Welcome to KAZU's weekly news roundup where you'll find the top local stories of the week and a few select national stories from NPR.
Labor Day is upon us, but it’s not the holiday weekend we expected. Over 13.5 million people are out of work in the United States, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, essential workers continue to be on the frontlines, caring for us at the doctor’s office, delivering our mail and harvesting our food.
The holiday celebrates workers, but it’s also the unofficial end of summer. This year, kids are starting school but not from the classroom. Beaches won’t be filled with umbrellas and picnic baskets this weekend, as local officials limit access during the holiday.
Here’s hoping that next Labor Day will be filled with BBQs, flag football and time with friends and family.
For now, with gatherings still off the table, we continue to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Monterey County Cases (as of Friday): 8,326 total, 58 deaths
Santa Cruz County Cases (as of Friday): 1,923 total, 7 deaths
San Benito County Cases (as of Thursday): 1,146 total, 8 deaths
With flu season approaching, NPR looked into what it could mean to get the flu and the coronavirus. Also check out this video called How To Protect Yourself From Coronavirus That Can Linger In The Air.
California has a new color-coded framework for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities. Under the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” counties move through different tiers depending on community spread.
Tier 1 (Purple) - Widespread
Tier 2 (Red) - Substantial
Tier 3 (Orange) - Moderate
Tier 4 (Yellow) - Minimal
Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties are currently in Tier 1. Still, certain businesses can open with safety modifications. Hair salons and barbershops can open indoors. Aquariums, nail salons, family entertainment centers, restaurants, gyms and cultural ceremonies can operate outdoors. Still a no-go, bars, breweries, tattoo parlors and concert venues. This online tool shows what’s open and what’s not — just enter your county.
Santa Cruz County officials are hopeful they can move into Tier 2 next week, but are concerned about the impact of evacuations on their case rate.
As of Friday morning, over 8,000 residents in Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties are still evacuated due to the CZU Lightning Complex fire. Two weeks ago, around 77,000 residents were evacuated. Firefighters across the Central Coast continue to work hard on the wildfires that erupted the week of August 16. It’s expected two of the Monterey County fires will be fully contained this weekend.
Wildfire Containment as of Friday Morning:
CZU Lightning Complex Fire - 56%
River Fire - 98%
Carmel Fire - 98%
Dolan Fire - 40%
As we mark this progress, the road ahead is daunting for our community members who lost their homes. Between FEMA applications and building permits, the process is long and complicated. Even knowing where to start can be a challenge. But neighbors are coming together to help each other.
“I might learn one thing, then Maria will learn something else, and Kevin will learn something else. And we put those together and figure out what we can actually do,” said Steve Palumbi, whose house burned in the Carmel Fire.
Coming up soon on KAZU News, a story about how to start rebuilding.
In Other News:
A 105-year-old survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is leading a lawsuit seeking reparations from the city and other local government entities for the ongoing devastation caused by one of the most heinous race massacres in U.S. history.
The second event of the 2020 Leon Panetta Lecture Series was held virtually this week. This year’s theme is Decision 2020: A Republic If We Can Keep It. We link to the discussion, which featured former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, at kazu.org.
#ICYMI (in case you missed it), Cal Am customers will see their water bills drop by 10 to 15 percent. The California Public Utilities Commission eliminated a surcharge, known as WRAM. But the change isn’t taking effect any time soon. More details here.
KAZU’s Erika Mahoney produced a national story for NPR this week about the graduate student strike at UC Santa Cruz. Many of the grad students who were fired earlier this year for their labor actions are eligible to get their teaching assistant jobs back this fall. KAZU has been covering this story since January.
This holiday weekend, sometimes it’s the simple things that keep us going through difficult times — better air quality, a phone call with a friend, or an extra day to sleep in.
Until next week,
The KAZU Team