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Morning Lookout: Honoring Dr. King with virtual events, a COVID variant found nearby and more

Good Morning! It’s Monday, Jan. 18. Happy Martin Luther King Day, everyone.

It’s going to be a mostly sunny day with a high of 74. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for the Santa Cruz Mountains and other areas from 4 p.m. today through 7 a.m. tomorrow. Meanwhile, a fire weather watch has been issued for the higher elevations of the nearby Monterey and San Benito counties.

We have a litany of COVID-19 updates for you, including a variant strain found in neighboring counties and a story from our Nick Ibarra and Mallory Pickett about how UCSC researchers are testing the water you flush down your toilet to figure out how much COVID-19 infection is in the community.

But first, to the day’s events:

Honoring Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King giving his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington on 28 August 1963
Dr. Martin Luther King giving his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 1963
(National Archives and Records Administration)

Today, we honor the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite quotes from the reverend is a question he asked a crowd in Montgomery, Alabama. It was one my mother repeated to me growing up, hoping to instill the value of community service: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

If you’re looking for a way to give back and get involved with the Santa Cruz community, you can check out the Civic Groups section of our website where we feature dozens of non-profit organizations that are working to help the community.

Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about local, virtual events honoring Dr. King today:

2021 MLK MARCH FOR THE DREAM: Justice, Reconciliation & Reparations: The NAACP’s annual march event is going on YouTube due to the pandemic. Speakers will include state Sen. John Laird; the Rev. Deborah Johnson, Pastor of InnerLight Church; and UC Santa Cruz history Professor David Anthony.
Time: Noon
Watch it here.

Homeless Garden Project: In honor of Dr. King, the Homeless Garden Project is holding an online gathering featuring Keisha Browder, CEO of United Way of Santa Cruz County. The group is encouraging people who attend to dedicate four hours of volunteer service in King’s honor
Time: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Register here.

A talk with freedom fighters: The Temple Beth El Senior Connections program is providing a virtual opportunity for people to view and listen to the personal stories from the Wilcox County, Alabama, freedom fighters. The event will include a 40-minute film followed by live Q&A with Author Maria Gitin and Joy Crawford-Washington, the granddaughter of Civil Rights leaders from Alabama.
Time: 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Join Zoom here.

Presented by Santa Cruz County Bank

Botanic and Luxe opened their doors in the spring of 2016 in downtown Santa Cruz and quickly became a local staple and a...

They’re testing your what? Researchers get down and dirty with science to track COVID

The Watsonville Wastewater Treatment Plant serves about 55,000 residents in the city and surrounding areas.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Once or twice each week, UCSC professor of molecular engineering David Bernick meets the head of Watsonville’s water quality lab in a grocery store parking lot. He takes a sample handoff, puts it on ice and brings it back to his lab. By the next day, Bernick says he has a pretty good idea of where Watsonville’s COVID-19 trajectory is headed — a trend that might not show up from swab tests for a handful of days, and in hospitals for weeks. His data is drawn from a test taken unwittingly with the flush of a toilet. It relies on the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been shown to shed through a carrier’s fecal matter. Read more here about the important insight public health officials get from scientists examining your wastewater.

COVID 2021 updates

Read the latest in our COVID TODAY blog here. The quick rundown:

  1. Variant found in neighboring counties: A COVID-19 variant has been linked to “multiple outbreaks in Santa Clara County,” just across the Santa Cruz County line, and also has been found in neighboring Monterey County, state officials say. It’s different than the one first detected in the U.K.
  2. Vaccine batch put “on pause”: State epidemiologists are recommending that a batch of vaccines — lot 41L20A of the Moderna vaccine — be put “on pause” due to possible allergic reactions that are under investigation.
  3. Stay-home order update: What do the latest 4-week projections say? Click here to find out.

BOLO, Faces of COVID: Be On The Lookout later today for our story about beloved local coach Gene Johnson and his wife of 73 years, Doris. Gene died of COVID-19 a few days ago at the age of 94.

COVID 2021: The Experts Answer Your questions: Sign up for our free, virtual event — broadcast in both English and Spanish — by clicking here. It’s at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, and panelists include county Health Officer Gail Newel.

COVID En Español: Read some of our COVID 2021 coverage in Spanish by clicking here.

ASK LOOKOUT: We’re finding answers to your vaccine, COVID-19 questions

Another COVID read: 5 reasons to wear a mask even after you’re vaccinated

Around the county…

Santa Cruz police investigating county’s 3rd homicide of 2021 (The Pajaronian)

Drive-thru Crab Feed slated for March at Santa Cruz County fairgrounds (Good Times)

More than rough: Securing tee times at golf courses is no longer a gimme (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Boulders hit Prius on Highway 17 (technically outside Santa Cruz County but close enough, Lookout Santa Cruz)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts 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.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor