COVID 2021

COVID PM: County surpasses 100 deaths, racial inequities of virus and more

Welcome to the kickoff edition of COVID PM, part of Lookout’s COVID 2021 initiative announced today. The goal here is simple: To fill you in on the day’s most important COVID-related developments we’re writing about, or learning of via our content partners.

Today our correspondent crew here in Santa Cruz County was writing about the immediate halt of elective surgical procedures, our area’s sad, grim surpassing of the 100-death milestone, which happened late this afternoon, and why South County has been hit so disproportionately hard by the virus.

At the state level, our partners were covering an ambitious plan by California officials to ramp up vaccination rollout despite concerns by some doctors who say they’ve yet to be offered the vaccine.

There’s a lot in today’s COVID PM debut, 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 (831) 508-7524 and typing the word “Covid.” Please share this number widely, too.

With that, let’s dive in.

The inequities of COVID

Miri and Santiago
Miriam Villalobos and Santiago Tehandon, both Watsonville residents who died of COVID-19 complications in recent weeks.

Watsonville and surrounding areas of South County make up just 18% of Santa Cruz County’s population yet have endured 45% of its COVID-19 deaths. Miri Villalobos and Santiago Tehandon (above) were two of those lost lives. Our Isa Cueto spoke to their loved ones, along with city and county leaders, about why this tragedy continues in such unequal fashion.

READ ISA’S STORY HERE

Local death toll surpasses 100; regional ICU at 3.5%

Cardiovascular specialist Danny Combs takes a breather outside the ER department at Dominican Hospital
Cardiovascular specialist Danny Combs takes a breather outside the ER department at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz this week.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Rough stuff continues to get decidedly rougher. Our county death total stands at 104, our 14-day average positivity rate has skyrocketed to 17.6% (well above the state average) and the Bay Area regional ICU capacity fell to 3.5%. Our Mallory Pickett gets into those details and more.

READ MALLORY’S COVID TODAY UPDATE HERE

Hitting pause on elective surgeries

Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Due to “extremely overloaded hospitals in Santa Cruz County” the emergency medical services director and other county officials decided to put all elective surgical procedures on hold beginning tonight. The order applies to hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Our Patrick Riley talked to county officials and local doctors about what it means.

READ PATRICK’S STORY HERE

When might I get vaccinated? There’s a quiz for that

Vaccine

Which vaccine distribution tier do you belong to? Take our COVID-vaccine tier quiz to find out which vaccine tier you will be a part of based on Santa Cruz County’s COVID-19 distribution plan.

TAKE THE QUIZ HERE

FROM AROUND CALIFORNIA

California suspends payment on 1.4 million unemployment claims while searching for fraud (LA Times)
California sets a new goal: Vaccinate a million people over course of 10 days (CalMatters)
Rise in coronavirus cases has slowed, but San Francisco braces for holiday spike (LA Times)

WHAT ELSE?

As most of you know, we’ve got some cool things happening via our increased focus on the pandemic with COVID 2021, from newsletters like this one to text alerts to this special event that we are hosting later this month with Gail Newel and Marm Kilpatrick. 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.

See you tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor