Hey, everyone, Happy Short Work Week Tuesday. Despite the sluggishness that comes from such back-to-work days, there were a few juicy virus tidbits to emerge:

➤ Our county’s COVID trend line continues unabated in a positive direction, and the very real possibility of a return to the red tier remains on course.
➤ As the vaccine distribution total rolled right past the 50,000 mark, that tells us that 20% of county residents have now received their first doses.
➤ Yet, while that number might sound good, it doesn’t change the fact that not enough vaccine is rolling into the county, which explains why Sutter/PAMF is no longer booking any appointments for the time being.

Tell everyone you know to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here, the latter just by texting “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

And now on to this evening’s headlines…

Seeing red? So where’s the appointments?

County map

COVID TODAY: The adjusted case rate is the only metric Santa Cruz County needs to see drop in order to become eligible to fall into the red tier, where restaurants, gyms, move theaters and schools (or at least school sports) would be able to reopen with certain safety measures put into place. Meanwhile, the news that the first-dose vaccination rate for the county had hit 20% was offset by the stark reality of just how hard it continues to be in opening up the supply chain. Mallory Pickett with the rundown here.


PANDEMIC LIFE: Here’s some yin and some yang for you. Comedian, author and all-around Santa Cruz character Fred Reiss has been struggling through the pandemic in ways more extreme than many, the most recent example his survival of a fifth bout with cancer in the last seven years. Wallace Baine with The Here & Now. Meanwhile, Ben Lomond favorite Casa Nostra, like so many other establishments, is surviving this pandemic economy by expanding. A second restaurant opened up Tuesday in Scotts Valley. Read about that here.

The original Casa Nostra in Ben Lomond and the second location in Scotts Valley.
The original Casa Nostra in Ben Lomond and the second location in Scotts Valley. Credit: Via Casa Nostra

If you have a pandemic life story to tell us, you can submit yours here.

PLUS: Sign up for “People in the Pandemic,” the next in our COVID 2021 event series, here. IT’s FREE. Besides a star-studded panel, you get to meet Lookout Managing Editor Tulsi Kamath and me.

ICYMI, A LOOKOUT SPECIAL REPORT: The company that bought Watsonville Community Hospital in 2019, Halsen Healthcare, abruptly stopped managing it last month. The new manager, Prospect Medical Holdings, has a troubled history and is under congressional scrutiny. And a third party — a medical investment company — owns the hospital land and building. So who actually is in charge of the 106-bed medical center, and what does this all mean for patients and the community? Read our Lookout special report here.

More from here & elsewhere

Mardi Gras house

State fines Kaiser $499K for COVID worker safety violations (CalMatters)
Mardi Gras parades got canceled by Covid-19. So people in New Orleans turned their houses into floats (CNN)
More than 4,000 people in Santa Clara County don’t show up for vaccines (SF Gate)
Fauci more cautious on COVID-19 vaccine rollout, pushing ‘open season’ to late May or June (LA Times)
Global vaccine gaps could leave Americans vulnerable despite Biden’s best efforts (LA Times)
Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum says he’s still feeling effects of COVID-19 (ESPN)
Tennis crowds able to return at Australian Open as Melbourne ends COVID-19 lockdown (ESPN)
In Tuskegee, Painful History Shadows Efforts To Vaccinate African Americans (NPR)

ASK LOOKOUT…you ask, we try to answer

Q: What’s the verdict on pain relievers and the vaccine? — Sarah G

A: Timely question. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced Tuesday that it’s urging people not to take pain relievers like Tylenol or Motrin before getting a COVID-19 vaccination. They say there is concern that taking such medications before the vaccination could dampen the body’s immune response. After is fine; but not before.

Have a question for us to try and get answered? Submit it here or just reply to this email. Want to see all of the previous questions and answers? Go here.

See you all tomorrow!

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...