A woman in a mask helps another woman to put on protective headgear.
A nurse gets help putting on her personal protective equipment before heading into a negative pressure room at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Latest News

Morning Lookout: Plummeting enrollment at Cabrillo, hospitals buckling under patient surge and more

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, Jan. 5, and today’s forecast calls for a partly sunny day with a high of 59.

The “surge on top of a surge” is almost here, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned yesterday, even as health care workers statewide, including here in Santa Cruz County, are struggling to fight exhaustion as hospitals are bursting at the seams with COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, we’re learning about the pandemic’s toll on a well-known business — Palace Art & Office Supply, which is closing its downtown Santa Cruz storefront and consolidating in Capitola — and about plummeting enrollment numbers at Cabrillo College.

Even with the hope of recovery that the vaccine brings, the situation remains dire as only a fraction of available doses have been administered in California, a situation that Newsom acknowledges is “not good enough.”

We have a ton to get through, so let’s jump right in.

Cabrillo College’s unprecedented 18% enrollment dip might be just the beginning

Cabrillo College plans to continue offering most courses remotely until spring 2022.
Cabrillo College plans to continue offering most courses remotely until spring 2022.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Community colleges across California came out on the short end as the pandemic reshuffled student enrollment this fall. At Cabrillo College, the changes hit harder than most. Facing the twin crises of pandemic and the CZU fire, Santa Cruz County’s community college delayed the start of its fall semester by a week — and now we’re learning that Cabrillo has lost 18% of its student body year over year.

That’s worse than other community colleges statewide, where the average enrollment dip was 11%. And an even more precipitous drop could be brewing in spring, as Cabrillo’s registration rates lag even further behind last year’s pace. Read more from our Nick Ibarra here.

Take a sneak peek at the MAH’s newest showcases and exhibitions coming in 2021!

Pandemic worse than ever in Santa Cruz, hospitals’ ability to cope ‘much in doubt’

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to surge to all-time highs in Santa Cruz County.

Currently hospitalized:

  • 82 people hospitalized countywide (a record high)
  • 17 of the 82 are in intensive care

Bay Area Regional ICU capacity: 7.9%

“So far our hospitals have been able to accommodate the added pressure, operating in surge conditions,” county emergency medical services director Dr. David Ghilarducci told Lookout Monday. But, he added, “the ability to stretch any further is much in doubt.”

Given that hospitals in the Bay Area region still have capacity in their ICUs, it would seem the sickest patients could be transferred throughout the region to get critical care. In Santa Cruz, officials at Dominican Hospital were bracing for things to get worse. In a prepared statement to Lookout, the hospital’s president would not rule out implementing “triage” measures that presumably would be similar to those seen in Southern California. Read the latest COVID-19 updates in our daily blog here.

What to make of Dominican Oaks discrepancy? Facility reports ‘small number’ of cases, but details unclear

Officials at Dominican Oaks, a senior living facility near Dominican Hospital, told residents in a letter Sunday that the facility has had “a small number of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.” But the latest state data doesn’t show any cases there. A spokeswoman for the facility said she didn’t know what was causing the data discrepancy, but that officials were seeking answers. Read more from our Patrick Riley here.

‘Not good enough.’: Only 35% of vaccine doses in California have been administered

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a voluntary app to alert people if they were in contact with someone who tested positive.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a voluntary smartphone app to alert people if they were in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
(LA Times)

Of the 1.3 million vaccine doses that California has received, a little more than 454,000 — or 35% — have been administered so far, a rate Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged Monday was “not good enough” as he pledged new funding and efforts aimed at ramping up the rollout.

“We want to see 100% of what’s received immediately administered in people’s arms, and so that’s a challenge,” the governor said. An additional 611,500 vaccine doses are slated to be shipped to California soon. Newsom said the budget proposal he would submit to the state Legislature later this week included roughly $300 million to support vaccination efforts by bankrolling logistics, a public education campaign and other needs. Read more from our content partner, the LA Times here.

Vaccination by dentist: As part of that effort, California will now allow dentists to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines with proper training. State officials also are working to enlist pharmacy technicians, more doctors and clinics, and even National Guard members to immunize Californians.

How many doses of the vaccine have we gotten so far?

Total vaccine doses available in the county (excluding doses administered in nursing homes):

  • The first shipment in early December contained 1,950 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses The second shipment included 3,775 additional vaccines — 2,800 Moderna doses and 975 Pfizer doses
  • An additional 2,075 doses have been “allocated” countywide, bringing the total to 7,800, according to state data. It’s unclear exactly how those doses are being distributed.

Read more about everything we know about the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County here

Another COVID read: Even more contagious? Here’s what you need to know about the mutating virus now in California

After 71 years, Palace Art & Office Supply leaves downtown Santa Cruz

Another Santa Cruz fixture is feeling the effects of the pandemic. After more than seven decades in downtown, Palace Art & Office Supply has departed its Pacific Avenue storefront to consolidate operations in its Capitola location, store owners announced Monday. “This was not an easy decision for us to make,” Palace President Roy Trowbridge said. “But it is the best option for us to be able to continue to serve our loyal customers and staff.” Read more here.

Looking to the future: Manu Koenig focuses on homelessness, affordability in swearing-in speech

Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor Manu Koenig is sworn in during a ceremony at the supervisor chambers.
Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor Manu Koenig is sworn in during a ceremony at the supervisor chambers, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
(Patrick Riley/Lookout Staff)

Santa Cruz County’s Board of Supervisors welcomed its newest member Monday with the swearing-in of First District Supervisor Manu Koenig, who will represent Live Oak, Soquel, the Summit Area, Santa Cruz Gardens, and Carbonera. The No. 1 issue he heard from voters on the campaign trail was homelessness, Koenig said in his swearing-in speech. But he didn’t talk directly about Rail Trail, an issue that dominated his hard-fought campaign. Read more from our Patrick Riley here.

Around the county…

Nearly 30 highway fatalities during New Year’s holiday (The Pajaronian)

Should cities like Watsonville clamp down on food trucks? (Good Times)

Seagull causes power outage for nearly 6,000 Santa Cruz residents (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying this newsletter, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To ensure you’re staying informed about all the goings-on in Santa Cruz, consider becoming a Lookout member. We won’t be free forever!

Thanks for reading!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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