Masked people shop in Santa Cruz County
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: What the new stay-at-home order means for Santa Cruz residents, businesses and more

Good Morning!

It’s Friday, Dec. 4, and it’s going to be a partly sunny, warmer day with a high of 68. It was a big news day yesterday with huge implications for the future, so let’s jump right in:

New stay-at-home order: What does it mean for Santa Cruzans?

People wearing masks in Santa Cruz County
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped a second stay-at-home order due to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations statewide. The surge happening in California — and on a smaller scale in Santa Cruz County — isn’t even being affected by those who might have gotten sick over Thanksgiving weekend. Newsom said he’s expecting “a surge on top of the surge” in the coming days as a result of holiday gatherings.

This new order is very different from the first one in the spring. Here are five quick things you need to know:

  • It’s a regional order that operates with the state divided into five regions. Santa Cruz falls in the Bay Area region.
  • None of the regions actually have an active order in place yet. The order is set to be triggered if the ICU bed capacity in a region falls below 15%.
  • As of yesterday, Santa Cruz County’s ICU bed capacity is at roughly 49%, which is well under that threshold. But what happens here likely won’t matter much because the capacity of all counties in our region, including much larger ones, will be taken into account.
  • Overall, the Bay Area region’s ICU availability yesterday stood at 25.30%. However, Newsom indicated yesterday that if trends continued, health officials expected the Bay Area region to cross the 15% threshold in mid- to late- December.
  • If triggered, the stay-at-home order will be in effect for three weeks and after that, any reopening of closed services and activities will be based on four-week projections of a region’s ICU capacity.

We know you probably have a ton more questions about the order, including (most importantly) what will have to close and what will be able to stay open. We created a helpful FAQ that should answer a lot of those questions. You can read it here. If you still have questions, we have a form you can fill out so we can get you the answer.

MORE: Who gets the vaccine first? Our content partner CalMatters breaks it all down.

STILL MORE: What’s open, what’s closed right now? Help us keep this Lookout Guide up to date!

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‘This will really hurt’: Restaurants brace for return to no in-person dining

The Capitola Esplanade aggressively adapted to outdoor dining.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

At Britannia Arms pub and restaurant in Capitola, owner Andy Hewitt said he was forced to lay off his entire staff when California’s strict stay-at-home order took effect in March.

But he managed to keep the eatery operating until those restrictions eased, gradually rehiring workers and welcoming customers back with new outside seating along the Capitola Esplanade. Now he’s worried he’ll have to go through it all over again if the new order gets triggered in Santa Cruz County.

“If I had another job somewhere, and this wasn’t my sole income, we’d probably close the doors,” said Hewitt. “But this is what we do for a living, me and my wife. We don’t have other jobs, so we don’t have a choice.” Read Nick Ibarra’s report on how local restaurant owners feel about the possibility of another stay-at-home order.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you feel about another stay-at-home order right as we near Christmas? Simply hit reply to this email and your answer will come to my inbox.

Jail outbreak update

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

In the midst of a chaotic news day yesterday, our Isabella Cueto checked in with the sheriff’s office for an update on COVID-19 testing at Santa Cruz County’s jails, a story that has dominated the headlines all week. After the outbreak was announced Monday, the sheriff’s office said it was going to test all staff, officers and incarcerated people in the jail within the following 72 hours. Yesterday, we learned that following testing of the jails’ 324 inmates, none had tested positive as a result of the outbreak.

The sheriff’s office is still waiting on results for “a handful” of correctional officers, but should have them by today, spokesperson Ashley Keehn told Lookout. County health officials are still investigating whether a “large gathering” early last week was the source of the outbreak among the officers, most of whom worked in the main jail. Despite the test results, the whole situation has shaken the confidence of those who interface with the jail system. Read Cueto’s report here.

21 for ’21: Annieglass adapts to the perils of manufacturing in a pandemic

Annie Morehouser at Annieglass.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)

As we continue to profile community builders who will shape Santa Cruz next year, we’d like to introduce you to Ann Morhauser. She is the founder and namesake of the celebrated fine-art manufacturer and distributor Annieglass, which creates beautiful hand-made glass plates, platters, bowls, and other artifacts from her small factory in Watsonville, a company she’s built over the course of 36 years.

But last spring, as revenues at Annieglass plunged toward zero, the company’s employees found themselves grappling with California’s suddenly overburdened unemployment machinery — including Morhauser herself.

“After almost 40 years in business, I didn’t even know how to (apply),” she said. “I had to ask other people how to do it. I kept getting kicked out: ‘What was your last job?’ Uh, I don’t know. Waitress at Upper Crust Pizza?” Read her full profile here. You can also read more people featured in our 21 for ’21 series here.

Around the county...

Watsonville man killed in crash on Amesti Road identified (The Pajaronian)

Remembering Chris Ow, on-site manager at King’s Village Shopping Center in Scotts Valley (TPG Online Daily)

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!

Have a good weekend, and stay safe.

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor