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Morning Lookout: Trump finally accepts end of term, county death toll nears 100 and more

Good Morning! It’s Thursday, Jan. 7. Expect a partly sunny day with a high of 61.

Today, we are vastly expanding our coverage to dive even deeper not only into the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also its impact on small businesses, vaccine rollout, schools reopening and everyday people. We’ve named the effort COVID 2021, and we’ve even built a quiz to help you figure out which vaccine tier you’ll likely be in. Additionally, keep an eye on your inboxes around 5:30 p.m. today for our very first COVID PM newsletter that will be written and curated by Mark Conley, our deputy managing editor. Mark also will be sending out COVID text alerts whenever important developments that you need to know happen, and you can sign up to get his texts here or in the box below. Please spread the word among friends and family so they can stay informed and safe.

We have a few COVID updates today, including a new story by our Pat Riley about how 28% of Santa Cruz hospital workers who were offered the vaccine have yet to take it, plus a new proposal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that would include $600 payments to Californians.

But before we get to that, we have to talk about THE news of the day.

Trump finally concedes his term is ending and transition will be orderly after violent breach at U.S. Capitol

Yesterday, an angry mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee in events that will be forever remembered — and lamented — in U.S. history. In his tweets and speeches, the president spurred his supporters on for a great part of the day, and they eventually were removed from the U.S. Capitol. Read more about the shocking turn of events in this story from our content partner, the LA Times.

‘We cannot let this slow us down.’ Amid the chaos, our Nick Ibarra reached Central Coast lawmaker Rep. Jimmy Panetta who was sheltering in his D.C. office. A U.S. Navy Reserve veteran, Panetta said only his tour in Afghanistan compared to the chaos he saw unfold around him on Wednesday. “This president is incapable of doing the right thing when it comes to leadership,” Panetta said. “We’ve seen that throughout his time in the White House. He fails to rise to the occasion, he does not say the right thing . . .” Read Nick’s full story here.

During the violent clashes, San Diego resident Ashli Elizabeth Babbit, 35, was shot and killed by U.S. Capitol police. Read more about her here.

Early this morning (or late last night, depending on the time zone), Congress finally concluded the electoral vote count and officially certified President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory. We are now waking up to the news that Trump has finally said, through the Twitter account of one of his staffers, that there “will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”

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COVID Today: Death toll rises to 97 in county

Read more of the latest updates in our COVID Today blog here.

28% of county hospital workers offered vaccine have yet to take it

Three out of four health care workers and medical staff at Dominican and Watsonville hospitals in Santa Cruz County who have been offered the coronavirus vaccine so far have received it, with both hospitals reporting 72% vaccine acceptance rates as of Tuesday, county officials said.

The 28% who didn’t get it yet or declined to receive it include some who were out of town, or who were ill and had to defer. “So there was some other logistical reasons why” they have not gotten it yet, a top county health official says. “They’re not necessarily anti-vaxxers.” Read more about why local healthcare workers have not yet received the vaccine in our Patrick Riley’s story.

LOOKOUT QUIZ: Take this quiz to figure out which vaccine distribution tier you belong to?

Also, read more about everything we know about the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County here.

Another COVID read: Severe allergic reactions to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are ‘rare,’ CDC says

Newsom proposes $600 payments to Californians in need and extending COVID-19 eviction moratorium

With a state law protecting California tenants from pandemic-related evictions expiring at the end of this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed to extend the protections and expedite the distribution of $2.6 billion in federal rental assistance for low-income tenants. Newsom said the budget he will release tomorrow would include the rental assistance money and a $600 state stimulus check. Read more from our content partner, the LA Times here.

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Judge extends ban on breaking up San Lorenzo homeless camp for a week

Homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

We also have an update in the battle between advocates for the unhoused and the city of Santa Cruz over the city’s effort to remove a homeless encampment from San Lorenzo Park downtown. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruled yesterday to extend a temporary restraining order she had granted on Dec. 30 by another week, allowing people to stay in the park for now. “This is a community that has strong interests on both sides, and that is not lost on the court,” van Keulen said near the end of the 75-minute hearing. Read more from our Isa Cueto here.

Around the county…

Small craft advisory issued with huge swell on forecast (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Local leaders denounce unprecedented attack on Capitol Building (The Pajaronian)

Deep in the Zonehaven: The evacuation planning and support tool used during the CZU Complex Fire(San Lorenzo Valley Post)

That’s it for today. Again, keep an eye out for Mark’s COVID PM newsletter this evening and sign up for Lookout COVID Text Alerts here.

If you’re enjoying our coverage, 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 through 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!

Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor