Monterey Bay mask mix-up. UC lecturers strike a deal. And Monterey honors trans rights.
Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 11/19/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR.
Masks are no longer required inside public buildings in Monterey County. The county board of supervisors voted 3-2 to suspend the requirement this week. The board’s reversal comes after criticism that the mask mandate was tied to COVID-19 Community Transmission reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those reports are at odds with local transmission reports from the state.
The board is expected to receive a report on local metrics of COVID-19 data at its meeting on Dec. 8 and may reimpose the mandates based on local reporting.
The county strongly recommends people wear masks in indoor public settings, and reminds residents that masks are still required for county employees and residents inside all county worksites and facilities.
Wondering about local case rate information? Find KAZU's own COVID-19 tracker below. You can also find a larger version on our website.
Meanwhile, to the north...Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel issued a surprise mask mandate that will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. Citing the upward trend of cases and hospitalizations, Newel said in a statement that a winter surge “appears to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our community.” The health order requires all individuals to wear a mask when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. That includes at home if people from outside the household are present.
The statement from Santa Cruz County also pushed for all eligible individuals to seek a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccination. The Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots earlier today for everyone 18 years of age and older who received their second dose at least six months ago.
University of California lecturers “strike” a deal. The University Council-American Federation of Teachers union, which represents 6,500 lecturers across the UC system, reached a tentative agreement at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, narrowly averting a planned two-day strike. The agreement came after two and a half years of negotiating, and sets wage increases and other benefits for UC lecturers over the next five years.
Roxi Powers, the co-chair of the UC-Santa Cruz division of UC-AFT, said activists in Santa Cruz were fully prepared for the strike before it was called off. “It was pretty bizarre and surreal,” she said. “Out there with all of our sound equipment, food, signs, pickets — all dressed up with no place to go.” Instead, she said their noon rally was a celebration.
The agreement includes an average 30% pay increase for lecturers over five years. It also includes a $1,500 signing bonus and paid family leave, among other benefits. But Powers said the agreement also provides lecturers with a more straightforward and secure path toward long-term employment.
“I don’t think there’s any dispute among any of us leaders that it was absolutely the hardest lift,” she said. “As more and more people are hired and they don’t get churned out, they’ll experience our win on (rehiring rights) as the most important.”
Monterey County is celebrating its first-ever Transgender Day of Remembrance on Saturday. County Supervisors Luis Alejo and Wendy Root Askew will raised the transgender pride flag above the Monterey County Government Center Friday at noon, alongside members of Salinas Valley Pride and the Civil Rights Office.
Eric Mora, the board secretary for Salinas Valley Pride, said he was “really proud” of the county for publicly honoring the day. “I think Trans Day of Remembrance really gives an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the unique challenges that our trans siblings face,” Mora said.
This year has been the deadliest year for trans people on record, with at least 45 known homicides of trans people since the beginning of 2021. Most of those deaths were among trans women of color. Transgender Remembrance Day was created in 1999 to memorialize those who have been murdered due to anti-trans violence
A possible shakeup for city council elections in Monterey. The City of Monterey is considering switching from an at-large method of selecting city council members to a district method. Under the district method, residents vote for only one council member representing their district. The city began its consideration at this week’s meeting. It comes after the city received a letter from the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) requesting the change. The council is expected to complete the examination by February of next year.
Need a free Thanksgiving meal? Food Not Bombs in Santa Cruz has you covered. The organization hosted holiday meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, because other providers were shut down due to COVID-19. “Usually the holidays are when people actually do feed the hungry,” said Keith McHenry, the organization’s founder. “We provide food all the rest of the year.”
Volunteers can join-in at the Little Red Church starting at 10 a.m. next Wednesday and 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Food service starts at noon and goes until 4 p.m. They’re also seeking donations. “We need tents, blankets, tarps, socks and warm clothing,” McHenry said, adding that he’s noticed a large increase of homelessness following the pandemic. “Sometimes three or four new people a day approach us for tents. I’ve been doing this 42 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Food Not Bombs operates daily at lot 27 at the intersection of Front and Laurel Streets on the south end of Downtown Santa Cruz.
This weekend will be sunny and warm, the perfect weather for ice skating. Ice Skating by the Bay’s seasonal ice skating rink will open at the Custom House Plaza in Monterey tomorrow. The rink will be open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m. including holidays. It is located behind the Portola Hotel and Spa near Fisherman’s Wharf. Admission price for adults is $15 and $13 for children under 12. Skates rent for $5.
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The KAZU Team