King Tides Roll In. President Impeached Twice. Pacific Grove Cop Out.
Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 1/15/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.
Within the final days of President Donald Trump’s time in office, the House impeached him for a second time. He’s the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. KAZU brought you live, special coverage from NPR about the developments. The House voted 232-197 on Wednesday to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Ten Republicans and all Democrats voted in favor of the historic decision, including Central Coast Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley).
“Through this vote, we are not only holding the President accountable, we are abiding by our constitutional responsibility to secure and strengthen our democracy for our posterity,” Panetta said. You can watch the Congressman's speech on the House floor.
The sounds and images from last week’s Capitol breach are a lot to take in.Code Switch produced a 32-minute podcast “From The Fringe To The Capitol,” where hosts discuss police, “terrorism” and white nationalism.
Come next week, a new president will be leading the nation. KAZU will bring you live, special coverage of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden. It’s anticipated coverage will begin around 8 a.m. PST.
Security is a top concern at the event and across the country. About 20,000 National Guard members from all over the country are expected to be involved in securing Washington, D.C. Governor Gavin Newsom has called for up to 1,000 California Guard Members to protect the state Capitol. The FAA is enforcing a “zero tolerance policy” for disruptive airline passengers after several incidents of violent behavior. And Airbnb is canceling reservations in D.C. as officials request that people don’t visit the area next week.
As tensions swirled on the East Coast, Mother Nature brought tense waters to the West Coast. King tides arrived locally at the start of the week, triggering a Coastal Flood Advisory along with a High Surf Advisory.
Pacific Grove bills itself as America’s last hometown and in many ways it’s true. With summer street fairs and old seaside Victorian homes, the city could easily be mistaken as the setting of a Hallmark movie. But there has been trouble in Pacific Grove. The city’s police department announced this week that one of its officers is no longer employed at the department.The officer was being investigated for allegedly posting racist comments on the social media app Parler. It marked the second time he was investigated in the last eight months.KAZU News’ Doug McKnight covered the development of the officer’s departure on Thursday. Tune in Monday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered for a deeper dive into the controversy.
As of Wednesday, Monterey County has been allocated over 24,000 COVID-19 vaccines. In Santa Cruz County that number is over 16,000. Both counties are following schedules laid out by the state. The state announced this week that it’s prioritizing individuals 65 and older to receive the vaccine, but only as demand subsides for those currently being vaccinated -- healthcare workers. Monterey and Santa Cruz counties have not yet moved onto this older population because they're still working to vaccinate all healthcare workers. Officials say they’ll be able to increase vaccinations locally once they’re allocated more doses and the private sector starts vaccinating, essentially meaning you’ll be able to get the shot from your primary care physician.
The Monterey County Health Department launched an online portal for residents to indicate how interested they are in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The portal is not an appointment page but will provide notifications when additional tiers are opening in the vaccination process.
Nursing students from Hartnell College have been volunteering with COVID-19 vaccinations in Monterey County. They’ve been administering hundreds of doses of the vaccine to first responders, like firefighters and EMTs, at special clinics in Salinas, Castroville, Greenfield and King City. And before Christmas, they helped vaccinate Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System employees. The community college says students have been lining up to be of service and gain valuable experience, adding that there’s even a waiting list of those wanting to help.
Monterey County released some guidance for businesses on how to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccination process. Available in English and Spanish, the tips include forms that have to be filled out and how to keep abreast of the vaccine schedule.
Many Americans are still on the fence about getting the vaccine. NPR’s Michel Martin interviewed the founder of Boost Oregon about how to talk with friends or family who are hesitant.
On Tuesday, the Greater Sacramento region exited the state’s regional stay home order; locally, the Bay Area region is still in it, indefinitely. The region around the California State Capitol was able to emerge from the order because of improved ICU bed capacity projections. Locally, ICU bed availability has been yo-yoing this past week in the Bay Area region. On Monday it was 0.7 percent, and then on Tuesday it was 4.7 percent. The state is expected to give an update on metrics later today. When a region exits the order it moves back into the state’s tiered system called a Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Monterey County’s environmental health division has created a data dashboard of local businesses complying with COVID-19 safety protocols. The main purposes are to let the public know the health department is out doing inspections and to spotlight businesses who are following safety guidelines. The searchable dashboard lists those who haven’t completed all the appropriate COVID-19 documentation as well as violators. The county said they’ve inspected over 2,600 sites since September 2020.
COVID-19 Updates as of Friday morning:
- Santa Cruz County Cases - 11,447 total, 111 deaths
- Monterey County Cases - 34,959 total, 249 deaths
- San Benito County Cases (as of Thursday) - 4,698 total, 41 deaths
CAL FIRE has suspended burn permits in San Benito and Monterey counties less than a month after they lifted suspensions. The localCAL Fire division said they made this decision because of the recent increase in fire behavior and the “lack of meaningful precipitation across much of the Central Coast.” Just this week, fire crews responded to a two-acre vegetation fire in Corral De Tierra off Highway 68. This latest incident is a reminder to Californians to always be ready for wildfire (even in the rainy season). Five of the state’s largest wildfires were recorded last year. The burn permit suspension will remain in place until conditions abate.
2020 has taught us how important getting outside and doing activities are for our mental health. If you’re looking for a new class, Santa Cruz’s 2021 Winter/Spring Activity Guide is out. It features more virtual classes, like Crafting Your Life After 55. In-person classes like Skatedogs Skateboarding are available too. Registration is now open.
UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) has developed virtual tours of their Younger Lagoon Natural Reserve -- a 72-acre living laboratory and outdoor classroom, as they call it. Pre-pandemic, visitors could go on guided tours of the reserve’s beach and lagoon, but that was suspended in March 2020. The creation of the virtual tour, available in English and Spanish, was an effort to maintain public access. UCSC undergraduate student Ernesto Chavez-Velasco acts as a virtual guide taking you to visit the Saltwater Marsh, the Coastal Prairie and a coastal stack to name just a few stops.
If you’re looking for another idea to take your mind off all of the hard news, NPR recommends All Creatures Great And Small. The showtells the story of James Herriot and his life as a vet in England. It’s the second television version of Herriot’s adventures; the first ran from 1978 to 1990. NPR reviewer Linda Holmes describes the new one as “soothing.”
In an animal rescue close to home, a Western Screech Owl, that was hit by a car, has been released back into the wild. The local SPCA Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center performed intricate eye surgery and nursed the owl back to health. The crash happened last November when a driver heard something hit his car. He found the small screech owl and got help. So, when the SPCA released the owl, they invited the finder along. Watch the owl take flight back into nature.
Until next week,
The KAZU Team