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Friday News Roundup

A Tragedy at Aptos High. Masks in Monterey. And California’s Forests Are Closed.

pine_ridge.jpeg
Jerimiah Oetting
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KAZU News
The popular Pine Ridge Trail in the Los Padres National Forest is included in the order that shutdown all California national forests through Sept. 17

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 9/3/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR.

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 9/3/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR.

We’re reflecting on a somber week in the Monterey Bay region, after a stabbing at Aptos High left one 17-year-old student dead. Few details have emerged since the homicide on Tuesday. Two suspects — aged 14 and 17 — are in custody and will be charged with murder. A motive remains unclear, but Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said the two suspects had ties to gangs.
Less than 24 hours following the tragedy in Aptos, a student pulled a knife on another student at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Watsonville. The two events appear to be unrelated.

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Jerimiah Oetting
Signs of support at Aptos High School

After an investigation, Salinas High School said 27 of its students were involved in a series of racist videos and photos. A statement on Facebook from the Salinas Union High School District apologized to the Black community for “impacts caused by the actions of students who participated in this unacceptable racially insensitive and intolerant incident.”

The incident involved a black doll that students called “Shaniqua” that was painted with exaggerated racial features, and with facial tattoos and an ankle monitor. Videos and photos of the doll were found on social media.

Of the students involved, 15 are Latino, nine are white, two identify as multiracial and one is African American. The district’s statement said that the school has met with the students and their parents and informed them of punishment. In addition, all students are required to participate in anti-racist education training.

The State of the Pandemic (from the CDC COVID Data Tracker):

  • Vaccinations: % eligible (ages 12+) who are fully vaccinated

    • Santa Cruz: 74%
    • Monterey: 66.4%
    • San Benito: 59.6%
  • Cases: Number of new cases in the seven days preceding Sept. 1

    • Santa Cruz: 491 new COVID-19 cases, a 22.75% INCREASE from the previous week
    • Monterey: 550 new COVID-19 cases, a 13.2% INCREASE from the previous week
    • San Benito: 107 new COVID-19 cases, a 3.6% DECREASE from the previous week
  • Hospitalizations: Number hospitalized in the seven days preceding Aug. 31

    • Santa Cruz: 16 new hospital admissions, a 100% INCREASE from the previous week
    • Monterey: 37 new hospital admissions, a 7.5% DECREASE from the previous week
    • San Benito: 3 new hospital admissions, a 57.1% DECREASE from the previous week
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Doug McKnight
CSU Monterey Bay President Edwardo Ochoa cut the ribbon officially opening the new Otter Student Union. The grand opening ceremony occurred as students returned to on-campus classes after 17 months of remote learning.

Almost 4,000 CSU Monterey Bay students are participating in on-campus classes for the first time in a year and a half. The campus was closed in March 2020 as the COVID-19 virus swept through the country.

Vaccinations are required for all students, faculty and staff unless they receive an exemption for religious or health reasons. Anyone claiming an exemption is required to take weekly COVID tests. In addition, all buildings have been upgraded with improved air filtration systems and everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status, is required to wear masks indoors.

But as KAZU’s Doug McKnight reports, there have already been 11 positive test results on campus since move-in day. Read more and listen to McKnight’s story here.

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Anne Beulke
The Ventana Wilderness, part of the Los Padres National Forest will be closed alongside all other national forests in California until Sept. 17

Bad news for that Labor Day weekend camping trip: all California national forests are officially closed. The U.S. Forest Service issued the order earlier this week, closing the 20 million acres of public land it manages in the state until Sept. 17. This includes the Los Padres National Forest – home to many popular hikes in Big Sur, and one of the few lucky areas in California not currently choked with smoke.

The order cited safety issues due to ongoing wildfires in many of the national forests, and that Forest Service personnel are stretched thin across the state. It notes that hot and dry fire conditions are likely to continue in the coming weeks.

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Prachatai: licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Monterey County supervisors will consider an ordinance at a special session next week that would mandate masks in indoor public spaces. They voted unanimously in favor of an indoor mask mandate earlier this week.

Masks are on the horizon for Monterey County. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors signaled unanimous support for an indoor mask requirement this week that would mandate face coverings in all indoor public spaces, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. “I look at our numbers and they’re alarming,” First District Supervisor Luis Alejo said of COVID-19 cases in the county. “We’ve had 46 deaths since June 30 — 46 deaths too many.”

County supervisors will consider an ordinance at a special session next week following the Labor Day holiday. If passed, Monterey County will join Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County, where a mask mandate has been in place since Aug. 20. The move would bypass County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno, who argued less restrictive methods are effectively slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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Monterey Bay Aquarium
A puffling.

On a lighter note, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is celebrating the birth of a tufted puffin chick. Called a “puffling” (!), the baby bird is featured on the aquarium website. The female hatched on July 19 and is being kept behind the scenes, while she learns to swim and take food from the staff. Caretakers will put her on display once she acquires her initial flight features.

In the wild, tufted puffins nest along the north Pacific Coast. They grow to be 14 to 15 inches and weigh 1 to 2 pounds. Puffins are known for their bright orange beaks and feet.

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That's it for this week's FNR.

Until next time,
The KAZU Team