COVID 2021

COVID PM: Our in-depth look at farmworker vaccines

Hey, it’s Tuesday night and the worst of the weather is yet to come. Don’t be reading this while driving on a wet road please!

In our COVID Today reporting by Mallory Pickett, we learned that 340 vaccines were administered at the newly opened drive-thru center at the fairgrounds on a day when the state acknowledged that it must do better at getting doses to its counties. The state also introduced new guidelines that should benefit those in phase 1b, which includes workers in education, child care, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

There’s been a lot of chatter in both our editorial meetings and in county health meetings about where farmworkers fit into the vaccine equation. Our Patrick Riley has been working that angle and — as you will read — it’s a fairly complex one. The biggest complication turns out to be the perceived level of mistrust the farmworker community has for the process and the vaccine itself.

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And now on to this evening’s headlines...

Fairgrounds site off to a busy start

The drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

COVID TODAY: California health officials acknowledged Tuesday that vaccine distribution is not moving quickly enough at the same time that Santa Cruz County officials were stepping up local vaccination efforts through a new drive-thru clinic at the county fairgrounds in Watsonville. The other key development Tuesday: County COVID numbers remained on a positive course. More from Mallory here, and a look at some of those key numbers below.

Covid numbers

‘The mistrust is gonna be an issue’

Farmworkers at Lakeside Organic on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

VACCINE WATCH: During peak season, Santa Cruz County is expected to be home to some 9,000 farmworkers who could soon be in line for the coronavirus vaccine. But county officials, growers and advocates worry about the hurdles standing between workers and the shots. Here’s Patrick’s full report from South County.

More from here & elsewhere

Educators, food workers join California’s priority list for vaccines (CalMatters)
Biden acts to expand COVID-19 vaccine distribution (LA Times)
Lack of planning deprived jobless Californians of needed benefits amid pandemic, audit finds (LA Times)
Coronavirus World Map: We’ve now passed the 100 million mark for infections (NPR)
Some European countries move to require medical-grade masks in public (NPR)

ASK LOOKOUT: We answer your questions . . .

The following question was put to county health officer Gail Newel and infectious disease expert Marm Kilpatrick at our COVID 2021 event last week:

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel and UC Santa Cruz epidemiologist Marm Kilpatrick.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Q: Has Santa Cruz County done any testing or looking for some of these variants? Is there any plan for UCSC to step in and help with that? What capacity do we have with that locally?

Gail Newel: There’s a statewide wastewater study going on to look for variants in our sewer, in wastewater. And other than that, the other thing locally is happening at UC Santa Cruz, so they’re doing some exciting work there.

Marm Kilpatrick: There’s a new project and partnership, just starting up in the last couple of weeks, to try to do exactly that — to really track, what kinds of viruses we have in our community and how that’s changing going forward. So that’ll be a partnership between the University of California Santa Cruz, and all the partners in the county as well.

➤ This is just the beginning. For everything we learned about the variants during the COVID 2021 event, please go here.

Have a question for us to try and get answered? Submit it here or just reply to this email.

Stay safe out there and see you tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor