Morning Lookout: Trump won’t attend inauguration, 10,000+ cases, 100+ deaths in county and more
Good Morning! It’s Friday, Jan. 8. We’re expecting sun today with a high of 61.
I’m hoping Mark Conley’s first COVID PM newsletter arrived safe and sound in your email inbox yesterday evening. Another will be arriving this evening, and you also can sign up for Mark’s COVID Text Alerts by clicking here or by texting the word “Covid” to (831) 508-7524. Please share this number with others.
Today marks three weeks since California’s stay-at-home order for the Bay Area Region, including Santa Cruz County, went into effect, marking the first time the order could be lifted. Unfortunately, that isn’t looking likely anytime soon. The order would be lifted only if the region’s projected ICU bed availability meets or exceeds 15%. As of yesterday, that number stood at 3.5%.
So, barring a miracle, what happens now? Health officials have said they’ll look at four-week projections of regional ICU bed availability twice each week to gauge when to lift the order. We’ll be seeking more information about this today.
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Meanwhile, as the news in Washington comes fast and furious, a local publisher is trying to size up the post-Donald Trump era. We have a few more COVID updates today, but let’s start with the latest in the national news debacle.
Trump faces demands for his removal, but is there time to act?
Congress’ Democratic leaders demanded President Trump’s removal from office — vowing a swift impeachment, if necessary — in an effort to stop him from unleashing more chaos in his final days. Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called on Trump’s Cabinet to oust him by invoking the 25th Amendment, which was designed to remove a president who is incapacitated or unwell. They warned that the House would quickly consider impeachment articles if that does not happen. Schumer said he and Pelosi tried to call Vice President Mike Pence yesterday morning to urge him to follow the 25th Amendment, but Pence would not take their call. Read the full story from our content partner, the LA Times here.
Meanwhile, within the last 15 minutes, Trump tweeted that he will not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, a break from tradition that has only happened a few times in American history.
The campus continues to make advancements in the areas of housing, transportation, and water conservation.
Soquel publisher tries to size up the post-Trump era in new essay collection
Soquel-based author and journalist Steve Kettmann is hawking a new book as a publisher/editor — a collection of 38 personal essays and reflections of the 2020 presidential election, with a roster of contributors impressive in both scope and diversity. The book, “Now What? The Voters Have Spoken — Essays on Life after Trump,” includes three Pulitzer Prize winners and other award-winning columnists and writers.
As for diversity, has there ever been, or will there ever be again, one book that contains essays from actress Rosanna Arquette, former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark, soccer coach Bruce Arena, the Rev. Al Sharpton, baseball manager Dusty Baker, and former Trump administration spokesman Anthony Scaramucci? Read more about the book in this story by Wallace Baine.
Grim milestones: County surpasses 100 deaths, 10,000 cases since start of pandemic
The winter surge in COVID-19 infections continues unabated in Santa Cruz County. With nearly a dozen new deaths announced yesterday, county officials don’t believe the Christmas and New Year’s surges have even begun yet, as it usually takes several weeks for the disease to progress. A look at the numbers:
Deaths: Eleven new deaths reported yesterday including two people in their 30s and five people who lived in county nursing homes. It’s important to note that the date on which deaths are publicly announced by the county is dependent on when their death certificate is finalized and released to the county. The 11 total deaths announced yesterday occurred over many days from Dec. 12 through Jan. 5.
- Santa Cruz County has recorded 10,108 known COVID-19 cases since March 2020.
- More than 2,500 of those cases — or 25% — are active cases, with 55 new cases added to this number just yesterday.
- There are, at present, 76 COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized in the county, which is eight fewer people than yesterday
- There are four ICU beds available in the county, which is one less than yesterday
Keep on top of the latest updates in our COVID Today blog here.
Vaccine update: A vaccination clinic for essential workers will be held at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz on Saturday, county health officials have announced. The goal is to administer 340 vaccines. Dominican Hospital staff will oversee the vaccinations, which will not be for the general public but for workers who fall into Tier 1 of Phase 1a of California’s vaccination plan. Read more here about the vaccine clinic and read more about everything we know about the vaccine rollout in Santa Cruz County here.
Faces of COVID
This pandemic has been devastating on the Santa Cruz community with more than 100 local lives lost. As part of our expanded COVID 2021 coverage, we want to give people a chance to honor those who’ve been lost to the pandemic. I’ll let Wallace Baine explain:
One Face of COVID: Santiago Tehandon, 80, retired Watsonville maintenance technician, food bank volunteer
In March 2020, Tehandon — who died on Christmas Day — was named “Hunger Fighter of the Year” by the U.S. House of Representatives, and was honored by the city of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in response. His son, Juan Castaneda Tehandon, recalled beaming with pride as he watched his dad receive the honor at a ceremony at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz. He described his father as a humble, hardworking man who loved serving others. Read more in this story by our Isa Cueto.
LOOKOUT EVENT: Get your public health questions answered by county Chief Health Officer Gail Newel and UCSC Professor A. Marm Kilpatrick
On Jan. 21, Lookout Correspondent Mallory Pickett and Executive Editor Chris Fusco will moderate a virtual Zoom event, interviewing local public health experts about vaccine rollouts, the virus variant and everything else you’ve wondered and worried about. We invite you to come join us at this event and submit your questions ahead of time so we can get you some answers.
The best part? This event is also going to have a Spanish translator so the hardest-hit Hispanic/Latino communities in Santa Cruz County aren’t excluded from the conversation about public health and safety. Please join us on Jan. 21 for this free event and invite your friends as well.
Our Isa Cueto has a good story on South County’s COVID crisis that Mark highlighted yesterday evening. If you haven’t yet read, The inequities of COVID: Why has South County been impacted so disproportionately?, sit down and take it in.
Hotel workers renew push for recall rights, job protections
As the pandemic lurches into 2021, hotel employees are anxious to see if state lawmakers may revive past “right to recall” proposals to rehire based on seniority or propose new help. And although many workers will receive $600 in direct payments and a $300 unemployment boost, they are worried new aid from last month’s $900 billion federal relief package won’t reach them again. Labor unions charged the first coronavirus relief package was flawed for allowing major hotel chains to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program, which was aimed at helping small businesses. UNITE HERE, the country’s leading hospitality worker union, alleges hotels that took PPP loans did not use the loans to rehire workers or extend employee benefits as intended by the program. Hotel officials called allegations of misuse baseless. Read more from our content partner, CalMatters here.
Around the county…
Man fatally shot while driving in Watsonville Thursday night
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Have a great day!