More local COVID variant cases discovered; AADL’s top items of 2020; one-on-one with Eli Savit

Microbiologist Marielle Bedotto-Buffet prepares samples at the University Hospital Institute for Infectious Diseases in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday Jan. 13, 2021, to study the highly contagious COVID-19 variant that has been discovered in the UK. France’s government scientific adviser is expressing strong concern over the variant of the coronavirus that is circulating widely in the U.K. and is now spreading in France. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Happy Friday!

Can you believe we’re heading into the last week of January? I’m still getting used to saying “2021″ and it feels like it’s flying by.

Two more cases of the COVID variant have been discovered in Washtenaw County. The individuals were in close contact with the first person to test positive for the variant in the state after she traveled to the UK. All three individuals are also linked to the University of Michigan, which is said to be cooperating with county and state officials to limit the spread.

More information on where things stand with local vaccination efforts below.

Have a great (and safe) weekend.

- Meredith (@meredith_A4)

What’s been happening:

💉 The Washtenaw County Health Department began postponing vaccination appointments this week for some residents due to low supply, pushing them back 3-4 weeks. Meanwhile, Michigan Medicine announced it would start vaccinating some patients 65 years and older this week after receiving another shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. (A4)

👎 Some Michiganders are using loopholes and connections to jump to the front of the line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the state’s most high risk individuals. (Detroit Free Press)

🚨 The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday a new policy aimed at combatting racial profiling. (A4)

💵 The city of Ann Arbor is hiring a new Chief Financial Officer. (A4)

🎦 The Michigan and State theaters announced they will delay fully opening until April for “reasons of safety.” (A4)

🎒 U-M economists release five things to watch (and watch out for) during President Biden’s first year. (A4)

💻 Literati Bookstore will host virtual events with Bill Gates and Simon Winchester as part of an ongoing series. (A4)

❤️️ This story about local residents banding together to furnish apartments for community members exiting homelessness will warm your heart. (A4)

Good to know:

🔬 It’s one of my favorite lists to browse each year: Ann Arbor District Library’s most requested items. Here’s what was hot in 2020. (A4)

🐈 Cuteness alert: Little Paws Story Time is back at Humane Society of Huron Valley. (A4)

🌲 Staff at U-M’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum have been hard at work crafting outdoor activity guides for children during their first winter in quarantine -- including an outdoor obstacle course. (A4)

⛸ Staying outside, Vets Park and Buhr Park ice arenas have resumed limited operations. (A4)

Feature interview of the week:

“I am a believer in the justice system based on what you did and not who you are.”

- Eli Savit, Washtenaw County Prosecutor

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