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Morning Lookout: Burgeoning COVID cases in Santa Cruz and statewide

Good Morning! Happy Friday the 13th, y’all! Anyone planning to get a tattoo today? The good news is the forecast today can’t be considered “unlucky” as the National Weather Service says to expect a mostly sunny day with a high of 81.

A couple national news stories of interest: Firstly, the FDA has authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine shot for some people who are immunocompromised. And, latest on #FreeBritney: the pop star’s father, Jamie Spears, has agreed to step down as his daughter’s conservator — though not immediately.

Locally, we heard from public health officials about burgeoning COVID-19 cases, the Delta variant and more. County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel even explained why she has not followed the lead of other Bay Area counties by issuing another mask mandate.

Before we get to headlines of the day, if you’re still trying to figure out your weekend plans, Lookout’s Team BOLO has you covered with this week’s Best Bets that include events for date night, family night or just a relaxing night with friends. And if you’re not signed up to get the Best Bets newsletter that goes out every Thursday, you can do so here.

With that, here’s your news:

What we learned from county health officers Thursday about Delta variant, vaccine rate, etc.

Clockwise from top, David Ghilarducci, Gail Newel, Jen Herrera and Mimi Hall.
(Screengrab from Thursday’s presser)

Santa Cruz County health officers held a virtual news conference yesterday to discuss the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, and ways for community members to help combat the spread. Our Grace Stetson breaks down all the major takeaways from the press conference including vaccination rates in the county, whether parents of young children should be extra worried about the Delta variant and more. Read the whole thing here.

NEWEL EXPLAINS: Mask mandate problems with enforcement: During that same press conference, Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel explained why she has not issued another mask mandate even as other Bay Area counties are making the move and many concerned residents have voiced their desire for such a mandate. Read more here.

Since May 21, the Midtown Fridays Block Party has brought fresh life into the parking lot located at 1111 Soquel Ave.,...

Coronavirus case rate among unvaccinated Californians is six times that of the vaccinated

ICU nurses all over California are overloaded.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The chasm in coronavirus case rates between unvaccinated and vaccinated Californians is continuing to widen, state data show, as some officials move to require the shots for both work and play. For the week ending Saturday, the average case rate among uninoculated residents was 51 per 100,000 people per day as compared to 8.2 cases per 100,000 among vaccinated people. Read more here.

ANOTHER COVID READ: How to show vaccination proof amid California COVID mandates (LA Times)

Around the state and nation...

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers a speech during a rally at the Barrio Action Youth and Family Center in El Sereno

Could Latino voters make the difference in whether Newsom survives California’s recall election? Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California at 39% of the population, and a growing share of the electorate at about 28% of registered voters. The group has been disproportionately sickened and hurt financially by the pandemic that fueled the drive to recall Newsom. Democrats who want to keep Newsom in office and Republicans trying to oust him are all vying for Latinos’ votes in the Sept. 14 election. Read more here.

Woman stretches on yoga mat
(via Pixabay)

Yoga classes, therapy and 401(k)s: California businesses beefing up benefits to attract workers: Businesses across the state are rebounding from the pandemic slowdown, but are struggling to fill job openings, especially in the service industry. Several factors may be at play, including enhanced unemployment benefits, uncertainty around child care and concerns about COVID-19 exposure. Businesses are now responding with social media pleas, hiring incentives, bonuses and new benefits. Read more here.

An illustration of U.S. Census Bureau data
(U.S. Census Bureau)

2020 Census shows slow growth and declining white population; now redistricting frenzy begins: The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed data yesterday on last year’s population count, paving the way for a frenzied rush to redraw congressional and legislative districts and shape the political landscape for the next decade. With California losing a congressional seat for the first time in its history, many are watching which region — and which incumbent politicians — might be disadvantaged by the new maps. Read more here.

Around the county...

Watsonville’s policing committee releases report, readies recommendations (The Pajaronian)

Rare whalefish seen in the Monterey Bay by MBARI’s deep sea rover (KSBW-TV)

Longtime Aptos musician Brent Pierce goes solo (Good Times)

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

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