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Morning Lookout: Health official addresses COVID unknowns; eviction moratorium to be lifted this week

Good Morning! It’s Monday, September 27 and you’ll see intermittent clouds and a high of 72.

With the tide turning, yet again, on the COVID-19 pandemic in Santa Cruz, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about booster shots for the 65+ age group, vaccines for the 5-11 age groups and another cold season ‘round the corner. County health officer Dr. Gail Newel answered those questions and more. An eviction moratorium that was in place for many months because of the challenges of the pandemic will be lifted this week and that could spell disaster for many. But local groups are working hard to inform those at risk about their options before deadline.

Also, when the Black Lives Matter mural in Santa Cruz was vandalized, the artist felt the vandals were sending a message. But, now she wants restorative justice to be practiced as the alleged vandals head to court next month.

But first, a story that impacts a lot of people in the community:

‘Kids pretty much on their own’: Leaders grapple with Pajaro Valley’s pandemic-fueled youth violence crisis

The mourning of many loved ones lost was part of the Romo Park vigil.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

While PVUSD administrators continue to sort out details for a pilot program that will return an armed police officer to campus, pairing them with a mental health clinician at the Aptos and Watsonville high schools, the wider community remains deeply divided about how best to approach campus safety. Those who see it up close talked to Lookout’s Mark Conley and Hanna Merzbach about what they view as the biggest challenges to fixing the problems that ail so many kids growing up in Watsonville. Read the whole thing here.

Presented by Santa Cruz Symphony

October 3, 2021 at 2 p.m. marks the first “Spotlight on the Symphony Recital” with a live performance at Cabrillo’s...

‘They need to clean it up’: To BLM mural artist Abi Mustapha, restorative justice is the answer

READ THE STORY: ‘They need to clean it up’: To BLM mural artist Abi Mustapha, restorative justice is the answer
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

After jumping through many hoops, artist Abi Mustapha finally got the permits she needed to paint a Black Lives Matters mural near the Santa Cruz public library last year. Then, two alleged vandals destroyed the mural. The preliminary hearing for the two alleged vandals of the BLM mural in Santa Cruz is slated for Oct. 7 and Mustapha feels strongly that this is a perfect opportunity to put restorative justice practices to use. Read more about why she says she hasn’t yet accepted community help to fix it.

ANSWERED: When to wear a mask, when children can get the jab, and more from County Health Officer Gail Newel

Gail Newel speaks to the assembled media on Thursday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Over the past few weeks, Santa Cruz County has seen an increase in vaccination rates and a decrease in daily COVID-19 case rates. But what does that mean for the county trends and how should residents prepare for the colder fall and winter months? What about vaccines for kids? And a booster shot for the 65+ community in town? These are just some of the questions County Health Officer Gail Newel answered for Lookout here.

Eviction moratorium ends Thursday; what Santa Cruz County tenants need to know

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse

California’s eviction moratorium — meant to protect renters during the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented amid increased unemployment — is set to expire Thursday. Throughout the county, advocates such as the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County are working to inform those at risk about their options before the deadline. Read more from our Grace Stetson here.

‘At your own risk’: Spate of deaths reminds that the North Coast’s stunning beauty is offset by a dark side

The beaches of Davenport are alluringly beautiful but can become very dangerous where land meets water.
(Mark Conley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Following three fatal incidents on Davenport Beach, Panther State Beach and Laguna Creek Beach in the span of eight days, first responders implore North Coast beachgoers to stay out of the water and off the rocks. “You just have to sort of understand that if you’re going to these isolated beaches, with no lifeguard service, that you really are going near the water at your own risk.” Read more from Lookout contributor Haneen Zain here.

Wildfires and environment

(Via Pixabay)

Lightning could spark more California fires as world warms: Fire officials are bracing for the worst as scientists predict that climate change could cause more lightning strikes, which often ignite deadly, unpredictable and remote wildfires in Northern California. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

Smoke from a wildfire
(Via Pixabay)

PG&E charged with manslaughter in Shasta County fire that killed four: The Shasta County district attorney’s office has filed 31 criminal charges against Pacific Gas & Electric for its role in the 2020 Zogg fire, which killed four people and destroyed more than 200 buildings. The charges include 11 felonies and 20 misdemeanors, as well as multiple enhancements and includes manslaughter charges for the deaths. Read more here.

Around the county...

Santa Cruz man brandishes shotgun at Jack in the Box drive-thru (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Dam demolition in Santa Cruz Mountains benefits endangered salmon (KSBW-TV)

High school students in Santa Cruz build underwater remotely operated vehicles for ocean experiments (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
Lookout Santa Cruz

Presented by UC Santa Cruz

Set for September 24, the event is an opportunity for new and returning students and the community to connect with...