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Local Reaction To The Chauvin Trial And Highway 1 Fully Reopens Today

Michelle Loxton
In honor of Earth Day, a photograph of seagulls flying in the sapphire sky at Carmel Beach.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 4/23/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

This week’s guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin marked a historic moment in America. Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the murder of George Floyd. Many view the trial as a defining moment for police accountability and racial justice. Darnella Frazier, who was 17 at the time, captured the video that many say made the verdict possible. Testimony ran for three weeks and it took jurors about ten hours to reach their decision. Following the announcement, KAZU and NPR provided live, special coverage Tuesday. 


Floyd is remembered as a loving father, son and brother. President Biden, who addressed the nation Tuesday evening, shared a story about meeting Floyd’s daughter last year during the funeral. She told him, “Daddy changed the world.” On Tuesday, Biden told her, “Daddy did change the world.”

The world anxiously awaited the announcement of the verdict after a summer of demonstrations calling for justice. KAZU’s Michelle Loxton spoke with Pastor Ronald Britt of Greater Victory Temple Church of God in Christ in Seaside, where he has worked for over 30 years. He also spent 23 years as a deputy sheriff for Santa Clara County Department of Corrections. Pastor Britt said, “Justice finally prevailed for the people of color.” But added, “I'm not rejoicing, celebrating in the sense, because me being a man of God, the Bible tells us not to rejoice when your enemy fall or stumble.”


Just before Chauvin was convicted of murder, a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black 16-year-old. Police released body camera footage of what unfolded. Police Chief Michael Woods said, “Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a 16-year-old girl lost her life yesterday. I sure as hell wish it hadn't happened." Columbus activists want the Department of Justice to investigate the police department.


A reward for getting a shot. Read on to find out how many residents in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties are vaccinated in our new COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker.
Credit Erika Mahoney

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In local COVID-19 updates, California State University and University of California announced yesterday that they will require students and employees returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19. CSU’s announcement explained this requirement is based on full approval of one or more vaccines by the FDA and enough supply. It noted there would be an exception for students or employees who can’t get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. CSU plans to announce their final decision on whether it will return to in-person instruction this fall on May 10. 


Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Ed Moreno said the county still has a way to go before it can enter the Yellow Tier. The county is currently in the Orange Tier. Dr. Moreno said even though the county meets several of the requirements for the less restrictive tier, it needs to lower its number of COVID cases. The adjusted case rate is currently 2.7 per 100,000 people. It needs to be less than 1 per 100,000 to move into the Yellow tier. Even if it reaches that threshold, the county will have to maintain that level for two consecutive weeks before it can move out of the orange and into yellow. 


Salinas Valley Memorial Clinic is now helping people make COVID-19 vaccination appointments over the phone. The clinic, which is part of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, can vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day according to its President/CEO Pete Delgado. Anyone over the age of 16 in California is now eligible to receive a vaccination and can register online at or call 831-771-3885. As a reminder, 16 and 17-year-olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine. 

COVID-19 Case Data at time of publishing:

COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker:

  • California - 34.9% of all residents fully vaccinated. 20.3% partially vaccinated (as of Thursday) 
  • Monterey County - 54% of residents (16+) received at least 1 dose (as of Monday)
  • Santa Cruz County  - 57% of all residents received at least 1 dose (as of Monday)

A rally will take place tomorrow at Colton Hall in Monterey to protest the rise in racism and attacks against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Speakers include Monterey City Councilmember Tyller Williamson, Cal State Monterey Bay lecturer Ajit Abraham, Central Coast Congressman Jimmy Panetta and more. Panetta recently hosted a roundtable with local AAPI leaders about the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. During that discussion Panetta said, “While Congress is trying to root out such violence and venom through legislation like the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, we must work at all levels to provide answers and solutions to our local communities.” Tomorrow’s rally will start at 11 a.m. and attendees are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

President Biden has pledged that the United States will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emission in half by 2030. Speaking to NPR before the announcement, Biden's national climate adviser, Gina McCarthy, said halving U.S. emissions was a realistic goal. "Many would think that that's not doable. But I would argue that there's opportunities for us to be able to be very aggressive in what it is going to take for that opportunity," she said. You can read more about Biden’s announcement here. He made the pledge on Thursday — Earth Day. 


Earth Day offers a time to think about our daily actions and develop better habits to protect the environment. Reducing food waste can make an impact. WBUR’s Here and Now put together a handy list of tips to make better use of ingredients, like saving cheese rinds to flavor soup. Also included, three “no-waste recipes.”   


Santa Cruz County has launched a new disaster preparedness and recovery website. The site was developed by the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience, which was established in the wake of last year’s CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Through this website, residents can find resources and connect with other disaster survivors. The site is also a place for locals to learn about upcoming events and sign up for emergency alerts.

Monterey County’s Toro Park reopened on Monday after about eight months of closure and the county has released a short documentary sharing the park’s journey from wildfire destruction to healing. Called Wildfire to Wildflowers, the video looks back at how the River Fire tore through the park; shares details about the recovery process; and shows what is now on display. Most designated trails are open and visitors can access the park from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the summer. Find fee details here


Highway 1 in Big Sur fully reopens today, Friday, April 23. A section of the roadway at Rat Creek has been closed since a January storm washed both lanes out.
Credit Brandt Bates

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Beginning Friday, you can take Highway 1 from Monterey all the way down the Big Sur coast. It’s been about three months since a debris flow washed out a section of the two-lane highway near Rat Creek. Today, Caltrans will reopen the road at noon, about two months ahead of their first estimate. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney has been following the developments, from just after the January storm left a 150 ft. chasm in the roadway to yesterday’s report about the reopening. Mahoney interviewed Diana Ballantyne, general manager of Fernwood Resort, who said the reopening will help the community move toward a sense of normalcy. Her message to travelers — “Remember that Big Sur is not a series of Instagram photo ops. It's an experience.”


More and more organizers of the different 2021 Car Week events have started to reveal their plans for this year’s event, which is scheduled to take place August 6-15. That includes the third annual Concours at Pasadera, which announced this week that more than 100 cars and motorcycles will be juried on August 6. According to the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the governor's recent announcement that the state will fully reopen by June 15 has many event planners optimistic and planning to move forward with programs, while providing flexibility with ticket holders, pending restrictions. Prior to the pandemic, Car Week attracted 85,000 visitors to Monterey County who spent more than $53.5 million locally, according to the visitors bureau. 

This week we heard more from the two grand prizewinners of this year’s NPR Student Podcast Challenge. Anya Steinberg created "He's Just 23 Chromosomes," the story about her search for her biological father — sperm donor 3046. The other winner, Miriam Colvin, created “Competition with the Best,” a deep dive into a little-known run-in between some rough farm boys from Indiana and 14-year-old Cassius Clay, who would later be known to history as Muhammad Ali. Find their winning podcasts here


Until next week,

The KAZU Team