Happy Monday, Lookout readers,

No big surprise to see more beautiful weather today and this past weekend. Expect that to continue throughout the week, though it may be a bit hot for some people’s tastes tomorrow.

We’re coming back at you today with some COVID-related news, as if there hasn’t been plenty of that for the last few years. Liza Monroy details her family’s firsthand experience with the notorious Omicron variant. Also, Hillary found some interesting news about brown bears.

Let’s start out with those…

The Omicron experience: Families with young children — including mine — still face pandemic purgatories

Liza Monroy and family in bed
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

The pandemic persists: In the first of a two-part series on parenting through Omicron, Liza Monroy writes about the jarring experience of COVID hitting her Santa Cruz household, the effects of a “lost month” on her family, and the lingering impact. Liza shares her family’s story.

PREVIOUSLY: I accidentally married a parenting expert: What my special education-teacher husband taught me about being a mom

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Surprise discovery: All living brown bears share polar bear ancestry, UCSC scientists find

A visiting nurse prepares a syringe to be used for the vaccine.
Credit: Via UC Santa Cruz

Breakthrough: Bruno, a 100,000-year-old polar bear, is at the root of a breakthrough understanding. UC Santa Cruz scientists Beth Shapiro and Ming-Shan Wang led the study that shows that interbreeding of the ancestors of polar bears and brown bears leaves an imprint on brown bears to this day. Check out Hillary’s story.

Shelter closures show new homeless response plan in midstream

An overhead shot of the National Guard Armory

Changing landscape: Santa Cruz County-run programs at the Oceana Inn and the National Guard Armory will close their doors by the end of this month, amounting to a net loss of 252 of the county’s 638 total shelter beds. Says county Housing for Health director Robert Ratner, “We have to stop taking our money and investing it in one-time-only things; we have to corral the limited money we have invested in a strategic way.” Grace has the story.

HOUSING: Cities, county and UC Santa Cruz outline their housing plans

California lawmakers to investigate steep gas prices, accuse oil companies of ‘ripping off’ motorists

David Pippenger puts gas into his rental car at a Mobil gas station in Westchester in May.
Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Rising prices: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has created a special committee to investigate high gas prices and look into possible action by the state. More from the L.A. Times here.

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ICYMI: Mosaic project Watsonville Brillante aims to represent city’s entire cultural heritage

A sexual abuse victim points to the photos of Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Connecting the residents: Transforming an anonymous parking garage, artists led by Kathleen Crocetti are creating a gigantic, quiltlike representation of Watsonville’s human story, a portrait of the city’s soul created with small pieces of ceramic tile. This “mind-blowing” work might be the most ambitious public art project in Santa Cruz County’s history. Wallace looks into it.

ASK LOOKOUT: Did the Virgin Mary actually once visit a lake in Watsonville?

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More from here & elsewhere

Santa Cruz shelter offering $1k reward for arrest of person who set illegal leg traps (KSBW)
Salinas Rodeo kick-off concert canceled (KION)
Another Bay Area heat wave promises scorching temperatures, poor air quality (Sentinel)
COVID vaccines ready for littlest arms starting Tuesday (Mercury)
Biden considers a gas tax holiday. How much would it really help? (USA Today)
The Warriors’ latest title might be their most surprising (FiveThirtyEight)

And that’s how we kick off the official first week of summer. Have a good evening, and we’ll be back tomorrow.

Max Chun

Max Chun is the general-assignment correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Max’s position has pulled him in many different directions, seeing him cover development, COVID, the opioid crisis, labor, courts...