COVID 2021

COVID PM | JUST IN: California stimulus package gets approved, county vaccine allotment widens

Hello, everyone, happy Monday, and some breaking news on both the local vaccine and state economic fronts:

COUNTY WIDENS DISTRIBUTION: With news that 50% of the area’s 65- to 74-year-olds had received their first dose of vaccine came an announcement that the county would expand its vaccine reach to workers in the education, child care, emergency services, and food and agriculture industries. More on that below.

STATE APPROVES STIMULUS: Californians who qualify for a $600 state stimulus payment could see the money arrive as soon as in a month after filing their tax returns under a package approved Monday. Crafted by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders last week, the pandemic assistance plan also includes $4 billion in grants, tax breaks and fee waivers for small businesses. More on that below too.

Tell all you know to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here — or do the latter by texting “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

And now the headlines...

Teachers, farmworkers get green light

A farmworker at Lakeside Organic in Watsonville on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

After a rough start, vaccine distribution in Santa Cruz County has sped up, with more than 50% of all older adults in the county having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. With this milestone reached, the county is now expanding vaccine eligibility to certain high-risk occupational groups. Our Mallory Pickett has the details here.

$600 stimulus checks on their way

Money
(Via Pixbay)

COVID ECONOMY: Californians who qualify for a $600 state stimulus payment could see the money arrive as soon as a month after filing their tax returns under a $7.6-billion COVID-19 economic relief package approved Monday by the state Legislature. Crafted by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders last week, the pandemic assistance plan also includes more than $2.1 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses. Those companies can soon apply for the grants, followed by an approval process that state officials estimate would take 45 days. Read our content partner the LA Times’ story here.

Kaiser addresses ‘vaccine disparity’

vaccine
(Via Pixabay)

VACCINE WATCH: While the amount of vaccine being distributed in the county continues to improve, Kaiser remains the only provider not yet vaccinating the over-65 crowd. The company addressed what it termed “the disparity in vaccine supply we have received” in a letter to patients this weekend and said it is working with the state to increase the amounts it is receiving. Go here for the latest news on that and more.

It’s been a hard year. We talk about it Wednesday

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, Watsonville High counselor Daisy Nuñez 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. (Did I mention that I’m co-hosting?)

More from here & elsewhere

Watch: President Biden Delivers Emotional Remembrance Of 500,000 COVID-19 Victims (NPR)
U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 500,000 (LA Times)
Governor admits problems with vaccine rollout in Latino and Black communities (LA Times)
Unemployed Californians face months of delays when appealing denial of jobless benefits (LA Times)
Modified COVID-19 vaccines may get nod from FDA without repeating full trials (LA Times)
A Berkeley lab’s deadly mistake has been fodder for anti-vaxxers for 50 years (SF Gate)
Meghan McCain faces backlash after calling for Dr. Fauci’s firing, complaining about vaccine rollout (USA Today)
Sources: Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin tests positive for COVID-19 (ESPN)

One year later: Your story

I’ve got an important question for you: How has your life been changed by the pandemic?

Yeah, I know, it’s deep and existential and perhaps difficult to even pin down. But it’s an important reflection point as we approach the one-year anniversary of when this madness all began. It was March 6, 2020, when the first coronavirus case was reported in Santa Cruz County.

I’d like to commemorate that date in this space by sharing some of your individual stories. I know it may be hard to sum up in a few short sentences, but give it a try and send it my way. I’d love to hear from you. 🙏

See you tomorrow and please sign up for our event!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor