Quick Take:

The show must go on: the performing arts have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cabrillo’s Dance,...

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, Jan. 28. It’s going to be another rainy day with a high of 53.

Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital braved the cold and rain yesterday to protest, for the third time, the hospital’s consideration of a waiver that dissenters say might endanger patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, what was once considered a far-fetched right-wing effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom, is gaining legs, and we have a story from our content partner, CalMatters, explaining the effort and the key players behind it.

But first, for the second night in a row, rain from the strands of the “atmospheric river” drenched the Santa Cruz area but caused seemingly no damage. I pulled another all-nighter monitoring conditions and have the latest for you in our storm watch story here. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, sign up for our Breaking News Text Alerts to get the latest news and weather updates straight to your phone. You also can sign up by texting “Breaking” to (831) 298-8906.

Let’s dive in:

Weather update: Over a 12-hour period overnight, the National Weather Service told Lookout that coastal areas in Santa Cruz County received between 0.5 to 1.5 inches of rain, with higher elevations of the Santa Cruz Mountains receiving 1.75 to 2.5 inches of rain. Steady rain will continue for portions of the South Bay and Central Coast for much of today as the atmospheric river slowly leaves the region. Read more of the latest weather forecast here.

Damage: Cal Fire told Lookout that they had received no damage reports in Santa Cruz County overnight but that “crews would be able to assess the area more fully once it’s light.” Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz Fire Department Dispatch automatic Twitter handle showed the department has received some reports of localized flooding around the area.

Read all the latest weather updates in our STORM WATCH story here.

CZU burn scar is geologically different — and that might be reducing debris-flow risk: With two days of rain over the Santa Cruz area, no significant flows of earth have yet been observed. This has officials re-thinking whether the Santa Cruz Mountains might be less vulnerable to debris flows than previously thought — though they’re still studying the issue and advising caution. Read more about what this expert and others think in a debris flow deep dive story from our Mallory Pickett here.

Mudslides in Monterey County, snow in the Sierra Nevadas: While Santa Cruz County was largely spared damage and flooding from the atmospheric river, there were mudslides Wednesday near Salinas and along Highway 1 in Big Sur. Read more about the storm’s regional impact from our partner the LA Times here.

COVID 2021 updates

Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital demonstrate outside the hospital, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021.
Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital demonstrate outside the hospital, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Credit: Provided

#BOLO: Be On the Lookout for COVID news today as we’ll be carrying the live broadcast of Santa Cruz County Health Officials’ update on the coronavirus at 2 p.m. on our website. Tune in, and stay tuned for coverage afterward.

Watsonville nurses take to streets again, ask hospital to rescind staffing-ratio waiver: Braving rain and cold weather, more than a dozen nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital took to the streets again Wednesday, asking a new hospital management company to beef up staffing and reject potential measures that would allow more patients to be assigned to each nurse. The demonstration was the latest in a string of public actions taken by the nurses in the last couple months as they have voiced concern over a staffing-ratio state waiver that allows hospitals to increase the workload of nurses. Our Patrick Riley has more here.

Local COVID Snapshot: Active cases and the rate of those testing positive for COVID-19 declined slightly Wednesday as Santa Cruz County continued to show signs of disease spread slowing. The latest:

  • Active cases: Decreased again from 2,319 to 2,118. This means more people are recovering than being diagnosed, as cases are moved from active to recovered 21 days after diagnosis.
  • Positivity rate: The 14-day average positivity rate declined slightly, and is now 13.2%. However this local value remains well above the state average, which is 8.8%.
  • Deaths: Seven new deaths were confirmed, bringing the total to 143 locally. These deaths occurred on various days between Dec. 19 and Jan. 25.

Read more in our COVID TODAY updates here.

Blue Shield will oversee California’s troubled COVID-19 vaccination effort: Following a shaky rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, advisers to Gov. Gavin Newsom have struck a far-reaching agreement with Blue Shield of California for the health insurance company to oversee the distribution of vaccine doses to counties, pharmacies and private health care providers. The decision marks a sharp turn away from a more decentralized process that has been criticized for inconsistency across regions of the state and sluggishness in its effort to vaccinate Californians. Read more from our content partner the LA Times here.

A Non-COVID read: ‘Recall Gavin Newsom’: Everything to know about who’s behind it, what’s next

What began as a far-fetched effort by Republican activists has turned into a credible campaign attempting to throw Newsom out of office.The coronavirus pandemic shifted California’s political landscape in two significant ways: It prompted a judge to give recall supporters more time to collect signatures — keeping their campaign alive long enough to gain momentum — and it led Newsom to enact a slew of new restrictions to curb the spread of the virus that have frustrated some Californians and energized recall backers. Read more from our content partner CalMatters here.

Around the county . . .

Santa Cruz schedule released; Warriors open season Feb. 10 against Ignite (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Review: Beauregard Vineyards’ Chardonnay 2018 Worthy of a Special Occasion (Good Times)

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
Managing Editor

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.