COVID PM

COVID PM: Stay-home order extended, Bay Area hospitals buckling

Happy Friday, folks! Welcome to our second edition of COVID PM, your evening read to help you make sense of the day’s developments with the pandemic.

The quick list from our staff: Regional ICU availability at 3% paints a “long haul” picture for Santa Cruz and the Bay Area when it comes to staying home . . . the future of the downtown Santa Cruz is very much in flux, so we decided to see how business owners are holding up . . . the Santa Cruz Warriors will play hoops this season, just not in front of giddy fans below Beach Hill.

The quick list from our content partners: CalMatters sizes up Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $227 billion spending plan for the coming year . . . and the LA Times reports on the increasing turmoil at Bay Area ICUs, including at Kaiser San Jose hospital, which drew a fine as its COVID-19 outbreak grows.

There’s a lot in today’s COVID PM, and we hope you’ll share it with friends by sending them this link to sign up. Also, anyone can get our COVID alerts — including a link to this newsletter each day — on their phones by texting “Covid” to (831) 508-7524. Please share this number widely.

Now, to the headlines . . .

With only 3% ICU capacity left, stay-home order remains in effect

Hospital staff in protective gear move a gurney and monitors.

As the last day of the Bay Area Regional stay-home order came and went, it’s a safe bet Santa Cruz County and other Bay Area counties are in for the long haul: As of today, the ICU capacity for the region is at 3%, the lowest it’s been since the order was triggered. Our Mallory Pickett asks county health officer Gail Newel for her thoughts.

READ MALLORY’S COVID TODAY UPDATE HERE

Can downtown survive this?

Palace Art & Office Supply exterior.
The shuttered storefront of Palace Art & Office Supply, which is leaving downtown Santa Cruz after 71 years and consolidating operations in Capitola.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

When an institution like Palace Arts retrenches, as it did in the past week, concerns rise to a new level. But even though 29 businesses have closed in downtown Santa Cruz since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 10 new ones have sprung up. Our Wallace Baine reports that some local business folks are choosing to stay optimistic.

READ WALLACE’S STORY HERE

Seeing the Sea Dubs from afar

There will be no Santa Cruz Warriors action at Kaiser Permanente Arena for the foreseeable future.
(Courtesy Santa Cruz Warriors)

Since the NBA’s experiment went off without a hitch — except for the dreaded Lakers winning the title — the G League hopes to weather the COVID-19 storm in the same contained, fan-less environment in Orlando. That means a season for the Santa Cruz Warriors, just not at Kaiser Permanente Arena.

READ OUR LOOKOUT STORY HERE

More than any California budget ever

The governor's budget proposal
The governor’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year clocks in at more than $227 billion. Illustration by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters; iStock

Despite — or maybe because — of the last 10 months of arrested economic activity and unchecked viral contagion, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a record-breaking $227 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

READ THE CALMATTERS STORY HERE

ALSO FROM AROUND CALIFORNIA

COVID-19 continues to pummel crowded Bay Area ERs and things could only get worse (LA Times)
Kaiser San Jose hospital fined as COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow (LA Times)
Hotel workers renew push for recall rights, job protections (CalMatters)
California suspends payment on 1.4 million unemployment claims while searching for fraud (LA Times)

ICYMI

The inequities of COVID: Why has South County been impacted so disproportionately? (Isa Cueto)
Vaccines for essential workers to be offered at Dominican tomorrow as county aims to ramp up distribution (Mallory Pickett)
Santiago Tehandon, 80, retired Watsonville maintenance technician, food bank volunteer (Isa Cueto)

WHAT ELSE?

You’ve seen our ramped-up COVID 2021 coverage, from newsletters like this one to text alerts to special coverage on South County, the economy and people stories about those most affected by the virus. But have you put our special event on your calendar yet?

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 our Chris Fusco and Mallory Pickett will hold court with Gail Newel, Marm Kilpatrick and others — and answer your questions. We hope you are finding our focus on Covid valuable. If you don’t want to receive this newsletter or want to change your preferences, please go here.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor