Quick Take:

The social and economic health of Santa Cruz County depends on the empowerment that comes when everyone has a place to...

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, August 10 and it will be mostly cloudy in the morning, gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 70.

County officials announced yesterday that two people died of COVID-related complications last week, becoming the first fatalities from the virus in months. This comes as cases, hospitalizations and deaths are surging once again, nearly 1.5 years after the pandemic first took hold in the United States. With back-to-school looming, lawmakers and teachers unions have not yet mandated vaccinations for teachers — a move that is being criticized by some.

Meanwhile, the Dixie Fire is nearing half a million acres and crews are still working to contain it. And a dire report released yesterday by the United Nations will mean the use of fossil fuels will need to end much sooner than previously projected. Finally, if you noticed the Red tides along the Santa Cruz County coastline, you might be interested in learning more about it. Our staff has you covered.

But first, our Grace Stetson has an explainer for you on an issue that impacts virtually everyone in the county — affordability:

YIMBYism & Santa Cruz: Those behind affordability movement will show what they mean by ‘missing middle’

Elizabeth Conlan and Henry Hooker are among the leaders of Santa Cruz YIMBY.
Elizabeth Conlan and Henry Hooker are among the leaders of Santa Cruz YIMBY. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

With affordable housing top of mind for everyone who lives in Santa Cruz County, local YIMBYs want to spread the word about their vision for what that looks like. To that end, they are throwing a one-hour downtown Santa Cruz walking tour Wednesday night to spotlight what they call the “missing middle.” But what does YIMBY or “missing middle” even mean? Our Grace Stetson breaks it down for you here.

LISTEN: This week’s episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” by the LA Times and CalMatters, delves into the question of why it’s so difficult to get major housing bills passed in the state legislature. You can listen to the podcast on SoundCloud here.

Dr. Kathryn Melamed and a team of doctors and nurses tend to a COVID-19 patient at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Two unvaccinated people in their 70s died last week, becoming the first confirmed COVID-related deaths in Santa Cruz County in months. “With the widespread availability of vaccines, we had hoped to avoid further deaths and serious illnesses due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, that is not happening,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said in part. Read more from our Neil Strebig here.

California lawmakers and teachers unions stop short of a vaccine mandate

Teacher Bob Anderson speaks at the front of his classroom to students sitting at desks.

Even as the delta variant causes spikes in COVID-19 case numbers just weeks before the new school year, state lawmakers have yet to issue a vaccine mandate for public school teachers. The California Teachers Association is strongly supporting vaccines but has so far stopped short of endorsing a vaccination mandate for all public school teachers. Read more here.

ANOTHER COVID READ: Delta variant is sucking the joy out of back-to-school 2021 (LA Times)

Environmental beat

A visiting nurse prepares a syringe to be used for the vaccine.
Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

‘Not uncommon’ but little understood: Red tides have returned to Santa Cruz beaches — what to know: If you saw an odd reddish tint in the water along the beaches of Santa Cruz County, you weren’t imagining it. The red tide is back with a vengeance. Better known to scientists as harmful algal blooms, red tides can cause irritation of the eyes, ears or nose for those with certain conditions in those areas but are generally not harmful. Read more from our staff report here.

A new Indigenous-led student movement in Northern California is protecting sacred waters: In the midst of the state’s water crisis, Native-led school curricula in Northern California are empowering youth to fight for the future of their waterways. One of the curriculum’s focal points is the integrity of California’s rivers and the ongoing threats to salmon, currently facing extinction from climate change and water diversions. Read more from our partners at Civil Eats here.

READ ALSO: Ways to save water during the drought — and whether it’s worth doing at all (LA Times)

Smoke stacks
Credit: via Pixabay

The scary new climate report means fossil fuel use needs to start falling, fast: The global climate report released yesterday offered a dramatic reminder of the need to slash the use of fossil fuels — not just by 2050, when many corporations have pledged to stop scorching the planet, but in the next few years. “There’s a mountain of change between where we are here and where we would need to be,” one climate scientist said. Read the full story here.

DIXIE FIRE LATEST: Blaze nears half a million acres, containment is still weeks away (LA Times)

Around the county…

After getting ‘spooked’ by stranger, woman drives off cliff near Lighthouse Point (LA Times)

All properties enrolled in government-sponsored debris removal cleared (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Suspect arrested in connection to Watsonville double stabbing (KION-TV)

Thousands show to Watsonville Strawberry Festival’s return (The Pajaronian)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a great day!
Tulsi Kamath

Follow Tulsi Kamath on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. Tulsi Kamath was the originator of Lookout Santa Cruz’s flagship Morning Lookout newsletter and its original Managing Editor.