A nurse processes a COVID-19 test at the SALUD Para La Gente testing facility in Watsonville on Nov. 19, 2020.
A nurse processes a COVID-19 test at the SALUD Para La Gente testing facility in Watsonville on Nov. 19, 2020. With California experiencing a surge in new cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a 10 p.m. curfew for all counties in the purple tier, including Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout newsletter: Newsom family in quarantine, state of the pandemic in Santa Cruz, mud and more

Good morning, Santa Cruzans!

It’s Monday, Nov. 23, and welcome to the first Morning Lookout newsletter. I’m Tulsi Kamath, Managing Editor of Lookout Santa Cruz, and I’ll be sending you this digest each weekday morning with all the top local news, features and things you need to know today.

My route to Lookout has taken me through Anchorage, Alaska; Mumbai, India; and, most recently, Houston, Texas. It’s fantastic to be settled here in Santa Cruz, and to be your guide to our daily news report.

That report, of course, always includes the weather: Today promises to be mostly sunny with a high of 63. I’ll take it over summer in Texas anytime.

At Lookout, our mission is to be the news organization of record for Santa Cruz County, but also to give you, our readers, statewide and national news that’s relevant to the Santa Cruz community. Reading Lookout not only gets you the local scoop each day, we also include news from our content partners.

It’s the start of our first full week. Let’s dive in:

Pumpkin pie and a pandemic

covid nurse at drive-thru testing site

It’s a Thanksgiving week unlike any other. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a curfew for all counties — including ours — which are in the purple tier, the most restrictive level for public gatherings amid the coronavirus. It runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night until at least Dec. 21. Late last night, our content partner the Los Angeles Times reported that Newsom and his family will be quarantining for 14 days after being exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for COVID-19. We’ve posted their story on our site here.

What should we expect in the days to come? Our Mallory Pickett and Isabella Cueto sat down with county Health Officer Gail Newel to get the latest on the pandemic in an exclusive interview. Newel explains how we got here (darn it, Halloween and family gatherings!) and says we’re “in it for the long haul” — but remains optimistic a vaccine could be here before year’s end. Read the whole thing here. It’s among our most well-read stories since we launched Lookout on Friday.

One thing we have heard a lot since we started our work in Santa Cruz is that even eight months since the start of the pandemic, it’s been difficult to get clear information about how to get a COVID-19 test. We have you covered, with our COVID-19 testing guide, which breaks down which testing facilities accept people who are asymptomatic, which need doctor’s referrals, and much more.

If you still plan to travel for Thanksgiving, a helpful LA Times guide explains how you can keep you and your family safe during the holidays.

Meanwhile, please bookmark our COVID-19 page, which we update daily with case totals, positivity rates and case trends so you can keep track of the state of the pandemic countywide. It even dives into the latest on school reopenings (hint: not looking good at the moment).

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

The University Library at UC Santa Cruz recently announced the online publication of the Santa Cruz County Historic...

Fire, mud and music

A burned chair frame is left after the CZU Lightning Complex fire crept on to Amber Turpin's Bon Lomond property.
Only a burned chair frame is left after the CZU Lightning Complex fire crept on to Amber Turpin’s Bon Lomond property. Luckily, the fire stopped four feet away from her house.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Obviously, the pandemic hasn’t been the only devastating part of 2020. Hundreds in the Santa Cruz Mountains were displaced earlier this year because of the CZU Lightning Complex fires. One of our contributors, Amber Turpin, details her family’s 75-day ordeal of being evacuated from their Ben Lomond home and coming back to a changed world. “The truth is, being home is hard. It is endless walls of things to get done . . . and we are still walking through ash and debris to get to our front door,” she writes. Read her full essay here, and please share it with others.

Yet, four months after the fires, the danger is not yet gone for mountain-dwellers. Officials are warning residents and bracing for the possibility of debris flows — a deadly geological phenomenon akin to a mudslide on steroids.

Love You Madly

As always in tough times, the community comes together to support each other. A lineup of star musicians — Bonnie Raitt & Boz Scaggs, Sammy Hagar, Colin Hay, Los Lobos, Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, to name a few — will come together virtually on Dec. 5 for a relief concert benefiting those affected by the wildfires. Wallace Baine tells you how you can attend the event (virtually) and contribute to the effort here.

21 for ’21

Speaking of the Wallace, he’s heading up our effort to profile 21 community-builders we believe will help shape and inspire Santa Cruz on the road to recovery in 2021. To that end, meet MariaElena De La Garza. She’s executive director of the Watsonville-based Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, overseeing 40 employees and more than 500 volunteers who serve thousands across the county. CAB’s work includes helping with job placement, rental assistance, help for immigrants, and other services for low-income families and individuals. Read more about her here.

3 takes, 1 launch

Finally, I leave you with three perspectives on Lookout Santa Cruz and what we hope to do for the Santa Cruz community. Our CEO and Founder Ken Doctor talks about the journey that has led to launch; Executive Editor Chris Fusco explains what drew him from big city life in Chicago to run this unique journalism experiment on the California coast; and Wallace reflects on his 30 years as a Santa Cruz journalist and what excites him about Lookout.

That’s the highlights for this morning. We’re working on several new stories today, including the next 21 for ’21 and breaking down how Santa Cruz educators feel about Proposition 15 failing to pass this election. Had it gotten the nod, it would have created about $6.5 billion to $11.5 billion in funding for California public schools. Check back in later today on LookoutSantaCruz.com for these stories plus more.

A question for today . . .

What do you think of Lookout Santa Cruz? We’re free for now thanks to the generosity of our Marketing Partners, but we’re still hoping you’ll sign up for a founding membership and support one of our Civic Partners in the process. This means we need your feedback.

If you want to reach out, simply hit reply to this email and your note will come straight to my inbox.

Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor