty eight percent of county cases, versus sixty percent in October. U-M Covid-19 dashboard. The university is administering more than eight-thousand Covid tests a week and urging all students to get tested before leaving campus. The line for testing outside the Michigan Union on Tuesday was a quarter mile long. Reddit.

EMU extended Thanksgiving break by two days, moved remaining ten percent of courses that had been delivered in-person to a remote format. The University is providing free Covid testing to students, faculty, and staff and encourages everyone to get tested prior to leaving for Thanksgiving break. 

Pro-Trump plaintiffs dropped their lawsuit seeking to invalidate Washtenaw County’s vote on Monday, without explanation. The county’s bipartisan board of canvassers certified the results and congratulated city and township clerks on their “excellent job” managing the record turnout.

Thousands lost power in Ann Arbor on Sunday when high winds knocked down power lines. DTE is expected to restore service by Thursday or before.

Last week's announcement about the Ann Arbor Observer's circulation changes was badly worded. The Observer will still to be delivered to all homeowners in the Ann Arbor zip codes and school district. Beginning in January, however, residents of large apartment complexes need to confirm their free subscriptions to continue to receive the magazine. Confirming is easy: simply click here or email


Ann Arbor’s diverse group of independent restaurants, retail shops, musicians, artists, and professional services are a big part of why Ann Arbor is so special, and they need our help to get through the winter. Kerrytown District, Main Street Ann Arbor, the State Street District, and the South University Area Association have created Show Your Love A2 with tips and links to help them make it. Don’t miss the Love Local video featuring The Ragbirds and a slew of favorite downtown businesses. 

A new sign on Plymouth Rd. announces “Korean BBQ.” But  Nagomi Korean Barbecue won’t open for a while.  Because Korean barbecue is best enjoyed fresh and in-person, the restaurant is on pause until the stay-at-home order lifts on December 8. 

If you were hoping to take advantage of the cold snap to get your skate on, Buhr and Veterans Ice Arenas are closed for three weeks. The MDHHS order has no exemption for outdoor ice arenas. 


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Virtually view University Musical Society’s first short episode in a documentary series about the making of and inspiration for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s 13 Tongues, the signature piece of new Cloud Gate artistic director Chen Tsung-Lung. This internationally acclaimed dance company includes dancers trained in tai chi, meditation, martial arts, Chinese opera movement, modern dance, ballet, and calligraphy. Preceded by Beckoning, a prerecorded 40-minute dance-theater piece that incorporates movements from Ba Jia Jiang, a form of Taiwanese street dancing. Available all day for free at

Saturday: Stop in the Gutman Gallery to see their holiday display and sale of works in various media and styles by over 50 jury-selected area artists (11 a.m.–5 p.m.). Items include jewelry, functional and decorative ceramics, small and large paintings, prints, fiber art, wood carvings, and more. The Guild of Artists & Artisans, 118 N. Fourth Ave. Free admission, masks required. 

Sunday: Get a head start on the annual A2 Turkey Trot, which will be a little different this year. Daily challenges include running a mile a day from any location, and more. For a complete rundown, see Epic Races. $45 entry fee includes delivery of a T-shirt, hat, and medal that doubles as a bottle stopper.

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

Ask a2view

Janice Keller and Susan Wineberg both asked why the bells in Burton Tower are no longer chiming the quarter hour. “I live very close and use those bells to pace myself when I’m gardening,” Wineberg wrote. “I’m planting tulips and daffodils and more right now.  But I never know the time!  Besides, I love hearing those Westminster chimes.” 

The Baird Carillon is a fifty-three-bell instrument which is played  by a live performer sitting at the clavier on the top floor. The Westminster Quarters sounds the quarter hours using five bells of the carillon (including “Big Baird,” the largest) and is played by an automated system managed by the Facilities & Operations Dept. Unbeknownst to the School of Music, Theater & Dance which runs the carillon, Smith's Bell & Clock, Inc. was contracted in 2019 to replace the aging system that rings the Westminster Quarters. It hasn’t worked since, and the facilities department has not responded to inquiries about when the bells might ring again. 

Robbin Pott started her L3C Pott Farms to help build sustainable livelihoods in Washtenaw County. Photo courtesy of Robbin Pott. 

Pott Farms

An Advocate makes it her business to help others

Over her two-decade career as a child advocate, lawyer and policy expert, Robbin Pott learned that families struggling with the long term effects of poverty and racism need economic opportunity more than anything else. Pott believes the cannabis industry has the potential to provide stable livelihoods for independent business owners and their employees. So she decided to start a business to show it could be done, and help others do it too. 

Pott's business goal is three fold: to create CBD products with tangible health benefits, to offer good livelihoods and training in cannabis farming and processing, and to restore soil health and biodiversity to farmland. The Observer's Trilby MacDonald has our story. 

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