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Morning Lookout : Keeping an eye on Santa Cruz County’s approach to this moment

Happy Tuesday, folks!

It will be another warm and humid one around the county, with a high of 77 predicted for downtown Santa Cruz.

While much of the Bay Area, and the state (and now even New York City), have rewound the clock to pre-June 15th living, Santa Cruz County health officials are taking their time to figure out what’s next — and staying the course with only an indoor masking recommendation.

We’re pestering Drs. Gail Newel and David Ghilarducci this week to share their latest thinking on whether we’re headed back indoor masking here shortly and everything else related to the Delta variant, the vaccination push and back-to-school concerns.

We’ll also ask them about the growing push for all health workers to be vaccinated, as Kaiser joined that movement on Monday.

If you have any questions, send them this way and we’ll try to incorporate them into our reporting.

Coolest story out of Tokyo today: Simone Biles returned to action, performed well and collected a medal in the process.

To the headlines we go...

Bay Area counties mandate indoor masks as Delta variant rages

Santa Ana

Santa Cruz stands pat: Officials in a large swath of the Bay Area announce residents will again need to wear masks in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status. Neighboring Santa Clara and San Mateo are among the counties reinstituting the mandate, but Santa Cruz County is sticking to recommending, not requiring, masks indoors. More on that here.

Vaccine enticement from some community colleges

Cabrillo College's Aptos campus overlooks the Monterey Bay.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Some are offering cash, textbooks to students who get vaccinated: While both the University of California and California State University are requiring students to be vaccinated for the fall term, community college districts are opting for a mix of mandates, incentives and encouragement. More from CalMatters here.

‘Second nature’: By now, the new state school mask rule doesn’t faze many students


Used to it: As California begins to return to fully reopened campuses this month for in-person learning, the state’s mandatory mask rule will continue to be part of the new normal for all K-12 schools, which join a growing list of counties and public places that require indoor masking amid the COVID-19 surge fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant. More from the LA Times here.

Sewage line break along East Cliff causes contamination of Schwan Lake, other waterways

Kayakers and paddleboarders can head out from the Cowell's/wharf area toward Lighthouse Point and beyond.
(Sara Gobets / For Lookout Santa Cruz)

Also water troubles at Cowell Beach: A temporary health advisory was also issued at Cowell Beach late last week due to elevated levels of bacteria, probably unrelated to the East Cliff situation. Swimming and wading should be avoided while the advisory is in effect. More from Neil Strebig here.

PREVIOUS: Capitola Beach bummer: After popular spot gets unhealthy F, is it safe to swim there? (Lookout)

Restoring a sense of belonging

Two older adults sit on a bench near water
(Via Pixabay)

The unsung importance of casual relationships for older adults: Relationships with people you know only superficially can help develop a sense of belonging and provide motivation to engage in activities. Research has found that older adults who have a broad array of “weak” as well as “close” ties enjoy better physical and psychological well-being and live longer than people with less diverse social networks. More from Kaiser Health News here.

Around the county...

Monterey Bay and parts of Big Sur added to expanded killer whale protection (Sentinel)

Photo: Big rig crash closes Hwy 129 (Pajaronian)

Gas prices on the Central Coast continue to rise (KSBW)

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Mark Conley