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What KAZU News Found When We Combed Through Local COVID-19 Data

Doug McKnight
'A FRESH AIR cut' by Phillip Benson, barber & musician, at his shop on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

On the long list of routines shaken up by the pandemic is how much data we consume. Since the spring, we’ve been overloaded with COVID-19 data, marking somber milestones. This week, California became the first state to surpass 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

It’s a lot to process, both emotionally and simply trying to make sense of the data. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney interviewed Dr. Judith Canner, a statistics professor at Cal State Monterey Bay, this week. Canner helps put it all in perspective and addresses the lasting impacts of the state’s recent reporting error, which led to a backlog in test results. 

“We can’t just get so caught up on a certain percentage or certain rate that we forget that there are people who are suffering,” Canner said.

When you study COVID-19 data for the Monterey Bay area, Latino and Hispanic communities continue to be disproportionately affected. KAZU’s Michelle Loxton looked into why in a feature story; the reasons range from language barriers to housing. 

Public health officials in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties announced more deaths this week. On Friday, Santa Cruz public health officials said that COVID-19 contributed to the deaths of a woman in her late 90s and a man in his early 60s. This week, Monterey County public health officials announced the deaths of six adults. 

Santa Cruz County Cases (as of Friday): 1,371 total, 989 active, 8 deaths

Test Positivity Rate: 4.06%

Monterey County Cases (as of Friday): 5,890 total, 41 deaths

Test Positivity Rate: 10.05%

People should not hesitate to see a doctor over lack of insurance or worries about cost, according to the Santa Cruz Public Health Services Agency. Help is available through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  

Support for locals and small businesses during the pandemic has come in a variety of forms, and creative thinking has enhanced new ideas. In the City of Santa Cruz, a new program called “Slow Streets” provides more space on neighborhood streets for people out walking or biking. The City of Monterey may temporarily make Alvarado, the main downtown street, one lane to help local restaurants expand outdoors. Haircuts are happening outside and yoga classes are taking place beneath trees. 

Credit Erika Mahoney
Yoga studios have moved classes outdoors. It might take a little more work to center yourself, but the setting is one of a kind.

Speaking of the outdoors, it’s going to be a hot weekend as California ushers in a heat wave. If you’re heading to the beach, it’s wise to check out what’s currently allowed. In Carmel, new rules and fines are in effect. Although beachgoers can still use the beach for activities like running and surfing, they’ll have to forgo any picnic plans and sunbathing.

And on that note, wedding receptions are still off the table. The Monterey County D.A.’s Office has received complaints about venues that are planning to host parties. Ceremonies are allowed as long as they are outside; guests wear face coverings and maintain social distancing. Essentially, you can tie the knot with safety precautions in place, but no gathering afterwards.

In normal times, Lincoln Center in New York City would be humming with music on warm summer nights. Instead, volunteer musicians have been performing free mini concerts for essential workers. You too can hear some of the show.

Thinking of inviting your friends over for a bounce house party? Think again! The Monterey County Health Department is warning families about bounce houses. Health officials say, in this pandemic summer, bounce houses should be limited to those in the same home or social circle. They recommend frequent cleaning and hand washing. That’s on top of the other safety precautions -- make sure it’s properly inflated.

It appears elementary school children won’t be able to head back to the classroom just yet. The state is offering a waiver process for elementary schools to offer in-person learning if their county is on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist. But, both public health officers in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties say it’s not likely they’ll approve any waivers because local case rates are too high. 

In Other News:

Earlier this year, hundreds of students at UC Santa Cruz demonstrated at the base of campus for higher payer for graduate student workers. 41 of the striking students were fired for their involvement. Now, those students have a chance to get their jobs back. KAZU News covered the development, and the grad students say they’re not giving up the fight. 

Coming Up Next Week:

KAZU News will air a special series called “Older and Overlooked.” The series looks into how California is ill prepared to protect elderly people who live in high-risk wildfire areas. Tune in Monday through Friday during All Things Considered, which airs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 90.3 FM or stream live at

Credit Beth LaBerge/KQED
Mark and Kathy Allen hold a photo of Mark's parents at their home in Sebastopol on July 29, 2020. Mark and Kathy evacuated Mark's mother and several other residents of the Villa Capri retirement community as the Tubbs Fire approached in October of 2017.

Big News: 

A historic week in politics as California Senator Kamala Harris launches her VP candidacy. She’s the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and the first South Asian. KAZU News brought you presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s live announcement about the news on Wednesday afternoon. The election is now less than 90 days away. 

Ballots in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties will be mailed out to every active registered voter in early October. 

Until next Friday,

The KAZU Team