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Morning Lookout: Local leaders seek state help on homelessness issue, anti-mask efforts ramping up and more

Good Morning! It’s Monday, Feb. 22. It’s going to be a lovely sunny day with a high of 71.

Santa Cruz city and county officials are turning to the state for financial help ahead of a massive highway widening project set to begin in April that will displace a 100-tent homeless encampment. This comes as the city council is set to consider an ordinance tomorrow that would ban camping in parks, beaches and areas in downtown Santa Cruz.

Meanwhile, our community has been getting national attention for days after a video that showed anti-mask activists storming the Trader Joe’s went viral, so our Mark Conley and Patrick Riley delved into whether anti-mask events have become more aggressive of late. Here’s their report.

Have you seen more “Recall Newsom” signs around town? The initiative has gained momentum with backers submitting 1.1 million signatures to the state on Friday. Meanwhile, others are calling for Newsom to make good on a campaign promise he made three years ago — single-payer health care.

Here’s what you need to know, including the latest on when Kaiser Permanente patients 65 and older might be getting vaccinated, for your day:

With ‘no relief in sight,’ Santa Cruz leaders seek Newsom’s help on homelessness amid Highway 1 snafu

Tents and bikes at a homeless encampment by the San Lorenzo River
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As city, county and state officials arm-wrestle over what to do with a 100-person homeless encampment near the intersection of Highways 1 and 9 ahead of a major widening project, Santa Cruz city and county officials sent a joint letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for help. Local officials are requesting emergency funding and other support from Newsom to resolve the highway issue — and other issues involving the unsheltered. Read more from our Isbella Cueto and Patrick Riley here.

HAPPENING TOMORROW: Santa Cruz City Council to consider ordinance that would ban camping in parks, beaches and downtown areas inhabited by homeless people (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Presented by Santa Cruz County Bank

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County re-envisioned its programs and initiatives to meet the needs and challenges of...

Anti-maskers’ swarming of Santa Cruz Trader Joe’s latest sign of more ‘aggressive’ tactics, police chief says

Anti-mask events around the county that began early in the pandemic continued over the weekend, with a group again offering maskless “free hugs” to passersby at Lighthouse Field. Their activities were peaceful, but a recent video of the maskless group swarming the downtown Trader Joe’s — captured on a viral video — has been the talk of the town for days. Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills says it was just the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive tactics in recent months. Read more about how the events have changed — and how police are responding — from our Patrick Riley and Mark Conley here.

THE HERE & NOW: Boulder Creek band releases album from the ashes of 2020, Watsonville Film Festival ready for its closeup

In his latest The Here & Now column, our Wallace Baine discusses the latest in music and movies, and catches up with the Santa Cruz Mountains band Wolf Jett, whose drummer Jon Payne lost his home in the devastating summer wildfires. Read the whole thing here.

ANOTHER LOCAL READ: Outdoors giant REI coming to Santa Cruz this year (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Vaccine Watch

Jacquelyn Zaval, RN, prepares Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine at a "super site"

Doses administered to Santa Cruz residents: 66,887
Doses administered in California: 7,320,679

Kaiser Permanente struggling with low supply of doses: On Sunday, the health system told Lookout it has been receiving a “disproportionately small share of vaccine, relative to the portion of the population our members represent.” As a result, it has had to limit vaccination appointments only to those older than 75. When will Kaiser patients 65 and older start getting vaccinated? Here’s everything we know about that — and much more — in our vaccine watch feature.

Storms cause vaccine delays here: The arctic blast that immobilized much of Texas and the rest of the country last week, has had far-reaching consequences — even in sunny Santa Cruz County. Like many other places in California, county vaccine shipments were delayed as a result of the storms, causing some providers to reschedule vaccine appointments to keep pace with tight supply. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

Governor admits problems with vaccine rollout in Latino and Black communities: Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged Sunday that state and local health officials have stumbled in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine equitably among Latino and Black communities. Of the 7.3 million doses administered in California, 2.9% have gone to Black residents, 16% to Latinos and 13% to Asian Americans, compared with 32.7% to white people, according to state data. Those skewed numbers are mirrored in Santa Cruz County. Read more from our content partner the LA Times here.

ANOTHER COVID READ: Vaccination rates rise in nursing homes, but when will families be able to visit? (LA Times)

Under the theme “Stories Matter,” the 9th annual Watsonville Film Festival will spotlight 20 award-winning indie and...

COVID 2021: People in the pandemic

Watsonville High counselor Daisy Nuñez on building resilience in the face of grief: Daisy Nuñez, a counselor at Watsonville High School, has experienced tremendous personal and professional grief in the past year, with several family members and friends dying of COVID-19. Describing herself as a stoic and “hopeologist,” Nuñez said she draws resilience from her family, her Catholic faith and her commitment to her community and work to help others. Read more about Nuñez and her work with her students in this story from our Nick Ibarra.

FREE EVENT ON WEDNESDAY — Get inspired by these ‘people in the pandemic’: Nuñez will be among the panelists who will be sitting down with Mark Conley and me on Wednesday evening to talk about the trials and triumphs (even small ones) of pandemic life. We will also be speaking with Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El, comedian DNA, esthetician and spa-owner Jennalee Dahlen and county EMS director Dr. David Ghilarducci. Learn more about our panelists here and SIGN UP TO BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION HERE.

ANOTHER COVID READ: At 113, she’s California’s oldest native. She got through a tough 2020 and is still going strong (LA Times)

Latest in ‘Recall Newsom’ effort

Volunteers with the Recall Newsom 2020 campaign

1.1 million signatures: Almost 1.1 million signatures have been submitted in support of a recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom, state elections officials reported Friday, though a sizable number of voter petitions have yet to be reviewed. How many are needed to get the recall measure on the ballot? Read more from our content partner, the LA Times here.

Amid recall threat, Gov faces single-payer dilemma: When running for governor in 2018, Newsom vowed to replace an “inefficient and wasteful” patchwork of private insurance companies and programs with a single, state-funded health plan for everyone. Progressive activists and the powerful California Nurses Association rallied to his candidacy. Three years later, some of those supporters say it’s time for the governor to make good on that promise. Read more from our partner CalMatters here.

Around the county . . .

One person killed in crash along Highway 1 in Watsonville (KION-TV)

Watsonville cancels most of its annual events, mayor says (The Pajaronian)

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources offers prescribed burn training in Davenport (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

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