Hey, Santa Cruz — we outlasted another Monday! Thanks for reading our evening look at the day’s happenings in the pandemic. This one is bittersweet.

There’s hope in the higher-ed realm today, where we learned UC Santa Cruz — and the entire UC system — plans to get students back on campus in the fall. There’s also hope for the future in our reporting about local private schools’ success with in-person learning in the fall.

Here’s the bitter part: New county numbers show one in five people who were tested for COVID-19 over the past two weeks tested positive. That 20% rate is an all-time high — so high that it caused some county officials to question its accuracy, though there have been no official changes long after the sun set. What’s more, the Bay Area region — which went back into stay-at-home mode when ICU capacity dipped below 15% — is now seeing that metric at just 0.7%. That’s nearly as bad as the worst-hit counties in Southern California.

Let’s dive in to Bittersweet Monday now. And be sure to tell your friends and family to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here, or text “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

Back to campus in the fall

Aerial view looking out across the UCSC campus and Santa Cruz.
Aerial view looking out across the UCSC campus and Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

UC leadership has decided to move forward with plans that bring students back to campus in the fall and return them mostly to classroom learning. While a lot of things have to go right between now and then, officials are hopeful it can happen.


COVID K-12: Lessons learned that will come in handy

Naptime at Gateway School.
Naptime at Gateway School. Credit: Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz

We are probably a long way from public schools getting back to any former semblance of normal in-person learning, but local private schools waded into the deep end in the fall. They graded out pretty well. Will it become more challenging now that COVID-19 rates are surging locally?


Not a good day in ‘COVID Today’

Cardiovascular specialist Danny Combs
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Our Mallory Pickett dives into some of the reasons the positivity rate is up and has the latest on case rates and deaths countywide. If the positivity rate gets adjusted, we’ll be sure to let you know in our COVID Today blog.



At least 9 U.S. states have the U.K. coronavirus strain, a number that’s sure to grow (LA Times)
How will the self-employed get vaccinated? There’s no clear answer (LA Times)
When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine? California trying to ramp up distribution (LA Times)

ASK LOOKOUT: We answer your questions . . .

Q: How well protected are people who have had the first of the two vaccinations? i.e. Is there ANY protection before they get the second one, or are they only protected after both shots? — Dianne Dryer

A: According to the FDA’s analysis of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, a single injection of either of the two-dose vaccines appears to provide strong protection against the coronavirus. While Pfizer says the efficacy of its vaccine after the first dose is about 52 percent, some experts estimate it to be much higher. In effect, the second shot acts as a booster.

Have a question for us to try and get answered? Submit it here.

Covid 2021: The Experts Answer Your Questions

What: A free community conversation about COVID-19
When: Thursday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m.
Where: Lookout will offer simultaneous Spanish interpretation, through a separate Zoom audio channel. Register here

See you tomorrow and do not forget to sign up for this great event above.

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor

Follow Mark Conley on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Mark joins Lookout after 14 years at the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, where he served as Deputy Sports Editor on a staff that covered three...