Our top COVID-19 headlines of 2021

ANN ARBOR, me. – 2021 was a very long year for Ann Arbor.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects, including vaccination regulations, school closings, staff shortages, mask rules, vaccination stations, restaurant closings and more.

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

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

1. UM Disease Expert Answers: Can the US Achieve Herd Immunity?

As of May: With COVID-19 vaccination rates slowing in mid-2021, the University of Michigan released a Q&A with the School of Public Health Research’s Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Abram Wagner.

He answered questions about herd immunity and explained how to reach community members who are reluctant to get the vaccination. Read the questions and answers here.

2. University of Michigan study: Blocking existing drugs, reducing COVID in cells

As of August: After treating human lung cells derived from stem cells with 1,400 drugs and compounds, University of Michigan researchers found 17 drug candidates that effectively block or reduce SARS-CoV-2 in cells.


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

3. Here are the Michigan soccer mask rules for fans heading to the big house this fall

As of August: As COVID cases increased last year, fans in the Big House were encouraged but not required to wear masks in different rooms during soccer games. Here are all the rules.

4. Michigan Athletics paused – athletes, coaches, team members must be quarantined

As of January: In early 2021, all sports programs at the University of Michigan were put on a 14-day break after cases of variant B.1.1.7 of the coronavirus were confirmed within the athletics department.

Athletes, coaches and team members have been asked to isolate or quarantine immediately until further notice. See what was said then.


5. Michigan Medicine Expands Eligibility to System-Wide COVID-19 Vaccination

As of January: In the early days of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, Michigan Medicine expanded its priority group for Phase 1A COVID-19 vaccines based on recommendations from the state. See which new groups have been added.

5. Three Ann Arbor schools will be dismantled Friday due to staff shortages

As of October: The ongoing pandemic has created bottlenecks of all kinds, including school staff.

Forsythe Middle School and Huron and Skyline High Schools suddenly had to be completely dismantled in October due to a lack of staff. Jeanice Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor public schools, said the decision was due to “high levels of illness and staff absenteeism in all AAPS”. Find out more about the decision here.


7th UM study: Natural COVID infections protect against reinfection, two variants

As of December: New research from the University of Michigan found that natural COVID-19 infections helped protect people from re-infection from the Delta and Gamma variants.

Researchers who surveyed a community in Nicaragua found that antibodies acquired through natural infection offered individuals a 69 percent rate of protection from re-infection. Read about the study here.

8. VA in Ann Arbor Says Veteran Makes Too Much Money To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

As of March: When Navy World War II veteran Don Schimmel, 93, wanted to be vaccinated against COVID-19, he was told he couldn’t.

“You are being refused entry to medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs above income limit,” a VA denial said. See how the situation developed.


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

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

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

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

From July: Before the start of the school year 2021/22, students, employees, lecturers and all other employees must be vaccinated by the end of August.

The mandate applied to all three UM campuses and Michigan Medicine. See coverage from Local 4 here.

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