Martin Luther King, Jr. during his famed "I have a dream" speech in Washington, DC.
(Archive photo)
Lookout PM Archive

LOOKOUT PM: MLK Day events, COVID stats, unhoused count

A very happy Friday to everyone, and welcome to the beginning of — for most folks — a long weekend. Though Omicron news has dominated the news, and our consciousness, for what feels far too long, may you get the chance to relax a bit and spend some quality time with those closest to you.

Before we get to the headlines, though, I want to announce that our popular Unsung series is continuing, and we’re reopening the nomination process.

Our call last year resulted in some amazing candidates. Among them: a woman who sings to the dying, a volunteer firefighter who lost her childhood home in the CZU fire while saving those of her neighbors and a Watsonville man known as “Mr. Volunteer.”

But we know there are so, so many more people out there. So if you’ve got a special, under-the-radar someone in mind who deserves a shoutout, we’re all ears. Hit us up at

A rundown of what’s open, closed and how to celebrate

Marchers in Santa Cruz commemorating the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death in March 2021

Local events: Your Lookout staff has compiled a rundown of the different events and volunteer happenings in Santa Cruz County over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Get the details here.

COVID-19 updates in Santa Cruz County

Inspire Diagnostics staff scope out the line of cars awaiting COVID tests at the Cabrillo College site.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Latest stats: Santa Cruz County’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to rise rapidly. As of Friday, the 14-day average was up 399%; last week’s figure was 187%, up from 12% the week prior to that. The county registered five more deaths in the past week, bringing the pandemic total to 235. Get all the details here.

More data: Vaccine update: Rates, where to find a COVID shot or test; wait, cost and turnaround times


Omicron concerns push back homeless count

A woman exits her tent at the Benchlands in San Lorenzo Park.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Point in time: Though the tally normally happens every two years, next month will be the first time Santa Cruz County’s unhoused have been counted since before the pandemic. And that date itself was pushed back a month due to the Omicron surge. The last time — in January 2019 — volunteers counted 2,167 people, though many believe the current number is far greater. Lookout’s Grace Stetson has the details here.

More coverage: Santa Cruz’s Warming Center providing a basic, essential need during a cold winter

A dynamic local beer for the new year, some outstanding mushroom gnocchi & more

Beila is a mixed fermentation saison made with Malvasia Bianca juice and aged in Birichino wine barrels.
(via Fruition Brewing)

Eaters Digest: Fruition Brewery paired up with Birichino winery to create an exquisite mixed-fermentation saison. And mark your calendars for next month’s return of one of Santa Cruz’s most beloved culinary events, back in its original form at the Boardwalk after a drive-thru event last year. Lookout’s Lily Belli has you covered on all things food and drink.

More from Lily: Read more Eaters Digest and more here.

In true sustainable fashion, Bay Federal Credit Union partnered with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary...

Here’s what’s changed as California’s new COVID workplace rules go into effect

A barista helps a cafe customer
Natalie Linares, a barista at With Love Market & Cafe, helps Abraham Rivas-Valle with a transaction in Los Angeles.
(Pablo Unzueta for CalMatters)

What’s changed: As COVID-19 case rates in California have jumped to their highest levels yet — more than six times the peak of the Delta variant wave — updated workplace rules are kicking in Friday to better help protect workers vaccinated against COVID-19. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times have the rundown here.

As the community continues its efforts to enhance & expand the county’s public library facilities, Friends of the Santa...

More from here & elsewhere

Santa Cruz’s Depot Park homeless camp closes Tuesday (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
‘Lol f— you’: Vallejo council member Hakeem Brown lays into constituents in profanity-laced emails (San Francisco Chronicle)
Santa Clara County sheriff makes first court appearance for corruption accusations (The Mercury News)
Congressman Panetta Visits Santa Cruz Mountains Communities (Good Times)

And that’s the way it was on this Friday. A programming note: due to the holiday, Lookout PM will be taking a break Monday evening. See everyone on Tuesday!

Dan Evans
Executive Editor