Hey, it’s Mark and we’re headed into a holiday weekend Friday.

But first, some vaccine shenanigans. Apparently a sign-up link for the county-run Fairgrounds clinic held Wednesday — intended for county residents 65-plus and particularly those from the Pajaro Valley — had people from all over the state signing up.

The other big news out of the Zoom presser: That late March surge that health officials have mentioned previously is still a major concern — even as our local case positivity numbers continue to drop.

As usual, please tell your peeps to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here — or by just texting “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

And now on to this evening’s headlines…

‘Gaming the system’ at the Fairgrounds

The drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.
The drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

VACCINE WATCH: Hundreds of people under the age of 65 — and some from as far away as Los Angeles — signed up for the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds vaccination clinic, causing “mass confusion and panic.” Mallory Pickett has the details here.

Health officials caution further about ‘March surge’

Nurse Cherry Costales prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccine at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles.
Nurse Cherry Costales prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccine at St. John’s Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

COVID TODAY: Health officials are lauding the continued decrease in active cases and hospitalizations in Santa Cruz County, but they’re warning that national and local models forecast an intense surge in mid-March, driven largely by new, likely more transmissible variants. Here’s Mallory with more on what that means for the days ahead.

More from here & elsewhere

The South African coronavirus variant is in California. What you need to know (LAT)
April could see ‘open season’ on COVID-19 vaccines, Fauci says (LAT)
When will kids be able to get COVID-19 vaccines? (CBS)
Biden Administration Recruits Community Clinics To Help Solve Vaccine Inequities (NPR)
US pharmacies could administer up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine a month. Here’s how (CNN)
Trump’s Covid-19 condition was so concerning that doctors considered putting him on a ventilator, source confirms (CNN)
Officers at dorms, outdoor exercise ban: UC Berkeley extends dorm lockdown with stricter mandates (SF Gate)

BE THERE: Our pandemic life event

Lookout’s COVID 2021 series of events continues, with our free “People in the Pandemic” event set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Like all of us, our panelists — Yoso Wellness Spa owner Jennalee Dahlen, Santa Cruz County EMS medical director Dr. David Ghilarducci, comedian and events producer DNA and Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos — have seen their ups and downs because of COVID-19. Lookout journalists will talk with each of them individually and also as a group. Between medicine, religion, wellness and comedy, we’re anticipating a lively discussion in which you’ll be able to ask questions via Zoom chat. To read more about and register for the event, click here.

In light of the Fairgrounds situation, I’d love to hear your thoughts on vaccine distribution and equity. Send me your best 150 words . . . ready, set, go.

And 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...