Fall Weather. COVID-19 Outbreak At Watsonville Nursing Facility. Answers to Election Questions.

Oct 9, 2020

Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 10/9/20. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.

Fall is in the air. The trees are just beginning to turn different colors and the ocean has a moody feeling. Temperatures dropped earlier this week, a reminder that winter is ahead. And like the characters in Game of Thrones, it is time to prepare.  

Medical professionals warn a combination of the normal flu season, cold weather driving people indoors and holiday celebrations could produce a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases; they’re urging people to get their flu shot. This week, two significant outbreaks occurred on both sides of the country. The White House has become a coronavirus hotspot while locally a skilled nursing facility in Watsonville alone accounts for nearly half of the deaths in Santa Cruz County.

As of midweek, a total of 46 residents at the Watsonville Post-Acute Center and 15 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the county. Nine of the residents have died as of Friday. State and local public health officials are working with the center and the California National Guard is also providing support. 

COVID-19 Updates as of Friday morning:

Pop-up, drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites are now open in cities across Monterey County. Anyone 18 or older, with or without symptoms and regardless of immigration status can get tested for free. County officials said the turnaround time for results should be about two days. Click here for the schedule. It’s one way the county is trying to increase coronavirus testing. 

Already, there are good signs of high voter turnout for the election, according to Monterey County Registrar of Voters Claudio Valenzuela. As of Wednesday, over 8,000 residents had returned their ballot. Normally, he said, the office receives a “couple thousand” ballots in the first week.

KAZU’s Erika Mahoney reported on where you can return your mail-in ballot and where you can vote in-person. She continued her conversation with Gail Pellerin, Santa Cruz County’s chief elections official about the options voters have. The online story has helpful links to ballot drop box locations, early voting centers and more information for Monterey Bay area voters. 

Up until November 3, we’re answering election questions:

Q: Ballot Drop Boxes are now open. Do I have to return my ballot to a specific one?

A: No, you can return it wherever is most convenient -- near your home, your office or the grocery store. Fun fact, California voters can return their ballot to any drop box or voting location in the state.  

Q: What happens if I receive two ballots in the mail? Can I vote twice?

A: It’s possible to receive two ballots in the mail if you updated your voter registration after your county election office mailed you your ballot. But, you can’t vote twice. Think of it this way -- every ballot essentially has a barcode representing the voter. So once that’s scanned, you’re prevented from voting again. 

Q:  Will I be contacted if there’s a problem with my ballot?

A: Yes. Make sure to include your contact information on your ballot envelope so your election office can easily reach you. 

Follow KAZU on Twitter and Facebook for public media voter events, information about ballot propositions and other key deadlines to stay on top of this election. 

The Dolan Fire in southern Monterey County is 98% contained after burning 124,924 acres. The estimated full containment date is Tuesday, October 13. Over 4 million acres have burned in California this year. NPR reported on why some scientists say focusing on these record-breaking numbers can do more harm than good. 

The Ventana Wilderness Alliance Wild & Scenic Film Festival kicked off Thursday night. It comes as the Dolan Fire devastated parts of the Ventana Wilderness. You can watch the films (14 shorts and 3 VIP screenings, which includes the feature film Into The Canyon) on demand on your computer through Tuesday, October 13. Get out your popcorn and an HDMI cable if you have one to connect your computer to a bigger screen. KAZU is a sponsor of the film festival.

A slight chance of patchy drizzle is in the forecast for early Saturday morning. Earlier in the week, the first rain of the season was expected, but that’s no longer the case. Now, sunny skies will shine down Sunday and the highs should be in the mid 60s to mid 70s. A nice weekend to enjoy the beginning of fall, take in the rolling waves, and live in the moment before we need to get out our winter jackets. Just remember, take your mask.

Until next week,

The KAZU Team

P.S. While you’re out and about, snap a beautiful picture and send it to us! Your photograph could be featured in our newsletter. Email us at newsletter@kazu.org.