Quick Take:

Two persons, both unvaccinated and in their 70s, died last week from COVID-19 symptoms. They were the first confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in Santa Cruz County since June 1.

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Department announced two individuals died on Aug. 2 with COVID-19 related illnesses. They are the 208th and 209th COVID-related deaths in the county and the first since June 1.

Both persons were unvaccinated and in their 70s, according to a news release.

“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, and our health care system is being impacted once more,” County Health Officer Gail Newel said in a statement.

Last week, the county reported that Delta variant cases have doubled within the county from 14 to 30. Additionally, vaccine rates over the past two weeks have also increased. Nearly 66% of the total population in Santa Cruz County has been fully vaccinated, according to county health data.

At the moment, the county has not implemented a mask mandate nor is the county requiring proof of vaccination. Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals and remain a recommendation for vaccinated individuals, and businesses are permitted to institute stricter entrance requirements such as vaccine passports.

“Vaccines are effective at preventing or minimizing COVID illnesses. If you have loved ones who have not been vaccinated, please urge them to do so as quickly as possible,” Newel said.

Follow Neil Strebig on: Twitter. A chef-turned-journalist, Neil has a track record for covering the hospitality industry and local businesses. Neil joins Lookout as a Report for America Corps member. Previously...