Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 5/21/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few national stories from NPR.
Masks are here to stay in California until mid-June, despite the CDC’s latest guidance on face coverings. The state’s decision is supported by health officers across the greater Bay Area. “The next month is our chance to further increase vaccination rates,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said. “Wear your mask now, so we can get to June 15 together.” That date is when the state plans to fully reopen the economy. So for now, Californians must continue wearing masks indoors, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated. More details on the guidelines can be found here.
Two doctors in Monterey County addressed the media this week about vaccine hesitancy. Dr. Joshua Deutsch from Mee Memorial Hospital said, in his experience, hesitancy is not about mistrust in science but about convenience and getting guidance from doctors. According to Deutsch, South County vaccination rates are around 62 percent, which is consistent with the rest of the county. Still, he said it’s time to put the “foot to the pedal” to get as many people vaccinated as possible by using new strategies to meet people where they are.
Dr. Martha Blum, medical director of infection prevention at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, said some of the concerns she’s hearing about the vaccine include how it might affect fertility and whether it causes permanent changes to the body. She says there’s no evidence these vaccines cause any issues with reproductive health, noting that women who participated in the trials conceived and that vaccinated people have had healthy pregnancies. To the second concern, she says no, the vaccine doesn’t change your DNA. She says what it does do is produce protective antibodies to fight COVID-19.
While Monterey County remains in the Orange Tier, Santa Cruz County finally advanced into the Yellow Tier this week, the last and least restrictive stage of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Although the move is an important step towards the state’s goal of fully reopening next month, KAZU’s Jerimiah Oetting reports that some businesses, like the Pacific Edge Climbing Gym in Santa Cruz, are easing into the relaxed guidelines cautiously. Santa Cruz and 12 other counties, including San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties, are now in the Yellow Tier. Check out Oetting’s full story here.
Cities on the Monterey Peninsula are looking forward to a busier Memorial Day weekend. In a joint statement issued Monday, the cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel said they’ll be following the state’s guidance on masks. The cities anticipate a very different upcoming Memorial Day weekend (May 29-31) compared to 2020 when hospitals were surging with COVID-19 cases and many businesses were closing. City officials said this year families on the Peninsula have access to open beaches, restaurants and shops.
Also reopening — ten out of the 16 Monterey County Free Libraries’ branches. It’s another sign of progress. The branches will open one to two days a week for limited use. Although people can’t stay all day, they can browse for books and use the computers again. Click here to find out if/when your local library is open.
COVID-19 Case Data at time of publishing:
- Santa Cruz County Cases - 16,159 total, 206 deaths
- Monterey County Cases - 43,662 total, 385 deaths
- San Benito County Cases - 6,082 total, 63 deaths
COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker:
- California - 48.1% of all residents fully vaccinated, 13.5% partially vaccinated (as of Thursday)
- Monterey County - 61% of residents (12+) received at least 1 dose (as of Monday)
- Santa Cruz County - 53.09% of all residents are fully vaccinated (as of Monday)
What makes a home look and feel distinctly Santa Cruz-y? That’s the question the City of Santa Cruz is posing to its residents as it works on new housing development standards. The city said the project is in response to a new state law that supports new housing in communities across California. The updated standards could include requirements on building heights, the number of windows a house can have, or what you can and can’t do with your landscaping. Have your say here.
The City of Santa Cruz also wants community input on how to redevelop the site of its current downtown library after a new library is built nearby. In June of last year, city council decided to construct a new mixed-use building, which will include a new library, affordable housing and parking. The building will replace a downtown parking lot that is currently home to the city’s weekly farmers’ markets. But what should happen to the old library? Weigh in with the city’s online survey.
Cabrillo College is celebrating a historic graduating class this year. For the first time in the college’s 62-year history, 50% of this year’s graduates are Latino. The college is a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution, with Latino students comprising at least 25% of its full-time undergraduate enrollment. Of the 1,240 students in this year’s class, two-thirds identify as female. The college will hold a virtual ceremony online on Friday, May 21 at 4 p.m.
Monarch butterflies are an important local species to the Monterey Bay area. As KAZU’s Erika Mahoney reported earlier this year, monarchs are in trouble; the western population has declined 99% since the 1980s. As a follow-up to her story, Mahoney reported on ways to help — starting right in your garden this spring. She visited Palo Corona Regional Park in Carmel to check out a native garden that people can use as an example of what to plant in their own yards. The garden has become a breeding habitat for monarchs.
It’s that time of year when many young birds, called fledglings, take their first hops away from the nest and learn to fly. The SPCA is asking concerned bird lovers to let the fledglings do their thing — for the most part. Its rehab center in Salinas is currently caring for 30 very needy baby birds. Unfortunately, many of them ended up there by mistake because locals thought they were injured or abandoned when in fact they weren’t.
- If you find an uninjured baby bird on the ground with few or no feathers, try placing it back in its nest. It’s a myth that birds reject their young if you touch them. If the parents do not return, or if the bird is injured, call the SPCA Wildlife Center for help.
- Birds have very specialized diets — do not attempt to feed the baby yourself.
- If the bird has some downy feathers and is hopping on the ground, it is most likely a fledgling getting ready to make its first awkward hops to flight.
Science Friday’s Cephalopod Week is coming up June 18-25, a celebration of marine creatures. The Sci Fri team isn’t traveling around the country this year, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate with Friday’s special show on the 18th, via podcasts and social media. Kick back and kraken to the festivities by listening to this episode of Radiolab titled Octomom, which was recorded in part at the KAZU studio (no squidding!). The episode features Bruce Robison of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, who tells his story about stumbling across a mighty deep sea octopus mom.
With Memorial Day weekend coming up, we will pause our weekly news roundup/newsletter for the next two weeks.
The KAZU Team