COVID PM | JUST IN: California vaccine distribution to speed up, and a viral video amid the virus

Hey, y’all! It’s Tulsi, filling in for Mark who has the day off.

We’re making gains on both the vaccine front and lowering infection rates. With new data from the state, we now know who is getting the vaccine in Santa Cruz County.

AND THIS JUST IN: A contract made public today reveals Blue Shield of California will create an algorithm to determine where to allocate COVID-19 vaccines statewide, with the company having a new, ambitious inoculation goal for residents.

Meanwhile, a video is going viral in Santa Cruz County and beyond that shows anti-maskers storming the downtown Trader Joe’s. What should we make of this brazen behavior? Wallace Baine gives his hot take.

Before we get to it, be sure to tell those who should be in the know to sign up for this newsletter and Mark’s text alerts here. They can also just text “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

And now to your COVID headlines:

We have new vaccine information ... and things are looking up!

VACCINE WATCH: The state has made demographic information on vaccination progress available by county today. So far, the majority of doses — 45% — in Santa Cruz County have gone to white people, but deputy health officer Dr. David Ghilarducci said last week that this was because the first administrations were focused on health care workers and nursing home residents in Phase 1A which were “not targeted with respect to race or ethnicity.” He expects this will change soon.

COVID TODAY: Meanwhile, new data from the state shows we are making progress when it comes to hospitalizations and positivity rates. Read more about both topics from our Mallory Pickett here.

JUST IN: Blue Shield vows to dramatically speed up California vaccine distribution

Staff and volunteers distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood.

Blue Shield of California will create an algorithm to determine where to allocate COVID-19 vaccines statewide with the goal of being able to administer 3 million shots a week by March 1. Read this breaking news story fresh from our partners at the LA Times here.

THE HERE & NOW: What to make of the latest viral anti-mask protest, this one at a Santa Cruz Trader Joe’s

A video is making the rounds on social media — a year into the pandemic — showing anti-maskers storming the Trader Joe’s in Downtown Santa Cruz. Our Wallace Baine gives his hot take on the brazen video that shows frazzled retail workers, frustrated masked customers and more than a dozen anti-maskers picking out produce and trying to pay in cash. Read Wallace’s whole column here.

It’s been a hard year... let’s talk about it

Clockwise from left: Jennalee Dahlen, DNA, David Ghiarducci and Paula Marcus
(Kevin Painchaud, Event Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County)

Our series of COVID 2021 events continues with our free “People in the Pandemic” event set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Like all of us, our panelists — Yoso Wellness Spa owner Jennalee Dahlen, Santa Cruz County EMS medical director Dr. David Ghilarducci, comedian and events producer DNA and Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El in Aptos — have seen their ups and downs because of COVID-19. Members of our team will talk with each of them individually and also as a group and we’re anticipating a great discussion about resilience and coping. To read more about and register for the event, click here.

If you have a pandemic life story tell us, you can submit yours here.

More from here & elsewhere

PHOTOS: Armed with a camera, a young ER doctor captures the faces of the COVID war (LA Times)
Can Pfizer and Moderna end the pandemic by sharing their vaccine designs? It’s not that simple (Kaiser Health News)
White students in state more likely to be getting in-person instruction than Black, Latino and Asian students (EdSource)
San Jose: Following Covid-19 vaccine scandal, Good Samaritan permanently closes vaccine clinic (SF Gate)

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Stay safe out there! Mark will be back at it tomorrow!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor