Quick Take:

The State of California, specifically the Public Utilities Commission, has proposed a set of regulatory changes – NEM 3...

Hello, hello, hello! It’s Tuesday, Feb. 8, and the forecast calls for another sunny, warm day around Santa Cruz County, with highs in the low 70s — and heading upward as the week rolls along.

Before we get to the headlines, Lookout has some big new series on tap. First up, Wallace Baine.

A promotional image for the Icons of Santa Cruz series

COMING FRIDAY: Who are the people and what are the places or things that are immediately identifiable with Santa Cruz County? What are the touchstones that symbolize or represent home for locals? In our new ongoing series, Lookout’s Wallace Baine considers all those icons of the visible environment across the county — from buildings to murals, from sculptures to logos — and discovers the stories that connect them to us all. Up first on Friday: That dashing young man who stands on his pedestal gazing pensively was designed as a tribute to all surfers. But he’s become the mascot for all of Santa Cruz.

Back to today, we’ve got a look at where Santa Cruz County stands on masking with the state’s mandate set to expire next week, plus the future of Watsonville Community Hospital and who’s getting left behind by California’s new COVID-19 sick leave law. We’ll cover all that and then some as we hit the headlines:

What’s next for Santa Cruz masking guidelines?

Inside mask wearing in question
Zoe Meroney buys clothing from Christopher Castaneda at the Designer Sample Store in Santa Monica on May 4. New CDC guidelines say vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most places. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times) Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

The state’s indoor mask mandate is set to expire Feb. 15, but whether Santa Cruz County follows suit depends on what health chief Gail Newel sees in the local data. Read what officials told Lookout’s Max Chun.

COVID IN SANTA CRUZ: Data confirms county’s Omicron impact: Quarter of all known cases occurred within last 21 days (Lookout)

Health officials confident a district will save Watsonville Community Hospital

Watsonville Community Hospital.
Watsonville Community Hospital. Credit: Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County and health care officials hope a health care district, a government entity with a complicated and not always successful history in the state, will keep the struggling facility from closing. Lookout’s Hillary Ojeda explains what’s ahead.

EARLIER: Laird advances bill to create health care district, another step in Watsonville Community Hospital transition (Lookout)

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As mask mandates ease, should California schools be next?

A child in a mask does work at school
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

The next step for schools is under discussion with indoor masking set to ease on Feb. 15 in many settings in California. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times examine the situation.

LOCAL EDUCATION SCENE: How Santa Cruz County’s public schools have avoided the higher absence rates, sickouts seen elsewhere (Lookout)

New COVID sick leave would leave out at least 1 in 4 California workers

Luna Walker bags chocolate croissants for patrons at Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley
Luna Walker bags chocolate croissants for patrons at Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley. Credit: Martin do Nascimento / CalMatters

California lawmakers plan to bring back COVID supplemental paid sick leave, but it won’t cover small business workers. Our partners at CalMatters explain.

FROM MONDAY: New COVID-19 sick pay for California workers approved by lawmakers (Los Angeles Times)

Ready for another pandemic malady?

A photo illustration of a man looking out a window at a coronavirus
Credit: Via Pixabay

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has come with a barrage of daily choices that have many of us complaining of a sort of brain freeze. That exhaustion is real, and it’s got a name: “decision fatigue.” Our partners at Kaiser Health News talk to an expert.

TRACKING THE VIRUS: Flushing COVID away: Santa Cruz back to wastewater testing in hopes of creating better virus surveillance (Lookout)


Around the county …

Santa Cruz County’s first Latino superior court judge retires (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Man accused of killing Santa Cruz deputy to plead guilty in killing of federal officer (KSBW-TV)
Feds trying to relocate flock of turkeys wreaking havoc at Mountain View airfield (San Jose Mercury News)
Wealthy Bay Area town says it was very wrong about mountain lions blocking new housing (SFGate)

OK, you’re up to date and ready to tackle Tuesday. Keep tabs throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check out our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center to get Lily Belli’s latest food and drink newsletter later today, plus breaking news alerts and more.

If you’re not already, consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

And I can’t sign off without wishing my son, Jack, a very happy 13th birthday. Time flies, folks, so enjoy this beautiful day and everything it brings!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

A veteran jack-of-all-trades journalist who is Lookout’s copy editor, writes and compiles Morning Lookout newsletter and produces Lookout’s other editorial newsletters and helps run Lookout’s social...