The vandalized Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: BLM vandalism arraignment today; California drought updates

Good morning! It’s Wednesday, Jan. 5, and a foggy start should give way to a mostly cloudy day with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s around Santa Cruz County.

This morning marks the next step for the two men accused of vandalizing the Black Lives Matter mural in front of Santa Cruz City Hall last summer, Lookout’s Grace Stetson reports, as they face arraignment. Keep it tuned to Lookout for updates on this developing story.

As ever, the Omicron surge has our attention, and with COVID-19 cases at record levels across California and the U.S., the next few weeks are “absolutely critical,” experts say.

And it’s been plenty wet across the Golden State, but that doesn’t mean California’s drought is over just yet.

So let’s get to the headlines:

Arraignment day for accused BLM mural vandals

Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner are due in court Wednesday for an arraignment hearing.
(Via Santa Cruz Police Department)

Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner are scheduled for arraignment this morning, facing felony vandalism charges with a hate crime enhancement for damage caused to the Black Lives Matter mural in front of city hall. Lookout’s Grace Stetson has the latest in the case.

PREVIOUSLY: Men accused of vandalizing Black Lives Matter mural to stand trial (Lookout)

As the community continues its efforts to enhance & expand the county’s public library facilities, Friends of the Santa...

Next few weeks ‘absolutely critical’ in COVID surge

A line for COVID testing
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

California has reported a massive backlog of 237,084 new coronavirus cases, pushing the seven-day average of new infections to 50,267, a record high. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times talk to experts about what’s ahead.

MORE: As Omicron wave inundates California, here’s how you can protect yourself and others (Los Angeles Times)

No, California’s drought isn’t over. Here’s why

A photo taken on July 13, 2021 shows the extremely dry conditions near Pogonip in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Although the snowpack is 150% of average, the forecast isn’t all that rosy, and conservation still lags. Our partners at CalMatters survey the situation.

RELATED: California adopts drought rules outlawing water wasting, with fines of up to $500 (Los Angeles Times)

How long will California’s water rush last?

Skiers and snowboarders enjoy fresh snow
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

“Not getting paid for three months and then getting a normal paycheck doesn’t put you back to normal in your bank account,” one Stanford scientist says. The Times runs the numbers.

PREVIOUSLY: Will winter storms end California’s drought? Officials conduct first snow survey (Los Angeles Times)

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

While the holidays can be a cheerful time for many, they can also be some of the most difficult times for others. Kaiser...

With sexually transmitted infections off the charts, California pushes at-home tests

A woman doubles over in pain
(Via Pixabay)

A new law makes California the first state to require that health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover home STI tests. But some details still need to be worked out. Read more here from our partners at Kaiser Health News.

MORE HEALTH & WELLNESS COVERAGE: Holiday binging over, nutritionist Magali Brecke reminds us how food and wellness intersect (Lookout)

Around the county ...

Alleged Capitola Mall bandits under arrest (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Rosca de Reyes, a tradition on the Central Coast (KION-TV)
Birichino Winery’s pinot noir served at the White House (Good Times)

And that’s where things stand this Wednesday morning. Keep tabs throughout the day on the BLM vandalism arraignment and more by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And you can get Lookout delivered directly to your phone and inbox by visiting our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center.

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Stay safe out there — see you back here tomorrow morning!

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz

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The State of California, specifically the Public Utilities Commission, has proposed a set of regulatory changes – NEM 3...

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