October 8, 2020

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This week

After a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases among students late last week, new confirmed cases are down again and clusters on campus are contained. Cases are starting to appear in K-12 students, but numbers are low. Mask orders remain in place for Washtenaw County. 

The Michigan Theater is one of the few venues large enough to reopen despite seating restrictions. It features a wide-ranging lineup of big name releases, breakout directors, and old favorites. Theater Nova brings the small stage to the small screen with three new plays written to be performed live over Zoom. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Washtenaw County set all-time records for positive Covid-19 tests on Sept. 25 and 27, with 67 and 66, respectively. “Without question we're seeing an increase, and a sharp increase, in cases,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, public information officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department, in an Oct. 1 phone call.

Three-quarters of those testing positive are college age. "The spike in cases among university students seems to be leveling off, but cases remain somewhat elevated," notes Ringler-Cerniglia. The challenge is how it’s managed: “Do we get good compliance with contact tracing, following the isolation and quarantine guidelines, and the spread is really contained? Or do we continue to see spread?”  

This week, positive tests are running below 40 a day. While the college outbreaks seem to be contained, younger students are now showing up in the statistics. "This week and last, we are starting to see more cases and exposures at the K-12 level as schools reopen or continue in-person learning or athletics," Ringler-Cerniglia emails.  

The Michigan Supreme Court rules that Gov. Whitmer lacks authority to extend states of emergency, but mask mandates remain in place. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued its own emergency order under the public health code which largely reinstates the governor’s orders. Washtenaw County health officer Jimena Loveluck has also issued an order on the use of face coverings, social gatherings, bar and restaurant capacity and employee health screenings. 

To help lower-income residents stay safe during the winter months, the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development will distribute 10,000 free masks over the next several weeks. Partners include nonprofit organizations, libraries, and apartment complexes located throughout the county.

Pushback on proposed agreement for cleanup of Gelman dioxane plume. Initial support for a proposed settlement to remediate dioxane that the now-defunct Gelman Sciences discharged beneath its Scio Township plant has faded. The plan to divert partially treated wastewater into First Sister Lake at the Dolph Nature Area met with strong criticism in a series of public meetings. The Michigan Department of Environment is now looking at alternate discharge locations, including returning discharge water to deep wells on the Gelman property. MLive.

Looking for your local absentee ballot box? Zack Hecht created a website to help voters wishing to cast their ballot absentee to find their nearest ballot drop box location.


MI and State Theaters to reopen Oct 9, 11. After a seven month hiatus, the Michigan and State Theaters will reopen for in-person screenings. With funding from Toyota Motor North America, extensive safety measures have been implemented, including an updated HVAC system for fresh air. Click here for a detailed description of their Covid-19 safety plan. Upcoming films include Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, and the 40 Year old Version, written, directed, and starring Radha Blank. 

Crumbl Cookie opens Ann Arbor location. Warm cookies that melt in your mouth. Cold cookies that stand up to ice cream. Crisp cookies, soft cookies, wild and crazy and back to basics cookies. If you like cookies at all, this new entry onto Ann Arbor’s food scene has you covered. But plan to do some math when you look at the nutrition information: the calorie counts are based on half a cookie!  


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Watch three plays written specifically to be performed live over Zoom as part of Theatre Nova’s Zoom Play Series this weekend (8–8:45 p.m.)

Saturday: Start your day with “Saturday Morning Physics,” U-M physics department’s popular talk series aimed at general audiences. Today, U-M physics professor Fred Adams discusses “Fine Tuning the Universe,” explaining fundamental constraints that determined its structure and made life possible (10:30–11:30 a.m.). Later, watch an acoustic performance by The Verve Pipe, a veteran dance-rock band. (8 p.m.). 

Sunday: Share your musical inclinations at Ann Arbor’s (Mostly) Acoustic Virtual Jam (7–9 p.m.). Read a review by the Observer’s Patrick Dunn here

Get a jump on your Halloween with the Ann Arbor District Library by entering the AADL's Costume Contest, Pumpkin Contest, Halloween Scene Contest, and Worst Spookiest Opening Line Contest. Contests close Oct. 18. Check out the AADL Halloween Special on Oct. 31 featuring the storytime team. Details and more at

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

Ann Arbor’s (Mostly) Acoustic Jam meets monthly on Zoom. Illustration: Tabitha Walters

Townies rescue "Magic Bike"  

By Trilby MacDonald

Townies rescue “magic bike.” Debby Rossman Retzer was planning to ride in a bike-a-thon to raise money to find a cure for the disease that struck her son four years ago. When she left work at Mott Children’s Hospital, she discovered her bike had been stolen. It’s a Facebook story with a twist. The Observer’s Trilby MacDonald has our story

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