A man wears a mask.
A patient is rushed to intensive care to be intubated and placed on a ventilator at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
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Morning Lookout: County resorts to Plan B in COVID fight, Giving Tuesday info and more

Good morning, Santa Cruzans!

It’s Dec. 1 (can you believe it?) and it’s going to be another beautiful Santa Cruz day with sunny skies and a high of 65.

It’s Giving Tuesday, so we’re touting our wide range of content on community service, people who want to help Santa Cruz, how you can honor an everyday hero and how to get involved yourself.

But first, let’s get the dreaded virus-related headlines out of the way:

COVID-19 surge

The county is seeing all-time highs in active COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and daily new cases. Here is where we stand as of last night, the latest numbers available:

With promise of COVID ‘overflow hospitals’ off table, county health officials turn to Plan B

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said in mid-November that county residents should expect COVID-19 restrictions to continue for several more months.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Though Santa Cruz County health officials were expecting a virus surge in the winter months following the holidays, they were hit with one surprise yesterday.

Dr. Gail Newel, the county’s top health officer, told our Mallory Pickett that the so-called overflow hospitals — health facilities to be provided by state government in the event county hospital beds fill up — might not open.

“We were pretty much counting on, for example, Seton Medical Center, which is in South San Francisco. And at this point there’s no plan to staff those facilities because of staffing shortages,” Newel said.

So what is Plan B? Read about it here.

More nursing home deaths?

Meanwhile, we broke the news yesterday that Pacific Coast Manor — a nursing home seeing an outbreak of cases — reported two new COVID-19-related deaths Sunday. That would bring the death toll countywide to 30 people, though county officials are awaiting confirmation that COVID-19 was the principal cause of death.

Read more about the demographic, geographic and racial breakdown of the virus in Santa Cruz County here.

Correctional officer outbreak

And nursing homes aren’t the only institutions that are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office announced that 15 correctional officers were off work after nine tested positive for the virus.

After consulting with health officials, the sheriff said all staff and incarcerated people will be tested for COVID-19 in the next few days. Read more here.

Another stay-home order?

Gov. Gavin Newsom warns that California is again on the brink of a wider coronavirus stay-at-home order as public health officials work desperately to shore up a state hospital system that’s contending with record numbers of COVID-19 patients. Should the recent trends continue, officials warn, there’s a chance that the viciously resurgent pandemic could overwhelm aspects of the state healthcare system. Read more here.

21 for ’21: UCSC’s Marm Kilpatrick fights spread of pandemic misinformation

UCSC ecology and evolutionary biology professor Marm Kilpatrick.
(Marm Kilpatrick / Contributed)

As we continue to profile 21 community-builders who will help shape and inspire Santa Cruz County as it heads into recovery in 2021, we’d like to introduce you to UC Santa Cruz professor, Marm Kilpatrick. As the only epidemiologist at the university, he’d been painstakingly digesting a firehose of research emerging on the virus. After a colleague pointed out that expertise was suddenly in high demand, he decided to do what he could to help. Read the full profile here.

Now, the good stuff . . .

Shoutout your ‘Everyday Hero’ here

Besides our 21 for ’21, we know there are countless others working every day to make a difference. All through December — we want to give you a chance to honor someone who works to make our community a better place. Submit a photo and a description of how they try to help the community and we might feature them in this newsletter and on Lookout Santa Cruz. Submit your entry here.

Learn how to help the people helping our community

Community Bridges
(Gina Orlando)

On Giving Tuesday — and on all days — Lookout Santa Cruz features the work of dozens of non-profit organizations that are toiling for the betterment of Santa Cruzans and their way of life. You can learn more about these Civic Groups and how you can get involved with them here, from how to donate to how to volunteer. And then there are our Lookout Guides on how to help organizations that are feeding the hungry amid the pandemic and where to get help if you need it.

We’re 10 days old, and we’re grateful for all your giving us!

Our CEO, nationally known journalist Ken Doctor, offers his take on how Giving Tuesday is dovetails perfectly with our mission here at Lookout. “I’m proud of the fact that we’ve built an initial foundation of community betterment, and giving, into Lookout’s mission and platform,” he writes. “For us, it’s not just a holiday giving program; it’s part of how we intend to uniquely link increasing local reporting and community betterment. Read the whole thing here.

Question of the day...

Today, I’d like to know: which organizations do you like to donate to on Giving Tuesday and year-round?

To respond to the question, just hit reply on this email and your note will come straight to my inbox.

Around the county...

Watsonville man dies in solo-vehicle crash (The Pajaronian)

Church Christmas tree farms looks ahead to busy season (Good Times)

St. Francis’ Audrey Hernandez gets softball scholarship (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

That’s it for this morning’s highlights. Remember to head to LookoutSantaCruz.com for stories as they break throughout the day, and please share those stories with others.

Thanks for reading!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor