Liza Monroy and family in bed
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Omicron’s parenting purgatory, shelter closures and a UCSC discovery

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Good morning! It’s Monday, June 20 — a holiday for many as the federal government observes Juneteenth — and Santa Cruz County has another sunny day ahead, with temperatures ranging from the 70s to the low 90s and headed higher tomorrow.

We’re starting this new week off with the first part of a two-part series from Lookout’s parenting columnist, Liza Monroy, who details her family’s jarring experience with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 — and the parenting purgatory that came with it.

Meanwhile, Grace Stetson reports, a pair of Santa Cruz homeless shelters is set to close over the next week, amounting to a net loss of 252 of the county’s 638 total shelter beds. As one county housing official puts it, the focus is now on devoting resources to more intensive services elsewhere.

And UC Santa Cruz scientists are key players in a study that used DNA from a 100,000-year-old skull to uncover the impact of the interbreeding of polar bears and brown bears — research that could inform how we protect species in the present.

We’ve got all that and some good stuff you might have missed over the weekend, so come along as we hit the headlines.

The Omicron experience: Families with young children — including mine — still face pandemic purgatories

Liza Monroy and her family in bed
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

In the first of a two-part series on parenting through Omicron, Liza Monroy writes about the jarring experience of COVID hitting her Santa Cruz household, the effects of a “lost month” on her family, and the lingering impact. Read Part I here.

MORE FROM LIZA: Find her previous Santa Cruz Parenting columns here

Shelter closures show new homeless response plan in midstream

An overhead shot of the National Guard Armory
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County-run programs at the Oceana Inn and the National Guard Armory will close their doors by the end of this month, amounting to a net loss of 252 of the county’s 638 total shelter beds. Says county Housing for Health director Robert Ratner, “We have to stop taking our money and investing it in one-time-only things; we have to corral the limited money we have invested in a strategic way.” Grace Stetson reports.

RELATED: Unhoused Santa Cruz: A ‘proper place’ for the homeless? Push to spread the burden stirs NIMBY backlash (Lookout)

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Surprise discovery: All living brown bears share polar bear ancestry, UCSC scientists find

UC Santa Crus scientists studied the skull of Bruno, a female juvenile polar bear that lived 100,000 years ago
(Pam Grove / Via UC Santa Cruz)

Bruno, a 100,000-year-old polar bear, is at the root of a breakthrough understanding. UC Santa Cruz scientists Beth Shapiro and Ming-Shan Wang led the study that shows that interbreeding of the ancestors of polar bears and brown bears leaves an imprint on brown bears to this day. Here’s Shapiro’s Q&A with Hillary Ojeda.

MORE FROM CAMPUS: Time names UCSC professor Karen Miga one of its 100 most influential people of 2022 (Lookout)

Mosaic project Watsonville Brillante aims to represent city’s entire cultural heritage

Detail of the mural on the Second Street parking garage in downtown Watsonville
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Transforming an anonymous parking garage, artists led by Kathleen Crocetti are creating a gigantic, quiltlike representation of Watsonville’s human story, a portrait of the city’s soul created with small pieces of ceramic tile. This “mind-blowing” work might be the most ambitious public art project in Santa Cruz County’s history. Wallace Baine delivers another installment of his Icons of Santa Cruz series.

ALL THE ICONS: From the surfer statue to the ukulele to the Pizza My Heart T-shirt, find them here

Reduce stress! Find your groove! Play your cat’s food container!

photo of Jim Greiner
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Jim Greiner, master percussionist, thinks we are all too stressed. He implores us to find our inner child and offers quick techniques to connect with our individual life rhythms. He also teaches us how to transform cat food into a musical instrument. Watch his Community Voices video here.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Letter to the editor guidelines and how to submit one

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As Colorado River reservoirs drop, Western states urged to ‘act now’

The Colorado River flows through the Mojave desert on the border of California and Arizona
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The federal government is telling seven states, including California, to make plans for drastically cutting water use along the Colorado River within two months. Our partners at the Los Angeles Times have the details.

MORE: Did California learn anything from the last drought? ‘Gambling’ with water continues (Los Angeles Times)

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Around the county ...

SLVUSD to use $25 million bond for school upgrades (The Press Banner)
Proposed tax on empty homes debated in Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Local)
Keeper of the light for Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Everything you need to know about the Warriors’ NBA championship parade in San Francisco (SFGate)
‘Discriminatory in nature’: San Jose looks to repeal decades-old cruising ban (San Jose Mercury News)

And that’s what I know this Monday morning. Keep tabs on everything Lookout has cooking throughout the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and 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.

To ensure you’re staying informed about all the goings-on in Santa Cruz, consider becoming a Lookout member. Our content isn’t possible without community support.

Enjoy your Monday, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz