October 22, 2020

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This week

Covid cases continue to climb, with the highest numbers in the 18 to 22 age bracket. Contact tracing indicates that most new cases among students came from social gatherings, not inside the classroom. 

The majority of absentee ballots mailed to Ann Arbor residents have been returned to the City Clerk's office, an early indication of high voter turnout.

The fall colors are hitting their full splendor, with warm weather drawing bikers, hikers, and Sunday drivers out to admire their beauty. Those of us who ordered new bicycles in the spring may be getting them just in time.  

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Washtenaw County continues to set new records for Covid-19 infections, with eighty-eight new infections confirmed yesterday. Sixty-six percent are college age, 18-22 years old. 

“The situation locally has become critical, Washtenaw County health officer Jimena Loveluck said when she announced a “stay-in-place” order for U-M undergrads on Tuesday. They’re told to remain in their residences unless attending class, accessing dining services, carrying out approved work that cannot be done remotely, or voting. Mary Markley dorm had 92 cases as of Saturday.  Its residents can’t even leave for classes - they’re being moved online. 

With the U-M football season starting this weekend, mayors from a dozen Big Ten college towns asked conference officials to decide whether or not to proceed with games based on community infection and test positivity rates—and to avoid games “in the evening or late afternoon, as these start times are associated with increased [social] activity.”

Ann Arbor City Clerk Jackie Beaudry reports receiving 32,823 absentee ballots as of Tuesday, 62% of the 52,548 sent out. If you haven’t mailed yours already, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recommends delivering it directly to your local clerk’s office or secure drop box

Scores gathered on the Diag Saturday to hear female federal, state, and local officials call for more women in government, support for people suffering in the pandemic, and engagement in the November election. Part of the annual Women’s March, the event was organized this year by Shine & Rise. 


Dexter’s Encore Musical Theatre Company launches a $2.5 million building purchase and expansion project. The company has purchased the historic Copeland building from the Dexter Community Schools and is turning it into a 250-seat, thrust-stage theater with state-of-the-art light and sound systems.

Banfield’s Bar & Grill, considered by some the “Cheers” of Ann Arbor, will not reopen. Owner Harry Hawkins died earlier this year, and the property is for sale. Tom Thompson Flowers is also a pandemic casualty. Customers appreciated Thompson’s naturalistic, Japanese-inspired designs, and nonprofits his generous support of their causes. 

Ann Arbor’s annual downtown trick or treat is canceled, but local businesses are offering Halloween-themed prizes, activities, and items for sale. Main Street Area Association. 

Workit Health won an Ann Arbor Spark Fast Track award for high growth. The Ann Arbor company pairs virtual clinical, therapeutic, and behavioral health services with prescription medications to help people detox and recover from addiction at home. Stress and isolation caused by the pandemic have led to a twenty-seven percent rise in alcohol sales nationally, and according to the American Medical Association, drug overdoses are up in forty states.

Kai Petainen posted this time lapse video to Ann Arbor Townies Facebook page, taken October 13, 2020. The view is looking east along the Huron River towards Gallup Park and the Furstenberg Nature Area. 


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Tune in to “funky, angry, and friendly” avant-garde jazz improvisations by brass ensemble Purple Gums, the opening artists for the 2020 virtual Edgefest Festival (7:30 p.m.).

Saturday: Get in the Halloween spirit at Leslie Science & Nature Center’s family-friendly educational mystery event Animal Haunts (6:30–9:30 p.m.). Or, see the Bolder-based world renowned ensemble Takács Quartet virtually perform Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "Five Fantasiestücke," renowned African American composer Florence Price's String Quartet in A minor, Mozart's String Quartet in D minor, and quartets by Bartók and Debussy (available all day). 

Sunday: Watch a program of spoken word and dance at the virtual Rasa Festival, an annual celebration of traditional and contemporary South Asian music and art (Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m.–noon). 

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

A Shift in Care 

For people in recovery, the pandemic brought new dangers—but also bred resilience. 

People who are in the early stages of their recovery from substance abuse disorder are advised to avoid stress and isolation as much as possible, says Dawn Farm communications director Olivia Vigiletti. Yet public safety restrictions leave many feeling more stressed and isolated than ever. In the midst of it all, two local twenty-somethings describe how their recovery communities helped them find a renewed sense of resilience and solidarity. The Observer's Ella Bourland has our story.

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