wdiv logo

A4 Top 10: Our top COVID-19 headlines of 2021

A healthcare worker at St. Joe's Ann Arbor holds up a sticker that says "I Got Vaccinated" as COVID-19 vaccinations get underway. (St. Joe's Ann Arbor)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – 2021 has been a very long year for Ann Arbor.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had wide-reaching impacts including vaccine mandates, school closures, staffing shortages, mask rules, vaccination sites, restaurant closures and more.

We learned a lot about the coronavirus, its variants and how it affects our community this year.

Here are the top 10 COVID-19 related headlines of 2021

1. U-M disease expert answers: Can US reach herd immunity?

From May: As COVID-19 vaccination rates slowed down in mid-2021, the University of Michigan released a Q&A with School of Public Health Research assistant professor of epidemiology Abram Wagner.

He answered questions about herd immunity and explained how to reach community members hesitant to get the jab. Read the Q&A here.

2. University of Michigan study: Existing drugs block, reduce COVID in cells

From August: After treating stem cell-derived human lung cells with 1,400 drugs and compounds, researchers at the University of Michigan found 17 candidate compounds that are effective in blocking or reducing SARS-CoV-2 in cells.

Of the 17 FDA-approved drugs, ten were newly recognized and seven had already previously been identified. Read more here.

3. Here are the Michigan football mask rules for fans going to the Big House this fall

From August: As COVID cases increased this past year, fans at the Big House were encouraged, but not required, to wear masks in different spaces during football games. Here are all the rules.

4. Michigan Athletics put on pause -- Athletes, coaches, team-staff asked to quarantine

From January: Earlier in 2021, all athletic programs at the University of Michigan were put on a 14-day pause after cases of the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus were confirmed within the Athletic Department.

Athletes, coaches and team staff were told to immediately isolate or quarantine until further notice. See what was said at the time.

5. Michigan Medicine expands eligibility for systemwide COVID-19 vaccination

From January: In the early days of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, Michigan Medicine expanded its Phase 1A COVID-19 vaccine priority group based on recommendations from the state. See which new groups were included.

5. Three Ann Arbor schools to go remote on Friday amid staffing shortage

From October: The ongoing pandemic has created all kinds of shortages, including school staffing.

Forsythe Middle School and Huron and Skyline high schools were suddenly forced to go fully remote due to a lack of staff in October. Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift said the decision was due to “high levels of staff illness and absences across all of the AAPS.” Learn more about the decision here.

7. U-M study: Natural COVID infections provide protection against reinfection, two variants

From December: New research by the University of Michigan found that natural COVID-19 infections helped protect individuals from reinfection from the delta and gamma variants.

Researchers studying a community in Nicaragua found that antibodies acquired by natural infection gave individuals a 69 percent protection rate against reinfection. Read about the study here.

8. VA in Ann Arbor says veteran makes too much money to receive COVID-19 vaccine

From March: When Navy World War II veteran Don Schimmel, 93, wanted to get vaccinated for COVID-19, he was told he couldn’t.

“You are rejected, over the income limit to receive medical treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs,” stated a rejection letter from the VA. See how the situation unfolded.

9. Washtenaw County, St. Joe’s Ann Arbor open mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Eastern Michigan University

From February: Washtenaw County Health Department and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor joined together to open up a massive COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Eastern Michigan University.

The clinic could vaccinate up to 1,000 people in a day. Take a look inside.

10. University of Michigan: All students, faculty, staff must be vaccinated by Aug. 30

From July: Before the start of the 2021-22 school year, the University of Michigan said students, staff, faculty and all other employees must be vaccinated by the end of August.

The mandate applied to all three U-M campuses and Michigan Medicine. See Local 4′s coverage here.


About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.