COVID 2021

COVID PM: Good news for the 65+ crowd & what that positivity rate means

Howdy, Santa Cruz — welcome back to our daily pandemic roundup.

If you are 65 or older, there was vaccine news that perked your ears up today. Officials are calling it a “game changer.” We’ll tell you what we know about how it will affect you or your loved ones in Santa Cruz County.

There was more bad news on the local COVID-19 numbers front where daily new cases set a new record and the positivity rate stayed sky-high. One of our top local health officials at least helped bring some context to that number.

Be sure to tell all you know to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here. They can also just text “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

To the top headlines of the day we go . . .

The 65-and-up crowd is in. What does it mean?

vaccine

VACCINE WATCH: Californians 65 and older will now be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine after the state announced an expanded vaccination schedule Wednesday. In Santa Cruz County, that means tens of thousands more people will be eligible to receive the vaccine sooner than originally planned, our Tulsi Kamath and Mallory Pickett report.

READ WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT IT HERE

Active virus numbers persist in Santa Cruz County

Graphic

COVID TODAY: While there were no new deaths reported Wednesday, the 14-day average of daily new cases hit 198.8 cases per day, an all-time high based on Lookout analysis of county data. Nearly a quarter of the cases in Santa Cruz County since the pandemic began are currently active.

READ COVID TODAY HERE

What to make of the positivity rate spike?

swab

MORE COVID TODAY: The county’s 14-day positivity rate was only 12.4% on Christmas Eve. It’s been hovering past 20% for days now and even county officials have struggled to grasp what’s behind the spike — and even whether the data could be right. But Dr. David Ghilarducci, the county director of emergency medical services, explained to Mallory some likely causes.

READ MALLORY’S STORY HERE

Move-in plans scuttled for hundreds at UCSC

UC Santa Cruz sign
(UC Santa Cruz)

Even as COVID-19 cases surged in the fall, UCSC — with strict protocols and frequent testing — was able to keep a lid on the spread of the disease among the small number of students living on campus. Then came winter break. As our Nick Ibarra reports, plans for adding to the on-campus community have for now been scuttled.

READ NICK’S STORY HERE

More from here & elsewhere

15 Kaiser San Jose patients test positive for COVID-19 after Christmas Day outbreak (LA Times)
How close is California to bending the coronavirus curve? (LA Times)
As COVID-19 cases rise at a state psychiatric hospital, a federal judge mulls releasing patients (LA Times)
The future of the Coronavirus? An annoying childhood infection (NY Times)
The vulnerable can wait. Vaccinate the super-spreaders first (Wired)
‘This is a problem ... across the country’: Health officials hope to speed up COVID-19 vaccine administration at nursing homes (USA Today)

COVID 2021, the ‘event’

What: A free community conversation about COVID-19, hosted by Lookout, where local experts answer your questions.
When: Thursday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m.
Where: Lookout will offer simultaneous Spanish interpretation, through a separate Zoom audio channel. Register here.

COVID silver linings

Here’s a new feature that will take your involvement. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we all know there have been some positives to emerge — some laughs even, beyond the sight of our unkempt hair or wardrobe. Here’s one I’ll throw out for starters:

  • I’ve spent way more quality time with my wife and two teens since lockdown. We’ve staged impromptu nerf gun battles. We’ve dug further into their youth with Uno and Connect Four marathons. We fostered some kittens. We’ve actually sat down at the dinner table more times than I can count. That’s my kickoff COVID Silver Lining. Hit reply and tell me yours!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor