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Morning Lookout: Leaders outraged over possible cause of jail outbreak, sports returns

Good Morning, Santa Cruzans!

It’s Dec. 3 and you can expect another partly sunny day with a high of 64.

It’s been a busy week here at Lookout Santa Cruz as we’ve been breaking news about the COVID-19 correctional officer outbreak and getting you the latest information about the pandemic. Here’s what you need to know today:

‘Dumb and irresponsible’

Santa Cruz County Jail
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

County leaders are outraged after Lookout revealed Tuesday night and yesterday that a “large gathering” attended by correctional officers is being investigated by health officials as a potential source of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Santa Cruz County jail system.

Much about the gathering remained unclear, including to what extent it violated California’s COVID-19 restrictions in effect in purple-tier Santa Cruz County. If the deputies violated COVID-19 protocols or departmental policy, Sheriff Jim Hart would be in charge of taking disciplinary action, according to Santa Cruz County District 3 Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.

“We don’t control what people do on their off time, but I think we need to make sure that the sheriff is working with his team to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Coonerty said. “What this group of people chose to do was dumb and irresponsible, but it should be seen in the larger context.” Read more about what local officials are saying here.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Coonerty called the party “dumb and irresponsible” — and other leaders concurred. (Our attempts to reach the union that represents correctional officers was unsuccessful.) What’s your opinion of the party? Simply hit reply to this email and your answer will come to my inbox.

COVID around the county

Another death

COVID-19 continues to surge in Santa Cruz County today, with latest numbers from the county revealing yet another new death, bringing the total to 33. Here’s a snapshot of the current situation in Santa Cruz County.

Expanded testing

Meanwhile, county health officials yesterday announced a significant expansion of the state-operated COVID-19 testing site at Ramsay Park in Watsonville. The site will now operate seven days a week and double its capacity, being able to process up to 330 individuals per day. Read more here.

If you are looking for a COVID test, you can check our COVID-19 testing guide that breaks down which sites allow for free testing, which need a doctor’s referral and more. You can also keep track of everything that’s going on surrounding the pandemic on our coronavirus page.

Scotts Valley extends outdoor dining, fitness classes through end of May

Scotts Valley businesses can continue larger-than-usual outdoor operations under an extension of COVID-19 permissions the City Council approved Wednesday night. Given the ongoing pandemic, council members extended until May 31 business-friendly rules that were set to expire at the end of this month. Read more here.

Sports return to Santa Cruz County ... courtesy of Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 restrictions

The UC Santa Clara and Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball teams at Kaiser Permanente Arena Wednesday night.
The UC Santa Clara and Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball teams warm up before their game at Kaiser Permanente Arena Wednesday night.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Live sports were back in Santa Cruz County this week, just not in the fashion local fans might wish or hope for.

Santa Clara County’s new COVID-19 restrictions — which ban all sports practices and games through Dec. 21, even for the San Francisco 49ers — have caused two college teams to suit up here . . . quietly. Read the full story here.

Interview with local artist Irene Juarez O’Connell and MAH’s upcoming free exhibition opening, Community is Collective...

TIP LINE: Have a COVID-related story idea or question? Let us know

We’ve been receiving lots feedback and questions as we continue to cover COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County. But what’s been evident to us is residents feel there’s a lack of free-flowing information and communication about the virus. Here’s a place where you can make your concerns, comments or questions heard. If you have a tip or story idea for us that you would like us to investigate, you can fill out our tip sheet here. And yes, you can remain anonymous if you want!

Recovery flashback: Recalling the day Watsonville rocked with joy and relief

Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana plays at the Watsonville High football field in a support concert for victims of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.
(Via YouTube)

Our Wallace Baine reflects on how the upcoming “Love You Madly” benefit concert to help those affected by the CZU Lightning Complex fires parallels another benefit concert that came at a time of crisis in Santa Cruz County in the late 1980s. He writes:

That memorable show in ’89 was also all about helping local people displaced by a natural disaster. Then it was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which brought death and destruction all across the Bay Area. But, on either side of the epicenter in mid county, the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville were particularly devastated.

Up stepped legendary rock promoter and deal maker Bill Graham, never one to do things halfway.

Read Wallace’s full column here.

Around the county...

Santa Cruz, Monterey counties certify election results (The Pajaronian)

Pacific Station Redevelopment approved by Santa Cruz Zoning Administrator (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Things To Do in Santa Cruz: Dec. 2-8 (Good Times)

Shoutout your ‘Everyday Hero’ here

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 our website. Submit your entry here.

That’s it for this morning. As we publish stories throughout the day, along with bookmarking, one of the easiest ways to stay on top of the latest news is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And please, while you’re at it, invite your friends to follow us as well!

Thanks for reading!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor