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Morning Lookout: Deep-sea expedition, Sandbox stands strong four years in

Good Morning! It’s Wednesday, June 30 and we’ll see intermittent clouds and a high of 70.

After a person tested positive for the Delta variant earlier this month, county health officials are warning that more, undetected cases of the highly contagious variant are likely. Meanwhile, vaccination rates are lagging in two mountain communities and even though it may be a result of a system glitch, health leaders are making proactive moves to get ahead of the potential problem.

Later this morning, if you’re looking for something cool to do with your kids or even by yourself, the researchers at MBARI will be livestreaming a deep-sea underwater expedition.

Here are your headlines:

Four years in, Startup Sandbox remains ‘economic engine’ for Santa Cruz tech biz

Outside Startup Sandbox in Santa Cruz. The bioscience incubator is located at 250 Natural Bridges Drive.
Outside Startup Sandbox in Santa Cruz. The bioscience incubator is located at 250 Natural Bridges Drive.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The Westside bioscience incubator has helped a number of companies since it was founded in 2017, with many so-called “graduates” choosing to anchor their operations in the area, hire UC Santa Cruz alums or both — and without letting last year’s fires or the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way. More from our Neil Strebig here.

Bay Federal Credit Union’s new First Time Homebuyer Program has provided loans for eight new homeowners for a total...

HAPPENING TODAY: MBARI to livestream deep-sea expedition off Big Sur

Deep sea corals at the Sur Ridge.
(Bubblegum coral (Paragorgia arborea) at Sur Ridge, a rocky outcropping off the Big Sur coast. Copyright Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 2016.)

TUNE IN: Scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute invite you along at 11 a.m. as they pilot a remote-control vehicle two-thirds of a mile below the surface off Big Sur in search of ancient sponges, deep-sea corals and other rare creatures. See a preview video and read more about how you cant watch the expedition from our Mallory Pickett here.

Greg Noll, SoCal surfer and legendary big-wave rider, dies

Greg Noll at Pipeline on Oahu in 1964.
(John Severson via LA Times)

Greg “Da Bull” Noll, a son of Southern California who became a surfing legend by combining a gregarious, outsized personality with the courage and skill to ride bigger, more powerful waves that few — if anyone — had ever attempted, has died at 84. Read his obituary here.

State lawmakers secure $14.5 million for homelessness initiatives in Santa Cruz city, county

Someone walks through the homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz on Dec. 18, 2020.
Someone walks through the homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz on Dec. 18, 2020. The city issued an executive order shutting down the 150-person camp by January.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

State Senator John Laird and Assemblymember Mark Stone helped land funding for the Santa Cruz area as part of California’s $262.6 billion budget, which the city and county will divide to help improve and expand services for unsheltered residents. Read more about how the money will be used here.

COVID 2021 Updates

The drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.
The drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Vax rates lagging in San Lorenzo Valley, or data glitch? Health brass try to head off troubling trend: Santa Cruz County data shows lower COVID vaccination rates in Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek, but a data issue could be at least partly to blame. Either way, with the Delta variant raising the threat level, health officials are looking to rev up outreach in the San Lorenzo Valley. More from our Mallory Pickett here.

Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Public Health Director

First Delta case confirmed in Santa Cruz with more ‘very likely’; officials renew vax calls: With undetected cases of the contagious COVID-19 variant “very likely” in Santa Cruz County, officials again reminded that being fully vaccinated provides strong protection against serious illness from the Delta and other variants. More from Mallory on this development here.

Around the state...

Blue Ridge Hot Shots crew members from Arizona join forces with California firefighters
A Forest Service hotshot crew from Arizona works on a backfire operation north of Mt. Wilson on Angeles Crest Highway in 2020. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

HAPPENING TODAY: Biden seeks to boost federal pay for fighting wildfires as West braces for fire season: Facing a shortage of hotshot crews as the West braces for a devastating fire season, President Biden on Wednesday will announce plans to boost firefighters’ pay to a minimum of $15 an hour. The extra money, which would be delivered through bonus payments, is aimed at keeping more people on the front lines. Read more from the LA Times here.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Assemblymember Rob Bonta.
(Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters)

California bans government travel to states with laws deemed discriminatory to LGBTQ people: California is expanding to 17 the number of states to which it is restricting government-financed travel because of laws deemed to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said this week. Read more here.

Students walks through the Meriam Library courtyard at Chico State University

California lawmakers tout big college spending, but key items get zero dollars this year: Lawmakers say their budget deal with Gov. Gavin Newson will expand enrollment at public universities and create a debt-free grant. But those items aren’t getting a dollar this coming year. Instead, bill language says the money will come next year. Other major investments are in this year’s budget, though. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Cruz County service area is building partnerships with community and government organizations...

Around the county...

Santa Cruz residents to decide fate of cannabis tax dollars (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Watsonville Nature Center reopens to the public, readies for expansion (The Pajaronian)

Can Santa Cruz survive a strong earthquake? (KION-TV)

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