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Monthly Archives: July 2020

The name of the victim of a fire at a home in Albion has been released. The Albion Fire Department on the scene July 11th after Sylvia Stanley’s home burned. Her son Mike was apparently at home asleep. A body found in the fire, but a positive i.d. could not be made right away due to the extreme conditions. But now the Mendocino County Sheriff confirmed the body was 39-year-old, Mike Stanley. The Daily Journal reports Sylvia has been ill with cancer too.

Another death due to COVID-19 has been reported in Mendocino County. The Mendocino County Public Health Dept. posted another death from one of the patients at the Sherwood Oaks skilled nursing facility. That makes 3. It’s not included on the county’s coronavirus dashboard yet, but the county’s now had 9 people died due to the pandemic. The dashboard continues to show the most cases in the LatinX community, nearly 180 out of the total 299 cases. 7 people are currently in the hospital, but none in the ICU. There are 66 active cases. There’s testing this weekend in Laytonville and Redwood Valley.

Unemployment looking up in Calif. The Employment Development Department reports 7 million people have filed initial claims since March. There’s also been a backlog in processing those, but the Governor says they’ll hire a lot more people to deal with that. This past week saw nearly a quarter million more people file first time claims, but it was down more than 40,000 from a week before when 289,600 workers filed claims. Across the country there were more than 1.4 million claims, up 200,000 or so from a week before. Lawmakers of both parties have been complaining to the governor that there needs to be a better way to get thru the massive pile of claims that have been filed since March.

State experts being called to Sonoma County as outbreaks of Covid-19 continue unabated at skilled nursing facilities. The Press Democrat reports the Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase told reporters the state would be helping after 25 residents at the facilities died. So far 32 people have died in the county due to complications from the virus. The county had reportedly asked for help from the state early this week. Dr. Mase says it’s to try to slow the spread of the virus at the facilities and help them “get out of the outbreak mode and move toward recovery. The state is the regulatory authority for such facilities. And the newspaper reports the county’s on the lookout for al alternate care site as some of the facilities are quite cramped.

Several hundred goats are being deployed along the 101 between Healdsburg and Geyserville to eat brush. A firebreak project is bringing in 400 goats to much away the dry vegetation thru next week. They were brought in to clear about an acre and a half and will stay there until it’s gone along with a guard dog and goat herder. There’s also temporary fencing in the area to help keep control the animals. It’s not the first time the agency has used goats. In May, they were also brought in, that on hills near the entrance of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

A section of a Northern Calif. highway’s being resurfaced using recycled plastic. Caltrans says they’re experimenting with sustainable highway construction, which involves grinding the top 3 inches of the highway, topping it off with the plastic mix and other ingredients and packing it down. It’s reported to be the first time it’s been done on a highway in California. The State Department of Transportation says if it’s a success and shows its durable, they’ll do more of it. Right now it’s just a 1,000-yard section in Butte County of Highway 162 near the Oroville Airport near the town of Oroville.

The state Supreme Court says public employees cannot add on to their pensions by working extra hours, then cashing out unused vacation or sick leave time ahead of retiring. The court relied on a previous law from 2013 that says pension spiking is not allowed. The law set up to close loopholes and to prevent abuse in the system. When employees work a bunch of overtime and stockpile vacation and sick leave time, but cash out later, it’s thought to inflate annual salaries so their pensions were at about what they were making while working or in some cases, even more.

The Governor has announced hiring a strike team to tackle the pile of unemployment claims that have been filed amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The legislature is also set to discuss the issue today after complaints that computer systems aren’t working properly and claimants cannot get through on the phone preventing claims from being filed. Yesterday the Governor spoke on the matter saying there should be no barriers between Californians and the benefits they have earned. The strike team will draft a plan within 45 days for improvements for the state Employment Development Department.

The filing period to get onto the November ballot in Mendocino County has begun. Actually it started nearly three weeks ago, and ends next Friday. The Assessor-County Clerk Recorder Katrina Bartolomie sent out a reminder to the press yesterday. It says if an incumbent doesn’t file for their seat, the filing deadline is then extended through August 12th. They’re trying to do a lot of the filings over email and snail mail due to the pandemic to limit in-person office visits. You can make an appointment over the phone. And as a reminder, if you want to serve on a local board, to call the office and they’ll email an application.

The US Census is happening now. We have a few more months to gather information and Census officials are trying to get more people to provide their data.  Lake Co News reports the response rate in Lake County has been at about 45% compared to the state at 64% and the national rate at 63%. The US Census happens every decade to find how many congressional seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as how legislative districts are drawn. The deadline was supposed to be happening sooner, but now because of COVID, it’s been extended until October 31st. Counties in Calif. with low response rates were Mono, Alpine, Trinity, Plumas and Sierra. 

Those participating in the marine fishery in Calif. but have lost money due to the Covid-19 pandemic can get relief from the CARES Act. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is distributing money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The fisheries got about $18 million in CARES Act funding. The state agency says they may have more than 11,500 applicants who are eligible to get some of the money. That also includes individuals who work in the offshore, shoreside, aquaculture, commercial passenger fishing vessel and guide sectors. Those eligible have to have lost at least 35% of their fishing related income due to COVID-19 between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2020.

The medical director at a nursing facility in Fort Bragg says the coronavirus outbreak is not yet under control. He said two more residents died, then late last night we got word of a third, for a total of seven who’ve died of the virus.  Two more were also newly diagnosed yesterday. 18 residents and eight staff members have contracted the virus since it started to circulate there July 6th. There are still two residents at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast (Hospital); and another has returned to Sherwood Oaks but is in isolation. The medical director says rumors they had been closed by the State Department of Health are untrue. As we’ve been reporting they’re still in need or more nurses and nurse aids. A state health inspector came out Wednesday and has approved of the policies in place.

Reports of a fire on the railroad tracks in Ukiah looks to have been an arson fire. Firefighters got a call Wednesday to the tracks near Norgard Lane about a mile south of Talmage Road. Fire officials say when they arrived the fire was threatening a home, but the residents didn’t seem to know, so they knocked on their door to get them to leave. Firefighters kept flames away from the house, but some fencing was damaged. The fire ended up charring about three acres and got close to a vineyard before it was put down. Firefighters say there were encampments nearby but nobody was there while they were on the scene. They have no suspects but say they’re pretty sure it was intentionally set.

Confirmation we are in a drought again. The Mendocino City Community Services District has confirmed an existing Stage 4 drought. At their latest meeting they chose people to sit on the Groundwater Management Committee. Water allotments to residents have been cut by 40 percent. As of last week rainfall was at about 50 percent of normal. The District Superintendent was happy with how the community cooperated. Customers only allowed to use 50 gallons a day.

The Lake County Public Health Officer updating the Board of Supervisors on COVID cases, says not much has changed. On the county’s dashboard are 181 positive cases and 13 currently active. Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace says the county has not had a major outbreak, but it’s been close here and there. Dr. Pace says family gatherings are the place where cases are spreading the most, or from other family members who don’t live in the county, but visit. Pace told the board that family gatherings with more than one family group are the riskiest.  He also says frontline workers are at the most risk as the state has had a major surge in cases. He’s encouraging mask wearing, social distance and hand hygiene.

More information has been released about seven people who died in Sonoma County at skilled nursing facilities. The Press Democrat reports the first of the seven died July 23rd, and the last of them this past Monday. All of the patients were over 65 with other health conditions that put them at higher risk. The Public Health Office has not released a lot more information. The newspaper reports many of the deaths were reported late to the public health office because the facilities were overwhelmed. There are 20 skilled nursing facilities that have had outbreaks. In the last week 65 staffers and residents contracted the virus and a little more than that a week before. Assemblyman Jim Wood has also introduced a bill so the nursing facilities are mandated to report sooner. Wood says more than 40% of the people who died in California were from skilled nursing facilities.

Another record for daily deaths has been set in the state. Ten people in six counties, but 51 in LA alone. On Tuesday, the state recorded 164 deaths. And there’s been almost 120 deaths a day for the last week. There’s also been more than 9,000 cases a day, but 10,000 on Tuesday. The daily record for deaths was one week ago, that was 155, then the next day, last Thursday we were higher, 156 fatalities. California has now had the third highest rate of deaths in the U.S.

One of a few rural counties who earlier defied the Governor’s stay home order, now has its first case of coronavirus. Modoc County in northeastern California actually confirmed two cases, both in the same household. And now the contact tracing has begun to find who may have been near the two, who are isolating at home. The county Public Health Department is telling anyone who may have been at one local bar to call them. The county’s director of health services says they’ve been lucky so far and warned residents to “respect and follow” the guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In May the county went against state orders and reopened restaurants and nonessential businesses after six weeks of closure. Yuba and Sutter Counties also reopened early, the two are both on the state’s watchlist.

The Governor is being sued along with others by some charter schools who say funding during the pandemic denies payments for more students. The four charter school organizations suing Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education saying they’re being underfunded and the students who attend are having their constitutional rights violated. The schools and parents of new students asking courts to force Calif. to reimbuse the schools for new students and say lawmakers need to fix it quick. The Gov. had promised reimbursement for pre-pandemic attendance. The schools say they had lotteries, adding more students, and now will not be able to pay for them.

13 more cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mendocino County. We’ve now had almost 300 positive cases. The county’s dashboard has our total at 293 with five people in the hospital, that’s one more than the latest update, but there are zero in the ICU currently. We have had a total of 6 deaths in the county due to complications from the virus. The most cases, over 200 in the Ukiah Valley, the North County and North Coast each has had more than 35 cases, the South Coast, only four cases and South County, 12. There are currently 64 active cases.

Landlords are allowed to toss people from their homes again in Imperial County. The Gov. disallowed the practice during the pandemic and courts have ruled against allowing evictions. But the Imperial County Superior Court is issuing eviction notices anyway to renters and has moved some eviction proceedings further along, violating pandemic judicial protocols. The state Judicial Council had issued an issued an emergency rule barring local courts from most evictions except if there’s a threat to public health and safety. But Imperial County’s evicted at least three people who sued and had their cases rescinded. Courts may be able to pick back up on evictions in 2 weeks unless lawmakers step in.

Remote proceedings continue in Lake County Superior Court along with in person safety measures during the pandemic. Trials were allowed to restart in June, and in the Lake County Superior Court, jury trials were supposed to start up again July 8th. Apparently that didn’t’ happen because the cases were all resolved or rescheduled. If there are any other jury trials for next week, we’ve not gotten a schedule of those yet. Lake Co News reports that should be determined by the end of the week. The court in the meantime is providing essential services right now with a limited amount of cases, social distancing, mask wearing and remote business as much as possible.

There had been a planned increase in the state’s minimum wage and the Governor says it’ll move forward in spite of the pandemic. The Gov. announced he could have suspended the raise in the wage but decided against it. So on January 1st, the minimum wage goes up to $13.00 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and to $14 per hour for businesses with more than 25 employees. There’s also been an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit which the governor reported put one billion dollars back into the pocket of Californians. Those with kids under 6 are also eligible for another $1,000 tax credit.

Three more nursing homes besides Sherwood Oaks in Fort Bragg have reported a positive coronavirus test. Four patients at Sherwood Oaks have died since their outbreak and several others contracted the virus. The Mendocino Voice news site reports the cases were at Ukiah Post Acute Care Center, Mountain View Assisted Living and Memory Care, and Redwood Creek Care Center in Willits. The news site reports Ukiah Post Acute and Mountain View Assisted Living each had an employee test positive.  More information was expected today from the Mendocino Public Health office.

Fort Bragg City Council is taking the whole mask wearing thing seriously, citing someone for being in public without. The City Council has decided to enforce mask wearing in the city and an executive order was passed for no warning period. So if you’re caught without a mask on, or not socially distanced from those not in your immediate family, you could be cited. The city also extended the evictions moratorium, in alignment with the state. But that could end in a couple of weeks. The mask enforcement goes like this, $100 for the first violation, $250 for the next and $500 for the third infraction. Police could just educate though and choose not to enforce. The County has had the first $100 citation. It happened Saturday in the village of Mendocino. The person first educated, but seen a couple hours later without a mask, and was cited.

A man in Fort Bragg’s been arrested after reports of illegal dumping near the Pudding Creek Bridge. Fort Bragg Police got a call to the area and found Shawn Spiller of Fort Bragg who they saw was in a car registered to another person who happened to be in jail in Mendocino County. Police say they believed he did not have permission to drive the car, so they called jail staff. While searching the car, they found drug paraphernalia and suspected methamphetamine and since the man was on probation, they held him. They say they also found a bunch of cordless power tools like some taken from another car a few weeks ago in the city. Jail staff informed police the car was stolen. So Spiller’s been charged with various crimes, including possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, and violation of probation.  

Reports of a car burglary in Ukiah leads police to a couple of minors inside that car stealing stuff. They say the victim confronted the kids and they ran from the scene. Cops found a 12 year old boy matching the description on Nokomis Elementary School grounds. They found several items on him that matched reports of what was stolen so the boy was held and later positively id’d by the victim. Reports later of various other cars being broken into, so property was returned to those owners. Police say the second kid, a 14 year old was found a today trying to break into a car. The 12 year old was charged with theft, vehicle tampering and prowling and released to his parents and the 14 year old reportedly has charges pending.

A man in Fort Bragg’s been arrested for pepper spraying another person. Police got a call Monday to an altercation and found one person had been pepper sprayed behind a business. Deputies say Jeffrey Thomas Wright was accused of causing a disturbance at the business and pepper sprayed someone as he was moving trucks saying Wright wouldn’t leave him alone, screamed at him, then sprayed him and his truck. He got the spray cannister away from Wright and sprayed him back. Wright was arrested for unlawful use of Tear Gas Weapon and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. He was released due to the pandemic.

A man in Fort Bragg had to be given NARCAN after an overdose. Police say they got a call Tuesday night finding a man in a coma with shallow and sporadic breathing so they gave him two doses of NARCAN. They say about 5 minutes later he woke up. He was taken to the hospital for further treatment.

Information from COVID-19 tests are to be reported to the state, but the government is asking for the patients’ race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The secretary of the state’s Health and Human Services Agency says it’s so they can find a way to slow the spread of the virus. Dr. Mark Ghaly says the information will help them see if interventions are working and what the disparities are. Right now the state is not getting race and ethnicity data, but as we’ve been hearing locally, there’s been a disproportionate increase in positive cases in the local LatinX community. In the state, more than half the cases are in the same community.

Seven more deaths of Covid-19 complications in Sonoma County. The public health office says they were four women and three men at various skilled nursing facilities. The Press Democrat reports Broadway Villa Post Acute in Sonoma, Empress Post Acute in Petaluma and Petaluma Post Acute have all reported deaths. The facilities are mandated to report deaths from the virus within 24 hours. Health officials say there were four facilities that had deaths but did not say which ones. Dr. Sundari Mase says they’ve been trying to find a solution, but the county has no jurisdiction over the facilities and urges nursing home administrators to come up with a solution.

A new way to bring money into the state, tax the wealthy. Democratic lawmakers have a new plan to raise taxe rates on taxable income of $1 million and higher. They say this could bring in billions more revenue to help improve K-12 schools and pay for many other government services as the state tries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 15 democrats in the Senate introduced the bill to help find ways to close a massive budget gap before the end of August. The bill would put a 1% tax on adjusted gross income starting at one million, increase it to 3% for those who earn more than $2 million and to 3.5% for taxpayers with income above $5 million. The projected operating deficit for next year is currently projected at $8.7 billion.

A man from Nevada has been killed while riding his jet ski in Sierra County, he was hit by lightning. The man and his son on skis on the Stampede Reservoir. His son was knocked unconscious and “severely burned”. His dad identified as Eugene Arao. A woman on a nearby boat saw it and posted on Facebook there were several other people also injured by the lightning strike, calling it a “horrific tragedy.” Thunderstorms had been reported throughout Truckee and Tahoe over the weekend.

A couple of cities defying the Governor’s stay home health orders aren’t getting state money. The Governor has blocked almost $65,000 from Atwater in Merced County and more than $35,000 from Coalinga in Fresno County. The two cities receiving letters from the state saying they’ll lose more money if they don’t roll back restrictions per the state’s orders, but each city council was staying where they were at. Atwater’s mayor said the Governor was abandoning them. They’ve declared themselves a Sanctuary City.  Merced County just reported its highest-ever hospitalizations. In Fresno County they’re teetering just below their highest level.

It’s Wednesday, the there’s food for kids 18 and younger at Ukiah High. It’s part of the summer program for kids to get meals for the week from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The child does not need to be with their parents who can pick up the food including, chicken, or pork, chili beans, yams, and peaches, plums, or watermelons. They remind to wear a mask and practice social distancing when arriving to get the food.

Assemblyman Jim Wood has a new bill to help protect residents and staffmembers of skilled nursing facilities. Assemblyman Wood says 95% of the facilities report nearly 3,000 residents and over 100 healthcare workers at the facilities have died because of coronavirus. He says his bill which will be heard in the Senate’s Health Committee this weekend requires the facilities to report each disease-related death to the state Department of Public Health (DPH) within 24 hours. And it would in turn require the Department of Public Health to release that information on an internet website each week. He says it would be in a way to shield privacy to help the state get more timely data to respond quicker to the spread of the virus. And they would have to have staff dedicated 24/7 to disease prevention.

A protest of Ukiah teachers ahead of the new school year. Some had signs as they picketed Monday saying “teachers are not expendable.” There had been a plan for partly in person classes for kids in Ukiah, then at the end of last week, it abruptly changed. The school board announced a couple weeks ago a plan for hybrid learning. But the Ukiah Teachers Association is against the plan. The board was almost unanimous in approving the plan to return to in person classes, then four days later announced all distance learning with improvements. And now district officials say they’re still hoping students can get back to in person class sometime this school year, depending. Ukiah education leaders will be on a call with State Senator Mike McGuire this Friday to address the issue. To listen to the discussion live, “dial 844-767-5679, enter code 2463180 and follow the prompts.”

There’s a new coronavirus relief program being set up by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. It will provide support for individuals and families, small businesses, and nonprofits in the county. It’s thru a Non-Profit Relief Grant program which is already taking applications for the first round of money which will be Aug. 28th. The grants will be for local 501c3 organizations working in adaptation, operations, and preservation. So that for new technology or businesses pivoting into other sectors, training for staff in those new technologies or protocols and help for organizations with fixed costs they can’t meet due to the recession. For more info, visit: nonprofit-relief/.

After an outbreak at the Sherwood Oaks Health Center, there’s a shortage of staff. The facility in Fort Bragg has had four deaths and several infections, including in staff members. Since then they’ve lost other staffers too and need to hire RNs, LVNs, CNAs, and reception workers.  They are providing proper personal protective gear including goggles and N95 masks. The facility’s website lists full and part time open positions for the day and evening shift.

If you are interested please contact Terrie Masterson at 707-964-6333 or e-mail terriem@sohcftb. com Lodging may be provided for anyone needing to travel. Visit Sherwood Oaks Health Center website and job postings at https://sherwoodoakshealthcenter. com.

An agreement has been reached for a group out of Oroville to run the homeless shelter in Lakeport when Hope Harbor closes at the end of July. So Elijah House will take over until September 30th at a fee of, at the most, $234,550. Hope Harbor was running the homeless shelter since April and the county asked for more bids from others. Apparently Elijah House was the only taker. They help those with substance use and mental health issues, and they operate a sober living facility in Butte County. The Hope Center will open in September or October, a transitional housing facility in Clearlake where some of those at Elijah House can then transfer when they close.

Something to help the environment, a Low Carbon Transit Operations Program. Caltrans announced more than 140 million in funding for 166 local public transportation projects. They are meant to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in disadvantaged communities impacted the most by climate change. The Caltrans director says it’ll improve transit service for those who need it the most. The Low Carbon Transit Operations Program was created 6 years ago. Three projects to give free or reduced fare rides in Lake County, Humboldt and the city of Arcata.

A couple of coronavirus testing sites are open in Mendocino County this weekend. One will be in Laytonville, the other in Redwood Valley. The Laytonville test site is Friday morning from 9-11 in the parking lot of the Long Valley Health Center. It’s drive thru service, first-come, first-serve. They will be there again August 14th and August 28th. This Saturday morning, from 8-11 am, a testing site will be at the Consolidated Tribal Health Project and the Coyote Valley Tribe in collaboration with Mendocino County Public Health in the Reservation’s gymnasium in Redwood Valley, walk up testing or you can drive thru too, with no reservations required. 

Another nine cases of COVID have been reported in Mendocino County. That brings the total case load in the county to 274. There are also five people in the hospital, and one is still in an ICU. So far the county has had 6 deaths. One at a rehab facility in Marin County, one at Howard Hospital and 4 others after an outbreak at a nursing home in Fort Bragg.

The Governor announcing a couple of weeks ago he prefers for schools on the state’s watchlist to operate only online. That led to a quick turnaround in Ukiah from in person learning in two groups of kids 2 days a week each, to straight up virtual learning after it was announced by the Public Health Officer we would soon be on the state’s watchlist. That happened Friday. Mendocino Voice News has reached out to various school districts in the county for a report. Anderson Valley says they’re starting online August 25th. In Fort Bragg, schools are starting about a week sooner, August 19th, also with virtual learning for at least a month. In Laytonville, the same, but August 24th. Leggett is online, but we don’t have an official start. Mendocino starts August 21 online for 2 months at least. In Point Arena they start online August 19th. Same for Willits, but they’re still deciding on a start date. Potter Valley has no decision, and Round Valley may go in person, considering opening Sept. 8th.

A resident in Calpella is asking for the Mendocino Forest Products wood pellet plant to close during the pandemic. A group of residents gathering now to get the plant near the Coyote Valley Reservation to close while COVID-19 surges uncontrolled. They say it’s because of health concerns, being that the virus attacks the lungs, and the plant puts smoke in the air. Mendocino Voice news reports the plant does meet the official air quality requirements, but the local activists and some state organizations are sending a letter on the matter to the Air District, Board of Supervisors, and several state agencies with their request to stop the emissions.

A man and woman in Ukiah have been arrested after someone saw them toss a rock into a local business. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports Saturday getting a call from the business owner who had surveillance footage of two people ripping off about $1,700.00 worth of wigs. They identified one person as a local transient, Oscar Cabezas-Tafoya. Cops on the lookout for the man, finding him with Luna Magdaleno, who was also seen on the footage. She was also on probation at the time. The two arrested on various charges and booked into Mendocino County Jail.

A Climate Emergency Resolution has been voted on by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. The Climate Action Advisory Committee (MCCAAC) which the board appointed presented the plan. The committee chair said it was an important first step since the board saw how important climate change and climate adaptation are for the community. The plan includes scientific evidence of climate change and the the state’s target of 2045 for carbon neutrality and clean electricity. The plan with a declaration by supervisors of a “climate emergency” that they agree “threatens humanity and the natural and built environments” and joins “a worldwide call for a just transition away from fossil fuels.”

As cases of Covid-19 surge out of control in Sonoma County, the county says hospital capacity is at a new high. The Press Democrat reports the county health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says the surge in hospitalizations is due to large outbreaks at more than a dozen skilled nursing facilities. There were also patients in the county who came from San Quentin State Prison where there was also a large outbreak. The county joined many others a couple of weeks ago to get onto the state’s watchlist so there had to be rollbacks in public health restrictions for several business sectors. Dr. Mase says local hospitals are also having a problem sending patients back to skilled nursing centers, so they stay even longer in the hospital, even if they don’t need to be cared for any more.

You’re not welcome in Tahoe or Truckee from out of town to slow the spread of virus. Placer County and the town of Truckee say tourists should stay away for another 2-3 weeks. They report high visitor numbers even in the midst of the pandemic.  The county put out a statement last week saying they’ve had “an exceptionally busy influx of weekend visitors” so it’s made it hard to “practice safe physical distancing.” They say it’s for those coming for a day without reservations to stay. They say they want people to plan ahead and have a reservation. The county joins others on the state’s watchlist with a 57% increase in hospitalizations and nearly 130% rise in ICU numbers.

Democratic lawmakers are proposing a $100 billion economic stimulus against “future tax vouchers” and other ways for more spending to boost the economy during the pandemic. Democratic lawmakers are the majority. Their plan allows the state treasurer to send out tax vouchers to residents to raise billions. It would allow taxpayers to pay taxes ahead of schedule at a discount. They’ve not homed in on the exact discount yet. The treasurers office says it’s a work in progress and praised lawmakers for their “out of the box” thinking. No new taxes are in the plan.

More coronavirus cases in Lake County. The Public Health Dept. posted 7 more cases yesterday, but the last update was Friday. There have now been 175 cases in the county. 12 are active, 162 are recovered and no longer considered contagious. And the county has had one death. The state’s cases continue to surge, inching up to the 500,000 mark with daily highs posted day after day. As of last night there were more than 460,000 COVID-19 cases statewide and over 8,530 deaths. Mendocino has 274 cases, Glenn has 280, Sonoma 2,617, far more than any other neighboring county and Yolo has about half as many cases, 1,424 cases and 37 deaths, more than Sonoma whose had 24 deaths.

No new cases in the nursing facility in Fort Bragg where there’s been a Covid-19 outbreak. Mendo Fever news site reports no new cases since Friday, but 4 residents are still in isolation in the facility. One has recovered and was moving from isolation today, one patient was stable, but two were reportedly on the decline. Three of the facility’s residents are at Adventist Hospital Mendocino Coast in stable position, but reportedly guarded. The news site reports there have been 13 residents infected and four have died. 8 staff members also got infected and 2 are considered recovered or out of isolation. 

The Rohnert Park Police Dept. has arrested one of their own. Officer David Sittig-Wattson has turned himself in after being accused of embezzling money from the department. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office’s is investigating the accusations against Sittig-Watson. The sheriff’s office says property crimes detectives investigated the officer and sent their work to the DA’s office who charged the officer, who was the former treasurer of the Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers Association. They had requested the investigation after accusations of four years of embezzling.

The Lake County Public Health Officer has been informing the public on demographics of cases after the county had 50 cases. Well beyond that now at 175 positive cases with 24 new cases since the last demographics update one week ago. The office reports there are more females who’ve been infected then males.  There were more cases in those 25 to 34 years old, then, in those 35 to 44 in this last demographic update. The most cases traced to another known case, then the next largest batch of cases is still being investigated. Lower case numbers from on the job contacts and in home, or congregate living, including in the Lake County Jail, where there have been two cases. Clear Lake, Upper Lake, Lower Lake and Hidden Valley Lake have had the bulk of the cases.

An employee at a store in the Lake Sonoma Marina is infected with COVID-19, so the local Marina Store is closed. The Press Democrat reports marina officials confirmed an indefinite closure of the Marina Store Friday after the confirmation of an infection. The Marina Store working with the public health department, did a deep cleaning, but then closed down. Visitors can purchase deli items, alcoholic beverages, fishing and camping gear. Five people work there, and all of them were apparently in contact with the infected worker. They will stay closed until backup workers can be brought in, other virus test results come back negative or all employees are quarantined two weeks. The positive employee was asymptomatic.

15 firefighters in Sonoma County are in isolation after one tested positive. The Petaluma Fire Department was forced to close Saturday after the positive test on July 19th, nearly a week earlier. This means 58 people could not work, so nearby fire agencies had to chip in to help. 

Caltrans has a new plan to move goods. The Calif. Freight Mobility Plan 2020 shows which goods can move by truck, train, ship, airplane, car, bike, foot or robot. The state agency says it’ll strengthen California’s infrastructure and improve upon what we already have, making it more innovative, economically competitive and still protect communities and the environment. This comes amidst the pandemic which the director of Caltrans says has shown just how important the freight industry is to health and economic well-being.

A woman in court Friday admitted she tried to kill a former girlfriend using a knife. Court papers say 48 year old Nichole Birdsall waived her right to a preliminary hearing and pleaded guilty Friday to the surprise February knife attack. Apparently another woman sleeping at the time called 911. The victim had a restraining order against Birdsall who agreed to a stipulation that she will face ten years behind bars. And since it’s a violent crime, there will be limited good time or work time early release. Any credits for parole she gets will be limited to 15 percent. She faces sentencing in September. And is currently held on one million dollars bail in Mendocino County Jail.

A nonprofit in Lake County looking to run a temporary shelter for the homeless amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The Elijah House looking to get the contract with the county approved, for which the county would have to put up nearly a quarter million dollars. The Hope Harbor homeless shelter is closing, so the county had put out a request for bids for an organization to take over operations. The Elijah House bid is $234,550.  The organization is actually based in Oroville, but would operate a center here after Hope Harbor closes at the end of the month. The new shelter would continue only until Sept. 30th.

A couple of passersby help a Ukiah police officer who was trying to arrest someone in Talmage. Apparently the suspect grabbed the cop’s baton July 16th. A report came in that someone saw the guy actively injecting himself with drugs, and cars were swerving to avoid him as he walked in the street. He’s since been identified as 30 year old Michael Langley. He was lured to a safer location where the officer tried to talk to him on the sidewalk. The officer saw a needle sticking out of his pocket, but he wouldn’t allow the officer to take it away and a struggle started. That’s when the two citizens came over to help. The police department said they were grateful for the help. Langley’s charged with threatening an officer, possession of a controlled substance, violating his probation and for two warrants, and was booked into Mendocino County Jail under $15,000 bail.

Another death and 8 more cases of coronavirus. The death reported Sunday along with the new cases. There are have now been 265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mendocino County. The 6th death was from the outbreak at the Sherwood Oaks skilled nursing facility in Fort Bragg where two others also died. There are 4 people in the hospital, and one in an ICU. It also comes as the county was placed on the state’s watch list. That means several businesses have to close unless they can operate outside. That includes public worship, barbers, hair and nail salons, and gyms. Plus there were already requirements on indoor dining and on wineries and breweries. Also there can be no gatherings for weddings and funerals; offices for non-essential workers have to close again and indoor shopping malls.

The Lakeport Senior Center has new management. Lake Family Resource Center will start to oversee operations. The Executive Director says the county’s population is made up of nearly 25% seniors and while expanding services in the middle of a pandemic is challenging, still, they’re excited to help serve the community, especially during these challenging times. They’re offering the Meals on Wheels program to the Northshore and say they’re expanding for others who had joined for onsite dining. They also have offerings on Zoom, like wellness classes. Their Thrift Store in Lakeport is currently open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mendocino Land Trust working in partnership with the Conservation Fund and others had opened the Old Smith Ranch Trail. Working also with the Nature Conservancy and the Smith/Perry family the two mile trail along the South Bank of the Ten Mile River took ten years to come to fruition. There’s a picnic and parking area for those to enjoy the path along the river, north of Fort Bragg. The 49-acre property is part of a larger project to permanently protect the 1,309-acre Smith Ranch, east of Highway One and the Ten Mile Dunes.  

Congressman Jared Huffman is asking for participation in a survey for Coronavirus Relief and Recovery. The online survey so his constituents can answer questions about how they’ve been affected by the pandemic and what the federal government can do to help support his district’s health and economy. The questionnaire is on the congressman’s website. It comes as the CARES Act pretty much ends. This Friday ends the extra $600 a week for those on unemployment. But Huffman says we’re still dealing with historic levels of unemployment with more than one in every 10 people in the country without a job.

The governor had some visitors to his home. Demonstrators chaining themselves to a fence outside his house earlier today because they want inmates released from San Quentin where there’s been a massive coronavirus outbreak. The demonstrators also want an end to immigration transfers. The California Highway Patrol cut the chains off those at the governor’s home in Sacramento. They were there a couple hours before being cut free. The protest organized by the California Liberation Collective had just over a dozen people there, but many others, not chained to each other were also there. So far 19 inmates at San Quentin have died, including another just over the weekend, who had been on death row. The protestors asking the governor to grant mass clemency.

It’s happening more and more, tourist spots having positive testing visitors. A resident from the area tested positive, the first known case at Yosemite National Park. In an email to employees, and on a conference call park managers said the resident works in the town and was in close contact with visitors to the park and others before they got sick. Adminsitrators were not releasing info to the public, someone released it to the Sacramento Bee newspaper anonymously. Sewage tests recently confirmed coronavirus had infected people, but the Mariposa County Department of Public Health didn’t say if anyone inside the park tested positive. The positive test was July 17th. The health dept. says they followed all isolation and reporting protocols appropriately.

The Gov. has announced more than $50 million is going to eight central California counties as cases of coronavirus continue surging out of control. The governor had a press conference earlier today stressing the importance of protecting essential workers as the state depends disproportionately on these workers. He also says certain regions and sectors of business in the state has also been hit hard, such as the Central Valley counties where money will be used for isolation, testing and enhancing healthcare with a nearly $500 million CDC grant the state received.

RCMS is supporting drive through testing in Point Arena:

Sunday July 26th
Point Arena Veteran’s Hall
451 School St

First come first serve: 200 tests available!

Over the last week, Lake County has reported 29 new cases of COVID-19. But the Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace says activity remains manageable. Since the pandemic first arose, the county had confirmed 166 cases. There has been one death. Right now there are 25 active cases and one person is in the hospital in an out of county facility. 140 have recovered. Pace says keeping the cases manageable depends on residents taking action to avoid inadvertent transmission of the virus, continued availability of medical care staff, contact tracers and case management services.  Dr. Pace says local school districts are still deciding what to do, but he suggests no in person learning. He reminds to wear a mask, even for someone with underlying chronic lung disease, he says it can help.

The state legislature is moving forward with an unprecedented measure, allowing lawmakers who cannot be in person at the Capitol, to vote. Legislative leaders agreed after at least seven staffers at the Capitol contracted coronavirus, including one assemblyman who ended up in the hospital. Four legislative leaders will vote on behalf of absent members in the Assembly, and in the Senate, lawmakers can vote for themselves, remotely, but only in committee hearings. Senators have to be in person for final votes on bills.

More and more counties are looking at ways to strictly enforce public health orders as the cases in the state remain out of control. San Francisco, Marin and Napa officials have approved fining people and businesses who violate public health orders. They will fine individuals anywhere from $25 to $500 for violations including to wearing a facial covering. And businesses will face fines up to $10,000. Sonoma County was looking at a similar order yesterday. In San Diego, they have a compliance team in place to go after people or businesses who may have complaints lodged against them.

Another death in Mendocino County from Covid-19. The death reportedly happened here in the county, at Howard Memorial. This is the first death at one of our three hospitals. Two others reportedly died at Sherwood Oaks nursing home, where there has been an outbreak. And another, our first, at a rehab center in Marin County. There were seven more cases reported yesterday for a total positive count of 234. Five people remain hospitalized and one is still in an ICU. There are 105 people in isolation.

The Fort Bragg Mayor and Vice Mayor say they’re running for office again. The Advocate reports Mayor Will Lee and Vice Mayor Bernie Norvell have declared their re-election campaigns. They’re the only open seats on the council on the November ballot. They made their announcement on social media. The mayor on Facebook with a short note and the vice mayor with a picture, also on Facebook with his confirmation papers. They also both noted how the pandemic has hurt the city, but that there had been a balanced budget for two years in a row before that.

A GoFundMe has been set up for local Mendocino artist Larry Fuente. They’re trying to raise $50,000 after a fire gutted his studio and home July 3rd. Around 50 years of his art works and other personal items were destroyed in the fire, but thankfully he was not hurt. There was someone else there at the time who apparently had was in a car that caught fire, which spread. They were treated at UC Davis Medical Center. Fuente just recently had a showing of new works at the Mendocino Art Center and has a piece of art at the Smithsonian Institute. He may be best known for exhibiting his 1960 Cadillac with all sorts of art attached called, “Mad Cad”.

The Gov. says there’s more masks coming into the state even as complaints pile up that healthcare workers don’t have enough. Gov. Newsom blames hospitals saying they’re not distributing them adequately and says the state will start to aggressively track deliveries. He says some workers are only getting 2-3 masks a week and it’s unacceptable. The governor held a press event standing by pallets filled with masks. The press briefing as the state recorded another historic single day of cases, nearly 13,000. And a day after the state passed New York for the most cases.

Clearlake still dealing with its response to the Grand Jury report on tax defaulted properties as the report surfaces on the Lake County Jail, Clearlake City Jail, the holding cells at the court in Lakeport, the Tehama County Juvenile Hall and the Konocti Conservation Camp in Lower Lake. The report says the Sheriff’s and Probation Departments are challenged in recruiting and retaining employees because of low wages and expensive benefits. They said the Probation Department doesn’t have enough children’s programs as promised. That the jail was lacking certain facilities, there had been inmate complaints about overcrowding, and needed more officers in the jail.

Congressman Mike Thompson announced the House passed the Great American Outdoors Act which he co-authored. He says the bipartisan bill invests heavily in the conservation of public lands, including fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He says it will help support local economies. The bill will help Napa and Sonoma Counties and other projects in the 5th Congressional District. It now heads to the president to be signed into law.

Another protest planned by a local Black Lives Matter group in Fort Bragg. It’s to mark the two month anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. The group says there still hasn’t been enough done to improve the situation for Black people in the country. The protest is tomorrow by Town Hall from 3 to 5 p.m. They’re promoting social distancing and ask everyone to wear masks as they’ve been doing the past 2 months.  

DUI arrests in Ukiah are down this year. The latest statistics taken from give years shows 2020 high blood alcohol DUI arrest numbers were way down since January 1st to only 118 arrests to date. There was nearly one arrest per day last year or 28 per month.  The statistics for this year so far calculated that to be 16.8/month, down 41 percent, which may be due to the pandemic.

Another town on the state’s watch list, this one due to tourism. Mono County had a surge in Mammoth Lakes. The LA Times reports it’s mostly due to restaurants in town. There are only about 14,000 people living in the area and has a lot lower cases than most, but like Lake and Mendocino County, there’s been a surge. In Mammoth Lakes, they had 40 cases in 2 weeks, with an infection rate of 8% and a seven-day average from July 12 to July 19th of 11%. There have been 79 cases in all in Mammoth Lakes, so it doubled in two weeks. There’s also been one death. The county reports restaurants in Mammoth, a tourism hotspot, were connected to 65% of the new confirmed cases. The town is now requiring restaurant workers to wear surgical or N95 masks, instead of a cloth one.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has approved a massive land use project. Lake Co News reports it may be one of the biggest in the county’s history and could bring as many as 1,400 new homes, new hotels and almost 1,000 resort and hotel rooms too. The Guenoc Valley Mixed Use Planned Development Project or Maha Guenoc Valley may be in for a fight though, as an environmental group is threatening a lawsuit. The proposal for the 16,000-acre Guenoc Ranch along Butts Canyon Road. The state Department of Justice has also commented on the project with concern about wildfire threat.

Another death in Mendocino County from COVID-19. The Mendocino County Public Health office has confirmed the death of a third patient at Sherwood Oaks Skilled Nursing Facility. Another death at Howard Memorial in Fort Bragg earlier this week. The fifth confirmed last week, which happened at a rehab facility in Marin County. 105 new cases identified in the last ten days.

Dr. Noemi Doohan says there’s been about a ten day to two week lag in testing. Dr. Doohan says some people who have been sick have gone to work or to large gatherings. 60% are from the LatinX community. One person who died was from the LatinX community. Dr. Doohan says they’re doing more now to try to respond better to the LatinX community. She also says that she’s been contacted by the state and the county will imminently appear on the state’s watchlist.

Mendocino County is adding staff to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. After four businesses had employees test positive, the Board of Supervisors were advised the county is stepping up enforcement for those not abiding by the public health order. County CEO Carmel Angelo reported to the board that the Environmental Health Dept. was working with businesses to help with safety precautions and education. The four businesses are Ukiah Natural Foods, Ardzrooni Vineyard in Anderson Valley, Sherwood Oaks Health Center in Fort Bragg where 12 people got infected and Fort Bragg Center for Laser & Cosmetic Dentistry. The county adopted an ordinance whereby folks can be fined if they’re caught without a mask on. Angelo says the Environmental Health Department is also going to help enforce the ordinance. But the priority is reopening businesses. The Sheriff told the board they’re continually reminding people to wear a mask and they’re receiving calls from people about violators. 

Since reports have been circulating on the effectiveness of mask wearing the local economic development and financing corporation got nearly 300,000 surgical masks. They also got 2,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for local businesses throughout Mendocino County. There’s a new campaign, #MaskUpMendocino that looks to educate locals to help slow the spread of the virus. The Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance has a giant sign up to help bring awareness to wearing a mask. The Ukiah Conference Center will be stacked with masks and sanitizer for anyone who wants it. And the Mendocino Business and Government Leaders group is working with the Tourism Alliance, the county Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center for an Ambassador Program to hand out materials to local businesses along with MaskUpMendocino signs, rack cards and posters.

We have a new – old doctor in town. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has appointed a new Public Health Officer. Dr. Andy Coren, a retired, local doctor, well known to the community of Ukiah has been hired. The current Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan says Coren is a “local hero” and he’ll serve the community more fully, because he also speaks Spanish. There are now 227 cases of coronavirus in Mendocino County. There are less people in the hospital though than yesterday. 7 people, including one in an ICU.

Money for enforcing alcohol in public. The Lakeport City council gives a greenlight to use grant money from the Alcohol Beverage Control and Alcoholic Policing Partnership Program Grant. The $25,000 will be used to conduct enforcement and training regarding booze in public. It’ll pay for police overtime on programs in Clearlake and  Lakeport. The Lakeport Police Chief says they’re working with their neighboring city which will be responsible for the fiscal management of the grant. The operation to help prevent non-compliance and help teach local businesses and their employees for decoy operations.

Sonoma County looking to get tough on violators of their public health order. The Press Democrat reports the board of supervisors is considering fines on businesses and individuals who ignore restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus. The meeting today to consider a plan by county staff to establish a central hotline where people can call in to report others not following the rules. Those who violate, could be fined up to $100 for individuals and $1,000 for businesses. They’re also looking at a bilingual public information campaign so locals are educated on safety and health measures like mask wearing. The county is on the state’s watchlist and is dealing with a major resurgence of the virus, more deaths and hospitalizations.

Sonoma County reports the two latest deaths were also residents of senior care facilities. The Press Democrat reports the two were both over 65 years old with other health issues. They died on Tuesday. One lived at a skilled nursing home and the other at a residential care facility for the elderly. This means now that 22 people have died from coronavirus in the county. And most at a skilled nursing or assisted living type situation. 16 out of the 22. Add one more to make 17, they all died within the last month. California is also now ahead of New York, who in the early days, struggled to contain the virus. The total there 413,500 and here, 422,000.

A unanimous vote by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to get tough on those not wearing masks. They overwhelmingly approved an urgency ordinance, which goes into effect immediately to fine those not wearing masks. It allows town, city and county staffers along with police officers to deal with violators of health and safety codes to help slow the spread of the virus. A task force will go out to tips by the public too of businesses that are breaking the rules.  Fines for businesses from $250 to $10,000, and for individuals, from $25 to $500 if they’re not wearing a facial covering in public.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Dept. still searching for whoever may have ignited businesses and destroyed them by arson in Covelo. Round Valley Art Center, North Fork Café and Western Auto Inc all gutted by the fire last Saturday morning in the 76000 block of Highway 162. Deputies and firefighters on the scene investigating, determining the fire was intentionally set. They say it started on the outside of Western Auto behind the property. But they have no suspects at this time. They say they continue to pore thru the wreckage and look at surveillance footage from the area for clues. They have identified multiple persons of interest and continue to ask anyone who may have seen anyone to call. You can remain anonymous. They’re also asking nearby businesses or individuals who may have recording or surveillance equipment to also be in touch.

Another inmate at San Quentin’s death row has died from coronavirus. Calif. corrections officials have confirmed 67 year old John Beames died Tuesday outside the prison, at a hospital. He had been sentenced for a 1995 brutal torture and murder of a 15 month old child in Tulare County. The state Supreme Court upheld the man’s conviction and sentence in 1997. So far there have been 14 virus-related deaths at the prison where there are more than 700 prisoners on death row. The prison itself has 860 active Covid-19 cases and almost 1,200 have recovered. Across the state prison system there are more than 1,900 active virus cases. With that a judge has ordered prison officials to empty or hold up to 100 beds at each one of the 35 prisons in the state for isolating and quarantining.

The Clearlake City Council is sending a long response to the Grand Jury regarding its report about the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office and tax-defaulted property sales. The grand jury was not kind to the city, saying it used the wrong information for its complaint about thousands of properties worth millions in unpaid taxes. The jury also saying the city acted in an inappropriate manner by criticizing the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s job performance. The city manager says the info the city got regarding the tax defaulted properties was from the county and the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office, so they had no reason to doubt the information. The response letter is posted on Lake Co News.

Schools in Willits starting up online. Ahead of a special school board meeting, the board was not planning on any action for the new school year, but then did, deciding on a Monday, Aug. 31st start with distance learning. The school superintendent says their aim is to provide an improved educational experience for students. They’re reportedly considering various models of coronavirus adapted schooling since the state’s been experiencing a surge in cases, passing NY for the most of any state in the nation.

The highest amount of unemployment claims in three months hit the state. The uptick in filings continues to overwhelm call centers. Two state senators calling on the Governor to hire more staff to help 24-7 to fix the issue of backlogged claims. The amount of first time claims is at about 7 million over four months since the pandemic began. Senators Scott Wilk and Melissa Hurtado penning a letter to the governor saying it was a monumental failure when residents most needed help. There were nearly 293,000 new claims filed last week, up from about 285,000 a week before.

The body of a man from Stockton has been found in Clearlake. The Sheriff’s office says 48 year old Anthony Jenkins was found yesterday morning. He was reporting missing from a boat this past weekend in the area of Shag Rock. On Saturday Marine Patrol went to the area after a report of a possible drowning. Others on the boat say the man fell off and never came back up. A dive team went out Saturday but couldn’t find the man, Sunday and Monday too. Then yesterday morning they found a man. But still a positive identification and autopsy will be done this week to make sure it was him.

Another ten cases of Covid-19 in Mendocino County. 217 cases we’ve doubled the amount of cases and more, since the start of the month, and we’re only 3 weeks in. There were 85 cases early in July, a week later 107. The Public Health Officer had warned of the surge after Memorial Day heading to Labor Day. But thankfully hospital bed capacity is not a problem at the moment. The Daily Journal reports speaking to Adventist Health who reported 100 beds in their three hospitals were still available, including 16 ICU beds. 8 people are in the hospital in those three hospitals, one in an ICU.

A grant has been successfully obtained to fix the boardwalk on the Cache Creek Nature Trail at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. The Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association says they got a $5000 “Keeping Parks Whole” grant from the California State Parks Foundation. The boardwalk is wooden and goes thru Cache Creek habitat at the Park. Tours there are currently suspended due to the pandemic.  

The Mendocino County Public Health Office recently announced COVID outbreaks at 4 local businesses. Now the county Emergency Operations Center has visited Ukiah Natural Foods where two employees became infected. The business closed last week, then again Saturday after the second infection. Emergency Operations says the business has implemented new practices to make sure there’s social distancing. The agency also working with staff at Sherwood Oaks Health Center in Fort Bragg which has had something of an outbreak, and at the Fort Bragg Center for Laser & Cosmetic Dentistry where one employee tested positive. The county is working closely with Ardzrooni Vineyard in Anderson Valley after 4 staff members tested positive during surveillance testing. The Anderson Valley Health Clinic will provide outbreak testing. The county looking for places to do surveillance testing as the OptumServe site at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds hit full capacity.

4-H in Mendocino County will be able to show their animals online. The Redwood Empire Fair was canceled because of the pandemic. So instead 4-H will have a virtual online auction. They had been planning since the pandemic first cropped up in March. The animals all sold at different stages and some of the kids have sold them privately during the outbreak.

Humboldt County Sheriff answering questions about the pandemic. He says many local businesses are concerned the county could end up on the state’s watchlist. Like the Mendocino County Public Health Officer who was also concerned so rolled back our health order. The county has not landed on the watchlist, and neither has Humboldt. Sherriff Honsal in says they’re conducting regular testing of his department’s employees who interact with the public the most and are encouraging employees to continue to get tested. He says they have two correctional deputies who tested positive and are currently isolating. He says they’re mostly wearing masks, but sometimes they cannot, they’re sanitizing and cleaning and doing their best to prevent spread in the jail.

A fire that destroyed four buildings in Covelo was indeed arson and there’s been an arrest. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports the Saturday morning fire downtown that gutted four buildings was arson and were investigating several people reported to be in the area at the time. Deputies say surveillance footage downtown turned up multiple suspects and a couple of them were person’s of interest. A day after the fire, Sammy Tanguileg Jr was arrested after a car was set ablaze. But the sheriff said he didn’t think he was linked to the business fires. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority Battalion Chief though says the man starting that fire was suspicious. 

2 more people in Sonoma County have died due to coronavirus. That means there have been 22 deaths related to the pandemic, with most of them in the last 3 weeks or so. The Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase says it’s been a challenge to slow the spread because of the massive demand for tests and ensuing delays with results. She says it’s like this with commercial labs such as Quest and LabCorp so more tests are being sent to the county public health lab, so they’ve also had longer waits for test results. She says the turnaround time is taking too long. There’s also a shortage of test kits across the state and country. Quest is taking up to four days to return results and the county’s is about the same.

The state removing names of skilled nursing facilities where Covid-19 patients have died from the dashboard. There was no formal announcement from the California Department of Social Services. Then after the Sacramento Bee asked why the agency said it made a mistake and they’re working to improve their data reporting. They told the paper they’d be including the info in their daily reports again “very soon”. Critics say the numbers being scrubbed was because the industry’s been hit hard, and it wasn’t a good look. 

 Lake Transit Authority will get a piece of land after the Board of Supervisors approves the sale. The board had previously voted unanimously to sell the land so the transit company could get a grant it was applying for. In April the $13 million dollar grant was approved so Lake Transit could build a new regional transit hub at the property at 7175 South Center Drive. The value for direct public benefit was determined to be south of $700,000 dollars.  The first allocation of the grant will probably come next year. The land is about 3 acres. The board has given the County Administrative Officer the green light to sell the land and draw up a land purchase agreement with Lake Transit.  

A new invasive pest found in Lake County. The Farm Bureau reports in early May two brown marmorated stink bugs, or BMSB’s were found in orchard traps at two different locations, one in Upper Lake and one in Big Valley. The exotic pest indigenous to China can destroy crops and gardens and pester homes and buildings. It mostly damages fruit and vegetables with Lake County’s main agricultural crops vulnerable. They send off an odor if they’re disturbed or crushed. It looks like other stink bugs, but has two white bands on its antennae, a faint white band on the legs, smooth round shoulders and a blunt head.

Statewide campfire restrictions are in place. They were actually put in place in May until further notice to protect the health and safety of communities and firefighters. So igniting, building, maintaining, or using a campfire on a National Forest is prohibited, except in a developed campground or other permitted facility. The Forest Service says they’re doing this so that firefighters are available to respond and manage wildfires, of which 95% are human caused. Many, they say, are the result of unattended campfires. And this year an above-average fire season is projected across the state. Forest visitors can still use pressurized liquid or gas devices like stoves, grills or lanterns that have shut-off valves outside of developed campgrounds if they have a valid California Campfire Permit.

A man in Gualala has been arrested after several reports of a drunk guy wandering on highway 1. A deputy reports once arriving and speaking to multiple witnesses, they identified Nathan Marrufo was the person causing the disturbance.  They say he was acting suspicious and was hitting business windows. He’s also accused of entering a local supermarket and stealing some items. He was found in the parking lot of another grocer and resisted the deputy. The deputy says Marrufo assumed a fighting stance so the deputy told him he was going to let his police dog partner “Takoda” out and the guy slugged the cop. So the dog was deployed and took Marrufo down. He was arrested on multiple charges including resisting, disorderly conduct, intoxicated in public and shoplifting. He was being held on $15,000 bail.

11 more people in Lake County have contracted COVID-19. The Public Health Dept. reports 31 active cases and two people in the hospital. Here in Mendocino County we have 207 cases, 8 more than yesterday with 8 people in the hospital and one in the ICU. The Public Health Dept. page reports 3 people have died, but we have no other information on the 3rd. Neighboring counties reported the following totals yesterday, Glenn, 219; Napa, 632; Sonoma, 2,212; and Yolo, 1,196.

Another virtual town hall has been announced by Congressman Mike Thompson’s office regarding coronavirus. The next is this Thursday at 7. And it will be streamed on the Congressman’s Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account to watch. His special guest this time is the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Bobby Scott. The two will talk education and how schools can safely reopen during the pandemic. If you want to be on the Zoom call, you can email the Congressman’s office.

The fire danger level on the Mendocino National Forest has been elevated to “very high.” That means a fire can start easily, spread fast and become intense quickly. Forest officials are working to get firefighters in certain places ahead of severe fire weather. A chance of thunderstorms is forecasted for the week, which could ignite fires. So more engines and crews are being pre-positioned. The Fire Management officer for the forest says they’re plan for 2020 is an aggressive initial attack and quick containment to minimize the amount of big fires. Fire restrictions are in place across the forest.  

A nurse who traveled to Santa Rosa to help with the fight against coronavirus ending up getting it, got fired and is now suing. Courtney Jackson of St. Louis, MO suing Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa saying she was terminated after getting sick. She’s going after $1 million or more after getting fired March 28th, two days after she got out of the hospital herself because of COVID-19. She had been a traveling nurse and surgical technician for Alliant Staffing. She’s accusing them and Kaiser of discrimination, retaliation and termination. Her court documents say when she couldn’t breathe anymore and thought she would die was when she was tested and cared for. Kaiser says her suit is groundless.

The Gov. has announced a little bit of a turnaround in metrics across the state. The rate of positive cases is flattening and the seven day average is slightly down. He says the state’s positivity rate is still at 7.4% the last two weeks and the one-week average for positives was down from 7.7% to 7.2%. But the hospitalization rate is not great, 16% the last 2 weeks. Gov. Newsom says it’s not across the whole state though, as several counties are still seeing a surge in infections. Los Angeles as an example may have to close back down. The mayor blames people being less vigilant with restrictions and the economy reopening too soon.

The governor allowing some business that wouldn’t normally operate outdoors to do so, so they don’t have to close again. Newsom waiving state laws to allow salons and barbershops to reopen outdoors. This is for the county’s on the state’s watchlist. Last week he announced they would have to close but there was public outcry from thousands of salon owners who just reopened, spending big money to reconfigure their businesses to follow safety protocols.

PG&E says it’s working on its equipment so it doesn’t spark wildfires this summer and fall. The company’s most recently been blamed for starting the massive Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. Before that it was the 2018 Camp Fire and the Oct. 2017 wildfire storm in Northern Calif. The Record Bee newspaper reports interviewing the utility company’s spokesperson who says they’re working to remove dry vegetation, make sure there are no trees or other brush overgrown near their powerlines; and they’re flying choppers and drones above powerlines to “pre-inspect” the fire risk.

A man from Clearlake has waived his right to a preliminary hearing for death of a man hit by a car. Thomas Magee arrested last Sept and will be tried next January for vehicular manslaughter, murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder and hit and run. The Sheriff’s office reported getting a call to Highway 20 and 7th Avenue in Lucerne and found a man down with critical injuries. That man, Joseph Symond Jackson was flown to a hospital in Lakeport where he died. Witnesses said at the time that Magee hit him on purpose, then took off. The whole thing due to a dispute over property. He was held on a $1 million bail. The preliminary hearing in the case was set for April, but due to the pandemic it was rescheduled.

An agreement between the teachers union and the Konocti Unified School District (KUSD) is falling apart. Teachers have filed for arbitration saying the school district isn’t honoring a proposal of their own. The Konocti Educators Association president says they want to be supported by their employer and that the school district has stalled, ignored agreements, broken their word and now won’t honor their own proposal. Negotiations fell apart early last month so teachers say they don’t have any other choice but arbitration due to a salary increase formula in their contract, something worked on for years. They go on to say, they’d previously had a good working relationship with the district and had even agreed on a settlement that was way below what their contract required due to the recession.

Testing for Mendocino Coast Clinics beefed up after more cases popped up at a local nursing facility in Fort Bragg. Nearly 200 people were tested Sunday. They were going to test 150 people at a local church but changed things up after four businesses reported employees had tested positive for coronavirus. Those performing the tests say many of those who showed up had been in contact with the positive cases at these businesses, the Ukiah Co-Op, the Sherwood Oaks Health Center in Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg Center for Laser & Cosmetic Dentistry and Ardzrooni Vineyard in Anderson Valley. The tests were sent to Richmond for processing and results were expected within 72 hours. Those who test positive will get a call from the Public Health Dept. and Mendocino Coast Clinics will call those who test negative.

The largest number of cases of Covid-19 reported in California as it just trails New York in the most cases across the country. On Monday, the state reported 11,554 cases recorded. Deaths have also been rising, the seven day average has been at between 90-100 a day since July 10th which is the highest rate since March. But the governor says there are some brighter spots in all the dark news. Gov. Newsom says the positivity rate is 7.2% as opposed to a week ago when it was 7.7%. The state’s Health and Human Services Agency reports they’re seeing encouraging news in the positivity rate. But at the end of May it was about half what it was a week ago, around 4%.

Another death of a death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison. 58 year old Troy Ashmus died Monday. There’s an investigation into the death, but the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says they believe it’s related to COVID-19. He’s the seventh death row prisoner and the 12th prisoner at San Quentin who have died due to confirmed or suspected virus infections.  He was serving time and landed on death row for the rape and brutal murder of a 7 year old in 1984.

A little reported fact about reopening schools, elementary schools can apply for a waiver so they can stay open. The Press Democrat reports the Governor didn’t mention this at his press conference Friday on in school instruction. The newspaper reports the Santa Clara County superintendent of public schools and their director of public health inviting public and private schools to apply for the waiver. Counties on the state’s watchlist can also apply for the waiver. There’s apparently no guidance on what conditions a county has to follow to allow elementary school kids to go to school in person.

More cases of COVID-19 to report in Mendocino County. 199 cases, 7 people are in the hospital and one in ICU.  The most serious case transferred to Napa County for a higher level of care. The Public Health Office reporting another death of someone who’d been living at Sherwood Oaks Health Center in Fort Bragg. 7 residents have now tested positive and 2 are in the hospital. 5 employees have also tested positive. Yesterday public health had a testing site set up in Fort Bragg. Another employee at the Ukiah Co Op has tested positive. After one report last week and a closure for cleaning, we learned over the weekend of another positive case. But apparently, they were not working or in the store when the test was confirmed. Also, a positive case of an employee at The Fort Bragg Center for Laser & Cosmetic Dentistry. Testing is being done for free for any patients who might have been exposed there between June 22nd and July 13th. And at Ardzrooni Vineyard in Anderson Valley, 4 employees tested positive and outbreak testing will be offered this week. The Public Health Office reports this is all an indication of uncontrolled community spread and will probably get worse until Labor Day.

The Governor ordered the state to rollback its reopening and certain counties on the state’s watchlist had to roll back further. The Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan reported she anticipated the state would put the county on the watchlist, so in anticipation of that, and to maintain local control, she rolled back some business sectors ahead of the state doing it. On Friday the shelter in place order charged to require all bars, pubs, brewpubs and breweries to close unless they can operate outside with meals. Same for restaurants and wineries. Movie theaters and other family entertainment centers have to close along with zoos and museum and cardrooms. Gyms and fitness centers, churches and non-essential businesses are ordered closed unless they can operate outside too. Same for personal care services, like nail and hair salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors. Indoor shopping malls also have to close.

The Ukiah Unified School District has reversed course and will hold all classes online. Last week there was a method announced whereby it would be a hybrid learning environment, with 2 groups of students attending in person 2 days, and online the other 2. But the public health office was advising all online due to the recent upsurge in cases and several local outbreaks. Late Friday we got word from the School District, that they decided against that learning model and with community input they decided to go all online. The School District also says there will be many changes and improvements made to the Distance Learning program. Administrators say they’ve heard from parents, teachers, students, and families on needed changes to improve the curriculum and look forward to sharing details once everything is ready to go.

Another death has been reported due to coronavirus in Mendocino County. A 63 year old resident at the Sherwood Oaks Skilled Nursing Facility in Fort Bragg died last Thursday just about a week after testing positive for the virus. The public health office reports the patient had underlying health conditions which increased the likelihood they would have complications due from the disease. There have been 13 cases at Sherwood and the public health office says they’ve done an exemplary job responding to the situation and they’ll continue to work closely with them.

Another employee of Ukiah Natural Foods has contracted coronavirus. The co-op closed for a day last week and posted on their Facebook page that one employee had the virus and was isolating at home. They said they were hiring a cleaning company for a thorough cleaning. But then a sign was posted on the door outside Saturday saying a second staffer, who was already isolating because of contact tracing for the first case. The business closure was mandated by the Public Health Office. It will stay closed for further contact tracing.  

CalFire reports their Aviation Management Program is ready to go for the fire season. The agency conducts wildland pre-fire engineering, vegetation management, fire planning, education and law enforcement. The Battalion Aviation Chief for Mendocino County has a giant helicopter, a UH-1H Super Huey and over at the Ukiah Municipal Airport there are a couple of air tankers and an airplane.

A fire in Covelo over the weekend may have been intentionally set. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and Cal Fire went out to the fire Saturday after a local restaurant was destroyed. Firefighters on the scene quite early finding the Covelo Western Auto Store burning. The store along with the North Fork Café have been destroyed. The fire took less than 4 hours to put out. The sheriff’s department says the fire was devastating to the community of about 1,200. Investigators are talking to community members to figure out the cause of the fire and asking for possible surveillance camera footage. They’re treating it as suspected arson though. No injuries were reported and there was no spread to vegetation.

The surge of coronavirus cases in Sonoma County are not lessening. The Press Democrat reports the Board of Supervisors are set to discuss how to enforce the public health order of mandatory mask wearing. So far law enforcement are supposed to give warnings and possible criminal misdemeanor citations. But the board could weigh other options like code enforcement officers and environmental health staff for civil violations. The number of cases have ramped up in the county and 20 people have died. Napa has the strictest rules nearby with fines of up to $5,000 for businesses. And Mendocino County has also put fines in place for those who don’t listen to restrictions.  The Sonoma County Public Health Officer blames most of the recent surge to holiday gatherings, religious ceremonies and at least one funeral.

More cases reported in Lake County. 140 cases, the county’s COVID dashboard not updated though since Friday. The dashboard shows 103 people have recovered and one person has died. 3 people were in the hospital as of this weekend. The county is looking good for hospital capacity, which with a surge in cases and deaths is generally what puts a county on the state’s watch list. Lake Co News reports as of Friday the two hospitals in the county each had more than a 2 week supply of personal protective gear on hand. Hospital bed availability about 50% and ICU beds at about 25 percent.

West Nile Virus has been confirmed in a sample of mosquitos in Lake County. Vector Control reports the samples were collected last week near Middletown. They say it’s typical in July, but since many are home more due to the pandemic, to remember there’s a possibility of contracting West Nile Virus too.  The vector district can help if you feel mosquitoes are hard to control. They provide free mosquito-eating fish for swimming pools or spas not being maintained, and backyard ponds, water features and animal watering troughs. A reminder to dump or drain standing water, use repellents, and avoid outdoors when the insects are around, usually that’s during dawn and dusk hours.

A man in Covelo’s been arrested after a car fire. Someone called the fire department who reported the person who started the fire might be nearby. Deputies and Investigators found Sammy Tanguileg and found he was near the 2000 Chevy sedan right before it caught fire. Arson investigators and the Ukiah Valley Fire Department and Laytonville Volunteer Fire Department on the scene with detectives and arrested Tanguileg for Arson and Committing an Arson during a State of Emergency and held on $100,000.00 bail. Investigators are also asking anyone who may have seen something to call.

A man in Ukiah’s been arrested on multiple charges after a report of a domestic assault. A week ago Saturday deputies found a woman had been physically and sexually assaulted. She says it was her live-in boyfriend and deputies verified she had been abused. They also found a seven year old girl who had been abused so she and the adult female were taken to a hospital. Soon after Antonio Becerra Jr was arrested on Assault with a Deadly Weapon; Inflicting Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant; Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object with Force or Fear; and Inflicting Corporal Injury upon a Child. He was held in jail on $450,000 bail. Investigators are asking anyone who lives nearby to report any further information on the man saying they believe the assaults were probably ongoing for several hours.