ISSUU version

Where to Turn

Among the most difficult aspects of the Covid-19 outbreak has been that many families and individuals are facing problems on multiple fronts. This guide brings together as many resources as we can, organized by need. General resources are listed first, followed by some of the most urgent services.

The pages that follow provide additional information about Health Resources, Community Services, and Government Services.

General Resources

Confused by the rumors and hearsay about the Covid-19 pandemic? For the latest and most accurate information, consult the Washtenaw County Health Department (, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus website and hotline (, 888-535-6136, daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m.), or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ( Scroll past the marketing messages on Michigan Medicine’s Covid-19 page ( to track the number of Covid-positive patients in its hospitals and view color-coded map of cases in Michigan.

The longtime go-to for help in Washtenaw County has been the local chapters of the United Way ( It operates a phone and online referral guide to a wide range of social services. Dial 2-1-1 (24 hours) or visit Online chat and email support are also available. United Way’s Covid-19 Relief Fund is raising and distributing funds to support small businesses during the pandemic. To donate, go to The organization also welcomes volunteers–call (734) 921-8200.

Washtenaw County has a concise guide to essential services online at

The University of Michigan Poverty Services office has an extensive list of pandemic resources in its online Michigan COVID-19 Pandemic Resource Guide, Not at all restricted to the university community and its members, this guide, available in Spanish and Arabic in addition to English, covers everything from health information to unemployment insurance, food assistance, and mortgage payment deferrals.

The nonprofit Friends in Deed is operating a searchable online help desk ( that shares food, medical, and financial tips–and also advice on how to keep kids and teens busy at home.

The online magazine Concentrate ( maintains its own updated list of Covid-19 resources. It includes not only general resources about the virus but also links to information about business assistance from the A2Y Chamber of Commerce, Destination Ann Arbor’s business toolkit, and programs from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the New Economy Relief Fund, and the Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund and Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund. There are also links for agencies including the Ann Arbor Community Foundation and the United Way, that are offering direct support or zero-interest loans to Washtenaw County nonprofits.

The Area Agency on Aging 1-B has a webpage of Covid-19 updates for seniors ( The agency maintains a useful list of stores with senior hours as well as grocery delivery and pickup information, listings of circulating scams, phone support groups to help to counteract feelings of isolation, and places to turn for food assistance and utility help, as well as downloadable lists of resources for the entire six-county southeastern Michigan area.

And you can always find emergency numbers and websites of all kinds in the Ann Arbor Observer City Guide. If you don’t have your print copy, go to and click on the “City Guide” link. You’ll find sections devoted to Abuse, Assault, and Domestic Violence; Family and Housing Crises; Health Emergencies; Police and Fire; Substance Abuse; Utilities; and more.


There is a statewide moratorium on evictions. For agencies that help with rent payments, try United Way’s 2-1-1 phone line or website (above). Under the federal CARES Act, homeowners with federally insured mortgages can apply for mortgage forbearance for as long as a year.

The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County has expanded capacity to allow social distancing. Entry to all shelters is via Housing Access for Washtenaw County (734-961-1999, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)

The SafeHouse Domestic violence shelter (734-995-5444, remains open. The Ozone House youth shelter is temporarily closed, but its transitional housing for young adults is operating, as is its crisis line: (734) 662-2222.


Food Gatherers has information and a map of food pantries at (734) 761-2796.

Meals on Wheels is providing meals for homebound adults on a reduced schedule. (734) 998-6686,

Internet Access

The Ann Arbor District Library ‘s buildings might be closed, but the WiFi is still running strong. For the strongest signals, try the Downtown Library staff parking lot or the lots at the Westgate and Malletts Creek branches.

Comcast customers who can’t pay Internet service fees because of the crisis should contact the company. Go to or call (734) 224-6850 or (800) 934-6489. The company says it will not disconnect service or assess late fees during this period.

Comcast also has temporarily opened its Xfinity WiFi hotspots to non-subscribers. Look for “xfinitywifi” in your list of networks to see if one is available near you.

AT&T ( and Verizon ( are suspending service termination and late fees for customers affected by the pandemic.


All basic City of Ann Arbor services are continuing during the shutdown, including water and sewer service. Water shutoffs are suspended during a statewide moratorium.

DTE customers with a sudden loss of income or medical condition, as well as vulnerable seniors, can call (800) 477-4747 to determine eligibility for payment assistance. Consumers Power customers: (800) 477-5050. Both companies are suspending shutoffs to low-income and senior customers during the crisis.

–James M. Manheim


Covid-19 Q&A

Q: Do I really have to keep social distancing?

A: Yes. “What everybody needs to do is to act as if there’s a low risk of exposure every time they go out,” advises Susan Ringler-Cerniglia of the Washtenaw Department of Health. Social distancing, handwashing, and quarantine help “by slowing the spread of illness to not overwhelm the health systems. That’s what this is all about.”

Even people who feel fine can be infected with the novel coronavirus–and infect others. When the navy belatedly tested the entire crew of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in April, it found that more than 600 were infected–but most had no symptoms.

Q: What if I think I may have Covid-19?

A: You have a bit of a cough, maybe a fever. What should you do?

According to Ringler-Cerniglia, it’s likely to be a while before mass testing for people with mild symptoms is available in the U.S. “We hope that our ability to test people quickly and in mass numbers will continue to improve,” she says, but in the meantime, “the medical advice and the medical treatment is really the same with and without testing.

“We want you to stay home. We want you to isolate yourself from anyone else in the household as much as possible. Many people who get this can recover on their own that way.”

Consult your doctor by phone, and be prepared to seek treatment quickly if needed–the infection can progress very rapidly. “This virus is no joke,” according to Sergeant Eugene Rush of the Washtenaw County Sheriff who contracted Covid-19. “It has taken a toll on me like no other. I consider myself to be pretty healthy … but the virus is so powerful that it will make you feel like you’re dying.”

Call your doctor if you experience:

    Fever that does not come down with medication.

    Vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours or any bloody diarrhea.

    Shortness of breath.

    Symptoms that keep getting worse and feel unmanageable.

If you do not have a doctor, call the Washtenaw County Health Department at (734) 544-6700 and leave a message. Health Department staff check messages multiple times per day.

Call ahead to the emergency department at Michigan Medicine (734-936-6666) or St. Joseph Mercy (734-712-3000) or call 9-1-1 if you have:

    Difficulty breathing/inability to catch your breath.

    Chest pain.

    Feel faint, light-headed or unstable in any other way.

At press time, testing is by referral only. Michigan Medicine patients and employees can call (734) 763-6336. St. Joseph Mercy Hospital patients can call (833) 247-1258.

If testing expands as Ringler-Cerniglia hopes, local institutions are working to make it more accessible. “We recognize that not everyone has access to a car to access the drive-in testing locations,” says Neel Hajra, CEO of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation. “We’re working with local partners to see if we can deploy capital to expand testing to the most vulnerable communities in the county, which are also the ones hardest hit by Covid-19.”

Q: What if I don’t have insurance?

A: If you do not have health insurance, the Washtenaw Health Plan can assist you in securing coverage. Ringler-Cerniglia advises that you don’t wait until you experience symptoms to line up coverage. Call (734) 544-3030 or email

The St. Joseph Mercy Neighborhood Family Health Center in Ypsilanti (, (734) 547-7977 accepts all insurances and treats county residents without insurance. Ypsi’s Corner Health Center ( 734-484-3600) provides services to people ages twelve to twenty-five regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. The three Packard Health ( locations accept Medicaid and offer sliding scale fees: Ann Arbor West, (734) 926-4900; Ann Arbor East, (734) 971-1073; and Ypsilanti, (734) 985-7200.

Q: I feel fine, but someone in my house has a fever and cough. What should we do?

A: “The last thing we want to do is have someone become sick in that household and then have everyone else get sick in that household,” says Ringler-Cerniglia. “Anybody with any symptoms should do the best they can to isolate from everyone else.”

If someone in your household is infected, if possible have that person sleep in a separate room and avoid food preparation, Ringler-Cerniglia advises, and everyone in the household should wear a mask.

As he recovers from Covid-19, Sergeant Rush is following this advice with his family. In a Facebook Live video shared by the sheriff’s office, he revealed, “My oldest son, I’m pretty sure he does have it, he does have quite a few of the symptoms. So we are quarantining in the house in different sections of the house.”

Q: What about my other health care needs?

A: Many health care providers are rescheduling non-essential visits or turning them into video visits or e-visits. Michigan Medicine has changed the location for many of their still-scheduled outpatient visits to reduce risk of transmitting Covid-19. If you have a non-Covid-related healthcare appointment scheduled, contact your provider for current information.

Many pharmacies are also offering free delivery of prescriptions to reduce virus transmission.

Q: Between coronavirus anxiety, social distancing, and my kids out of school, I’m at the end of my rope. Where do I turn for mental health care?

A: Washtenaw County Community Mental Health CARES team operates a 24/7 crisis line during the Covid-19 response for support and resources about any mental health question. Call (734) 544-3050 or text “share” to 741741.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has created a “warm line” staffed by individuals with a lived experience of mental illness. Washtenaw County Community Mental Health Director Trish Cortes describes it as “another resource for folks if they just need to talk to someone who understands what it’s like to be someone that lives with mental illness or just needs support.” The warm line is available daily from 10 a.m.-2 a.m. at (888) 733-7753.

Many counselors and therapists have moved their treatment online. “I never wanted to do telehealth conferencing, but because of the situation I’ve been doing it,” says Su Hansen, a therapist in private practice. “And I’ve been very, very surprised that it has worked so well.”

Q: Being isolated is making my elderly neighbor really anxious. Is there anyone who could check in on her?

A: Jewish Family Services (734-769-0209, is offering telephone reassurance to all seniors who need it from a trained volunteer. Email to arrange.

Q: Any advice for managing my own stress?

A: This pandemic is stressful for everyone. The health department advises that you find ways to stay connected to your loved ones, maintain a schedule for your day, limit information overload, and practice deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or other methods of meditation.

Many local wellness practitioners are offering online sessions. Rec and Ed has launched with remote classes in yoga, arts, music, gardening, and more. Mindful City Ann Arbor ( has transitioned their popular “Being in Tune” free guided mindfulness meditation to online.

Q: I’ve been drinking way too much since this started. Where can I find substance abuse help?

A: “Addicts and alcoholics are pretty creative,” observes Jim Balmer, president of Dawn Farm ( Social media groups and online mutual aid groups have proliferated during the pandemic.

Glynis Anderson, CEO of Home of New Vision (, (734) 975-1602, says they’re still “connecting people to recovery coaches and case managers,” using phone screenings to direct people to the appropriate level of care and phone or telemedicine sessions for recovery coaching. For a list of SMART Recovery and All Recovery online meetings, see their website or call them at (734) 975-1602 for a screening. Huron Valley Area Intergroup maintains a directory of online 12 step meetings at and offers a helpline at (734) 482-5700.

Information about Covid-19 testing availability, and medical guidelines are changing rapidly. These answers are accurate as of press time. Please visit for up to date information from the Washtenaw County Health Department.

–Chuck Warpehoski



A selection of the most essential services for surviving the pandemic. See also “Where to Turn” on the first page of this guide.

Child Care

Child Care Network. CCN’s office is closed, but it is partnering with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) to connect essential workers with licensed child care programs. Intake online at


Food Gatherers, 1 Carrot Way, (734) 761-2796. Food rescue program and food bank supplies a network of food pantries and meal programs. Drive-through pickup of prepackaged boxes or ready-to-eat bagged meals. Donations accepted Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Food Gatherers and Michigan Medicine are accepting donated food and personal protective equipment at the U-M North Campus Research Complex (2800 Plymouth, loading dock 90). 1-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Most gifts are tax-deductible under the CARES Act.

Community Action Network (CAN). (734) 994-2985. Food pantries and distributions at the Arrowwood Hills, Bryant, Hikone, and Green Baxter Court community centers remain open with extended hours.

Jewish Family Services, (734) 769-0209. Specialty food pantry (kosher, halal, gluten free) offers delivery during the pandemic–order online or by phone (prompt six). Home meal delivery.

Meals on Wheels, 2025 Traverwood, Suite F. (734) 998-6686. Delivers meals to homebound adults Tues., Thurs., Sat. (quantities sufficient to cover non-delivery days).

SOS Community Services (101 S. Huron, Ypsilanti, 734-961-1206, Food pantry open without appointment. Pick up pre-bagged groceries. Tues. 1-6:30 p.m. & Wed. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

SNAP and FAP: Food Assistance Program recipients are not required to report qualifying work activities during the pandemic. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients may get benefits up to the maximum amount allowed. Application helpline: (888) 544-8773.

Ann Arbor Public School food distribution: To-go breakfasts and lunches available at many locations, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. See for information. If you cannot make it to a pickup location, call the the AAPS Food Service Hotline at (734) 994-2265.

Ann Arbor Community Center, 625 N. Main. (734) 662-3128. Food pantry currently by delivery only.

Hope Clinic, 518 Harriet, Ypsilanti, (734) 484-2989. Evening hot meals, emergency groceries, and produce/pantry appointments.

Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 N. Maple. (734) 795-5422. Food pantry Tues. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., & Fri. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Fresh produce, lunch, breads.

SOS Community Services, 114 N. River St., Ypsilanti. (734) 485-8730, Food pantry open Tues. 1-6:30 p.m. and Weds. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for appointments and walk-ins. Pre-packaged fresh produce, bread, canned, and boxed items available for all; receive a bag of food at the door. No more than six individuals in the pantry at a time. Call for more information.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church breakfast program, 306 N. Division, (734) 663-0518, ext. 206. Hot carryout breakfasts for pickup only.


Housing Access for Washtenaw County, (734) 961-1999. Point of entry to all county homeless shelters. HAWC is still operating the call center for those in a housing crisis and in need of emergency shelter; no walk-ins at this time. Shelter diversion is being implemented as much as possible.

Shelter Association of Washtenaw County (SAWC), 312 W. Huron, (734) 662-2829. SAWC is currently operating two off-site locations, a hotel and a congregation site, to reduce the head count at the Delonis Center homeless shelter. Delonis is functioning as an overflow with additional beds for anyone seeking emergency shelter.

Non-residential services are still available, though those coming to Delonis Center can expect a longer process to access resources, including a health screening at the door and limitations on the number of people in the building at a time.

The PORT/PATH team, embedded within Washtenaw County Community Mental Health (CMH), continues its outreach to people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Peace House (Jimmy Hill Memorial House), 3501 Stone School Rd. (734) 249-4198. Private “house of hospitality” open to serve the homeless Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m-5 p.m. & Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner at 3 p.m. Food delivery available.

Michigan Ability Partners. Food pantry is stocked and they are delivering to housing and payee clients on request. Weekly deliveries to the Grant Per Diem (GPD) program.

Business/Nonprofit Support

Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation Short-Term Cash Flow Loan Program. Loans of $5,000-$50,000 to 501(c)3 nonprofits.

Washtenaw County Small Business Emergency Relief Fund. Working capital grants of up to $5,000 to local small businesses. Oversubscribed and not currently taking applications. Donations still needed. Website where local businesses post information on how customers can support them and/or their staffs during the shutdown. Businesses use the main address to post requests. Supporters view them at Statewide site where customers can buy gift cards to support businesses suffering in the shutdown. Use the “town” pulldown to find Ann Arbor businesses.

Student Aid

Eastern Michigan University student emergency fund (up to $750).


University of Michigan student emergency fund.

Washtenaw Community College Student Emergency Fund (up to $500). (734) 973-3300.

Pet Services

Humane Society of Huron Valley. 3100 Cherry Hill, (734) 662-5585. Adoptions, drive-up and telemedicine vet appointments, fostering for pets whose people are undergoing treatment or otherwise unable to care for them. Apply online for help buying pet food at


TheRide buses are currently free, but service frequency has been reduced and digital signs advise “essential trips only.” Visit for the latest information. The AirRide bus to and from Metro Airport and the new D2A2 Ann Arbor-to-Detroit express bus have both been suspended until further notice.

Parking in public parking structures in downtown Ann Arbor is free. Careful, though–you still have to feed the on-street parking meters.

Unemployment Benefits

Expanded unemployment benefits are available for those who’ve lost work because of the pandemic and shutdown. For the first time, independent contractors filing 1099 tax forms are also now eligible for benefits.

File by phone (866-500-0017) or online ( Filing days are based on the first letter of the applicant’s last name: people with names beginning with A-L apply by phone on Mon. & Weds., online Mon., Weds. & Fri. People with names beginning M-Z apply by phone Tues. & Thurs., online Tues., Thurs., and Sun. Makeup days: Sat. online, Fri. & Sat. by phone.

Veterans Services

Washtenaw County Veterans Affairs. Office is closed, but providing case management remotely and continuing to do intakes and move homeless veterans into grants-per-diem (GPD) and permanent housing.

–Jan Schlain



City of Ann Arbor

“The City is 100 percent committed to the uninterrupted provision of basic services” during the Covid-19 shutdown, says mayor Christopher Taylor. “We will continue to provide basic services in absolutely all circumstances, which includes police, fire, water, wastewater, and solid waste.”

The most visible change may be in the police department, where all officers have been issued N95 masks and gloves and other protective equipment. “We may act a little differently,” advises AAPD chief Mike Cox. “We might want you to have a conversation outside of your home, maybe on your porch.”

“The City as an organization does not provide direct human services,” Taylor notes. “The most direct human service function that the City performs is the provision of housing through the Housing Commission. We as landlords have committed to no evictions.”

On April 6, in a meeting via video conference, City Council approved $200,000 of emergency spending for the Ann Arbor Housing Commission. These funds will be used for rent subsidy to prevent future evictions, increased security to protect vulnerable and high health risk populations, and food security for residents.

Washtenaw County

County government rarely gets the attention that city government does. With Covid-19, however, county government is leading the local response through its health department, community mental health, sheriff’s department, and more.

The health department coordinates the responses of healthcare, governmental, and other organizations. For example, healthcare providers, laboratories, and hospitals all report their testing results to the department. It uses them to form an overall picture of the disease spread, and also for individual follow up. With Covid-19, “we contact each and every person diagnosed to “make sure that, first and foremost, they’re getting the care that they need … We also go through a very detailed timeline of where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.” Everyone who’s had close contact with them, such as attending a social gathering, riding in the same car, or living in the same household, gets a “direct, personal notification.”

Sheriff’s Department

“It’s important to us because we care about the people in the jail. It’s important to us because we care about the community.” That’s how Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton explains the changes his department is making in jail operations and deputy patrols.

The jail average daily count last year was 365. In mid April it was 151. Clayton says arrests are down, and some individuals have had their sentence or bond status changed through judicial review. Everyone entering the jail facility is screened, and so far, no prisoner had the virus. “We have had to quarantine a couple of incarcerated individuals that were suspected on being infected,” Clayton emails, “however their test came back negative.”

Economic Development

To help address the economic hardship caused by the pandemic, the county has joined the Song Foundation, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Bank of Ann Arbor, and others to create the $1.3 million Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund ( Demand “has been incredible–far exceeded the funds available,” observes Jenn Cornell Queen of SPARK, which is administering it. Grant applications are closed, but the fund is still accepting donations to expand its impact.

Ann Arbor Public Schools

“At this time, even before our critical mission of teaching and learning, we are attending to issues of health and safety first,” Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeanice Swift wrote to families following Governor Whitmore’s executive order closing schools for the rest of the school year.

All local school districts are rolling out plans to support student learning, maintain school feeding programs, provide technology needed to support online learning, and support the educational needs of students in special education.

The AAPS central resource page ( links to a trove of detailed information. For instance, the district’s “continuity of learning plan” including three supported online platforms: (Google Classroom, Moodle, and SeeSaw) and providing students with iPads and Chromebooks. AAPS has delivered almost 2,000 devices, as well as mobile hot spots to those without high speed internet access.

For tech support, the district’s family help desk is open Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (734) 997-1222.

Many students depend on free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the school year, and AAPS spokesperson Andrew Cluley says the district “distributed over 100,000 meals in the first month, thanks to many community partners including Peace Neighborhood Center, Community Action Network, Avalon Housing and several other housing developments in the community. We are serving approximately 2,000 students every time we distribute food.”

Special Education

The school closure and social distancing is hard on all students, especially for students with special education needs. AAPS support staff has been in direct contact with families to discuss student services during the closure.

AAPS also offers online resources and a parents of special needs student helpline at (734) 994-2318. While most of the hotline calls have been technology-related, Cluley shares the story of how one parent, “called in tears in need of some immediate help dealing with their child, she was grateful and relieved to know that a trained staff member was available to help and comforted when she heard a live voice and not a recording.”

Schools Donations

“As they delivered meals to the families with the greatest need, our staff was hearing that the families needed more than just food. They were also in desperate need of things like toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and laundry detergent,” reports Nancy Shore, Ann Arbor Public Schools Strategic Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator. By working with AAPS families, vendors, and partners, the district has been able to help fill these needs.

“The generosity of the community has been tremendous, but we still struggle to keep up,” Shore explains. Shore was able to secure a donation of 450 rolls of toilet paper from the district’s paper goods vendor—but all were gone in just one day of food distribution.

“Of course the families we are supporting are overjoyed for the help,” notes Shore, “but what I didn’t expect is how much it would mean for the donors. People appreciate being able to help—it gives them a sense of purpose to give back.” To donate, visit  or email

–Chuck Warpehoski