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LOOKOUT PM: Good J&J news, not-so-good Delta news

Our weekday evening look at the day’s COVID-19 developments, both here in Santa Cruz County and beyond, compiled by Lookout Deputy Managing Editor Mark Conley.

Hello, everyone! Hope y’all had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend, though the reminder that it’s almost over is always gloomy. Mark will be taking a couple more well-needed days of rest before he’s back later in the week.

This evening, we start with some good news and some not-so-good news related to the Delta variant. On one hand, Johnson & Johnson came out with new research to show its vaccine is proving effective against the Delta variant. On the other hand, the variant, believed to be twice as contagious as other variants, has now become the dominant cause of California cases.

To the news:

New research finds J&J vaccine has muscle against COVID’s Delta variant

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
A Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Lakewood on March 31. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

GOOD NEWS: In recent weeks, many medical experts started to question whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is administered in a single dose, would be as effective as the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in protecting against the new, highly transmissible Delta variant. But new data released by Johnson & Johnson is a relief for those who received the vaccine. Read more here.

Highly infectious Delta variant spreading rapidly, now California’s dominant coronavirus strain


NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS: The infectious Delta variant has become California’s most identified strain of the coronavirus, a troubling development that underscores the strain’s danger to unvaccinated populations. The Delta variant might be twice as contagious as the initial variants of the coronavirus that spread rapidly around the globe last year. Read more here.

He had 10 minutes to flee the Salt fire. Now his home is gone


‘JUST TWO HOUSES MADE IT’: When Ethan Junkersfeld evacuated his Lakehead home Wednesday afternoon, he never thought it would be the last time he saw it intact. A friend called and woke Junkersfeld from a nap, warning that the Salt fire in Shasta County that had ignited along Interstate 5 was bearing down on their Cascade Cove neighborhood. Read his full story here.

Battery-powered trains could be a climate game-changer. Is everyone all aboard?

Stock image of train tracks
(via Pixabay)

POTENTIAL SOLUTION? In a just-completed test, officials ran a freight train from Barstow to Stockton with an experimental battery locomotive and achieved an 11% reduction in fuel consumption, along with similar reductions in other harmful emissions. The test was a “defining moment for freight rail,” accelerating the industry to eventual zero-emission locomotives, said an official with the company that developed the system. Read more here.

More from around the country...

Death toll in Surfside condo building collapse rises to 28 (CNN)
Oakland Zoo gives out experimental doses of COVID vaccine to animals (New York Times)
2021 MLB Draft: Six best Bay Area college, high school prospects (NBC Sports)
Tesla says autopilot makes its cars safer. Crash victims say it kills. (New York Times)
NHL player dead from fireworks accident, medical examiner’s office says (CNN)

That’s all for tonight, folks. Have a great evening and we hope you enjoy the last hours of this long weekend before it’s back to work tomorrow.

Lookout Santa Cruz Staff