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Local Wildfire Prep, And Long Summer Days In The Monterey Bay...No Mask Required

Jerimiah Oetting
At the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, people are lining up to celebrate the first weekend without pandemic restrictions after California dropped the Blueprint for a Safer Economy this week.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 6/18/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR. 

On Sunday, Dads of the Northern Hemisphere will get a little extra sunshine. Father’s Day falls this year on the summer solstice —  the longest day of the year for this half of the world, and the official beginning of summer. Summer solstice is celebrated as the return of the sun and a rebirth after a long winter. 

And it has been a long winter. The celestial event comes just five days after California ended nearly all of its COVID-19 restrictions, which have been in place for nearly a year and a half. Those who are vaccinated are free to go maskless in almost all situations. Capacity and distance requirements for most businesses are no longer required.

There are some caveats to the change. Those who are not vaccinated are still required to wear a mask inside businesses and most public spaces. Businesses can ask customers if they have been vaccinated and request proof of vaccination before allowing them to go mask free. Businesses can also require all customers to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

In what could be a sign of a busy summer ahead, the parking garages are packed. The City of Monterey parking garage in Cannery Row broke its decade-long record for the most vehicles admitted in a single day on Wednesday — the first day after the state reopened. City Manager Hans Uslar said 988 vehicles entered the garage. That’s 250 more cars than the garage’s 2019 peak.
Uslar also indicated that both the Monterey City Library and Sports Center should be fully reopened next month. 

Credit Doug McKnight / KAZU News
Pacific Grove Middle School sign announcing the beginning of the new school year. Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito County School superintendents encouraging in-person classes in the fall.

Parents should expect schools to reopen this fall. School superintendents in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties are encouraging teachers, students and parents to prepare for full-time in-school instruction for all grades this next academic year. They are also encouraging students and teachers to continue wearing masks during the school year — what the superintendents called a common sense approach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that K-12 schools are safe to reopen if they have implemented prevention strategies including masks.

Credit Doug McKnight / KAZU News
Carmel Valley residents listen to a presentation on how to prepare their homes for wildfire season.

As California moves into fire season, KAZU’s Doug McKnight reported on a Carmel Valley neighborhood group that is helping residents protect their homes from wildfires. The Carmel Valley Robles Firewise Group held three Defensible Space Boot Camps last Saturday at the Carmel Valley Village Fire House. Firewise is a national program administered by the non-profit National Fire Protection Association.

Credit Jerimiah Oetting / KAZU News
The Louden Nelson Community Center in Santa Cruz will get a new, more accurate name this Juneteenth, after London Nelson, the correct spelling of the man the center honors.

A landmark community center in Santa Cruz is getting an edit for accuracy. The Community Center, formerly known as Louden Nelson, honors a significant figure in Santa Cruz’s history — one of the city’s first Black residents, whose long journey out of slavery to Santa Cruz is the stuff of legends. There’s only one problem: his name wasn’t Louden Nelson. At this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration at Laurel Park, leaders of the Black community will honor Nelson by rectifying a spelling error that's followed his legacy for nearly 200 years, by renaming the community center, and saying his name — London Nelson.

Introducing Jerimiah Oetting - KAZU’s newest reporter. Oetting is a recent graduate of the science communication master’s program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His background is a mix of journalism and science. Before his pivot back to journalism, he worked for several years as a biologist with the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, where he monitored forest health across California and studied endangered and endemic species on public lands in the West. Recently, he created a podcast series for Point Reyes National Seashore, and worked on a number of local journalism projects and regional science reporting. Oetting is passionate about local journalism and is looking forward to serving the community.


COVID-19 Case Data at time of publishing:

 COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker:

  • California - 56.5% of all residents fully vaccinated, 10.5% partially vaccinated (as of Thursday) 
  • Monterey County - 63% of residents (12+) received at least 1 dose (as of Monday)
  • Santa Cruz County - 52.6% of all residents are fully vaccinated (as of Monday)

Here’s to a Father’s Day weekend with long days in the sun, no mask required.
That’s this week’s Friday News Roundup.


See you next week,

The KAZU Team

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