Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup for 1/8/21. Here you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.
If you’ve ever had your home broken into, you know the feeling. Your house feels violated and never again the same. On Wednesday, a pro-Trump mob invaded the U.S. Capitol. They paraded on the floor of the House of Representatives and occupied the offices of the speaker and the senate majority leader. Time will pass, investigators will analyze the failures and the nation will move on, but the “People’s House” will never feel the same.
Congressman Jimmy Panetta was in his office on Capitol grounds on a Zoom call about the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when someone loudly knocked on his door with the news. He recounted the story over the phone with KAZU’s Erika Mahoney as rioters were still roaming Washington, D.C. Panetta, who represents the Central Coast in the House, said he immediately told his staff to follow orders and evacuate, but felt it necessary that he stay and continue to do his job.
“I think that when we have a president in the White House who understands what it means to serve the people and not just himself, as we will with President Biden, when we have a Democratic majority in the House and in the Senate, we will have a foundation upon which we can get things done for the American people and reestablish their faith in the democratic process of governing,” Panetta said.
Despite the harrowing day, our congress members went back to work to finish what they had started -- counting and certifying the Electoral College votes. It’s official, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become the next president and vice president of the United States.
What the remainder of President Trump’s time in office will look like is unknown. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would move to impeach Trump if he didn’t resign “immediately.” Congressman Panetta tweeted Friday that he was on a call with congressional colleagues about holding the president accountable.
Security questions are top of mind as we begin to reflect on Wednesday’s events. People around the world and Americans are pointing out the stark contrast between how the pro-Trump extremists were treated by police compared to Black Lives Matter protesters during last summer’s demonstrations. NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed Eddie Glaude, the chair of Princeton University’s Department of African American studies, about how police responded.
As we look ahead, Democrats will have control of the Senate this year. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both won in the Georgia runoffs; it was the news we thought would garner much of our attention this week. Warnock’s win makes history; he will be the first Black senator representing Georgia. And Ossoff’s win is also a historic first; he will be Georgia’s first Jewish senator and the youngest sitting senator at 33-years-old.
Pat Hathaway, photographer, historian and keeper of memories passed away this week. He was 72-years-old. His California Views Photo Archive contained over 80,000 historic photographs of California. If you have ever seen a historic photograph of Cannery Row, the Carmel Mission or Alvarado Street in Monterey, it was probably from Hathaway’s collection. California Views has photographs dating back to the 1850s. Carmel Magazine featured an article about Pat Hathaway in 2015. It details how he got started in 1970 when he acquired the initial collection from Lewis Josselyn, a Carmel photographer and painter. The future of the collection is uncertain.
The community also recently lost local rancher, businessman and political candidate Jeff Taylor, 61. Part of the Taylor agricultural family, he worked for the family business, then eventually started his own ranch in Carmel Valley. He was also passionate about religion and politics. Taylor ran for Congress multiple times and also ran for governor in the 2018 primary. He was happiest outdoors, according to his obituary.
With California’s rainy season in full swing, you might have noticed the National Weather Service has started adding debris flow warnings to its local alerts. Debris flows are a concern when intense rain falls over a burn scar. In areas burned by recent wildfire the soil and vegetation is charred, meaning erosion is increased tremendously. So when a big storm comes through, a slurry of solids and liquids can mix together causing deadly debris flows. If you live near a recent burn scar here are some tips for preparing for this type of emergency:
- Follow the weather forecast so you know when a big storm is headed your way,
- Know your evacuation zone and sign up for evacuation alerts (Monterey County and Santa Cruz County)
- Find out the exact risks to your home. They could differ from your neighbor. (Monterey County and Santa Cruz County)
And if you want more details on debris flows, KAZU’s Michelle Loxton reported, at the end of 2020, on how they are a significant risk to the Monterey Bay area this winter.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Monterey County have been hovering around the 200 mark for more than a week now. As of Thursday morning, 207 coronavirus patients are in the county's four hospitals, including in intensive care units. That represents more than a doubling of patients since the beginning of December. Dr. Edward Moreno, Monterey County’s health officer, said Wednesday residents should only be leaving home if they absolutely have to. In Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, 77 and 11 people respectively are hospitalized for the coronavirus.
Central Coast counties remain under the state’s Regional Stay Home order, which was triggered when hospital ICU capacity dropped below 15 percent. The Bay Area region (which includes Monterey and Santa Cruz counties) continues to see ICU availability drop and stands at 3.5 percent, as of Thursday. On Saturday, the state will announce their projections for ICU bed capacity in the region. If the state doesn’t see capacity go above 15 percent over a four-week period, the region stays under the lockdown order. San Benito County is part of the San Joaquin Valley region and it’s been experiencing zero percent ICU bed capacity since mid-December.
Skilled nursing facility residents, correctional facility hospital workers and paramedics are just some of the first individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Monterey County. The county has developed a multi-tiered, multi-phased system for vaccination. The county’s health officer said they’re in Phase 1A right now, vaccinating throughout the phase’s tiers one, two and three. Including deliveries expected this week, Monterey County has received over 17,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
COVID-19 Updates as of Friday morning:
Santa Cruz County Cases - 10,108 total, 104 deaths
Monterey County Cases - 31,802 total, 232 deaths
- San Benito County Cases (as of Thursday) - 4,127 total, 35 deaths
Coronavirus concerns are postponing the 2021 Grammy Awards. The ceremony will now take place on March 14 instead of January 31. The Grammys are usually held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but the region is at a breaking point with COVID-19.
Music, movies and new hobbies are just some of the things that got us through 2020 and will help us keep going this year. Morning Edition asked people what they relied on. You can read some of their responses, which range from drawing to beekeeping.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has a new exhibit that creates the opportunity to reflect on the natural events that occurred in 2020. Called “2020 Vision,” it’s a community-sourced virtual photography exhibit. It features photographs from 62 county residents that capture events like the comet Neowise and bioluminescent waves. Each photograph is accompanied with a story from the person behind the camera. Nature has been a refuge during the pandemic.
After years of decline, no monarch butterflies are spending the winter at Pacific Grove’s Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. These small but small mighty creatures usually travel thousands of miles to stay in the Pacific Grove. It’s why the city is called “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” But this year, despite the occasional monarch fluttering through, none showed up to stay. Monarch numbers have been declining in recent years, but local counters were surprised they couldn’t find any at the beloved sanctuary. KAZU’s Erika Mahoney joined counters as they searched high and low for any sign of the orange and black butterfly. Although federal protection for monarchs is years off, they hold hope the butterflies will return to the sanctuary and you can help make a difference.
With all the relentless bad news we’ve been consuming for what feels like forever... it's important we balance that with uplifting and positive news -- we think our NPR programming does a great job of that. This week KAZU News took a moment away from the tough news and brought you a story about backyard exploration. It’s something many can indulge in right now on the Monterey Peninsula, as we continue to be under the restrictions of the state’s Regional Stay Home Order. Join reporter Michelle Loxton as she brings to life the idea of flourishing within the boundaries of a smaller world.
Until next week,
The KAZU Team