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New school reopening guidelines have been released from the state. The rules for elementary schools planning in-person learning even though most schools will restart with online classes. The Gov. announced schools on the state’s watch list within the last two weeks can only do online learning. But elementary schools can apply for a waiver. A school superintendent, private school principal, or executive director of a charter school can apply. Schools have to show they’ve spoken with parents and teachers’ unions about their reopening plans, and that they’ve published then on the school’s website. That has to include cleaning and disinfection plans, mask wearing, protective gear, health screenings, contact tracing, physical distancing and so much more.

The Sites Fire still burning in Colusa County and inching pretty close to Clearlake. It presents a set of challenges for firefighters due to the pandemic. The firefighters have to be separated and their equipment disinfected more often then in regular times. Colusa County also has the third highest infection rate in the state.  The Red Cross is also handline evacuees differently, people can’t just crowd into a huge school gymnasium, instead, they’re putting folks up in hotels and if not, in a gym, with strict social distancing. So far the fire has burned 560 acres and is 58% contained.

The state watching Sonoma County’s COVID numbers, as the county continues dealing with an out of control surge of cases. The Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase says the county’s been on the state watchlist three weeks because of high rates of virus transmission well above benchmarks the state has set for reopening plans. The county is averaging about twice as many cases per 100,000 residents than allowed. Nearly 1,000 cases in two weeks, Dr. Mase says, shows the infection transmission is too high. They need to hit 100 per 100,000 people, but average about 188.

People told to leave their homes near Clearlake have been able to return as the Sites Fire reached 55% containment last night. The fire in Colusa County has charred 560 acres after breaking out Sunday afternoon. The fire’s the biggest this year so far and led to evacuations and road closures, but both eased yesterday as crews contained surrounding the fire yesterday. There’s been no structures destroyed but 12 were still threatened last night.

Willits owns a piece of its own. The city has ownership of Main Street after Caltrans gave it up. The street goes from the intersection at Highway 20 just past Willits High. The city manager and deputy city manager say they’re hoping to have a city party and ribbon cutting ceremony at some point on Main St. but can’t right now due to the pandemic. The road ownership means the city will maintain it plus a couple of traffic signals, something the state agency could cost up to $140,000 a year. The city says it has a plan but they want a sales tax increase too due to the pandemic. But it’s been struggling with less revenue over the last few years. They’ve cut staff and services and brought in more money with marijuana taxes. Plus the city’s dipped into reserves.

More coronavirus cases in Mendocino County. Another high day, 9 new cases for a total of 331. 66 are in isolation and ten people remain hospitalized. The 9 new cases in the Ukiah Valley.

A couple more inmates have died from Covid-19 at San Quentin State Prison. Corrections officials say one of them was on death row. The two both died outside the prison at a hospital. They were 48 year old Orlando Romero, who was sent to death row in 1996 for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery while armed with a firearm. He and his brother arrested for randomly robbing people. No word on the other inmate. They were the latest of nearly 2 dozen now who’ve died from the pandemic. 9 were on death row. It’s the hardest hit prison in the state with about 70% of the inmates contracting the virus. 49 inmates across Calif. have died of complications from the virus.  

Surge of Covid-19 cases in Lake County. The Public Health Office reports  13 new cases as of Friday.  There have been 208 positive cases. Right now, there are 25 active cases, 182 recovered and one person has died. No cases are in the hospital, but in the past there have been 17.  The state is nearing 519,000 cases and 9,500 deaths. Lake Co News reports 24,420 healthcare workers have also contracted the virus and 128 have died. Nearby county counts, Colusa County has had 331 cases and  four deaths; Glenn, 332 cases, one death; Mendocino, 331 cases, nine deaths; Napa with 963 cases and nine deaths; and Sonoma, with more than 3,100 cases and 39 deaths; Yolo with half the population of Sonoma, has had about half the case load, almost 1,600 cases, but more deaths, 42.

Lake County has released their weekly demographics showing nearly 7,200 Covid-19 tests conducted. The info shows most of the cases have been contracted from close contacts. 33 more cases from one week to the next. Of the 208 cases in the county, more than half were from a close contact. 51 cases are noted as being investigated, 23 from out of county contact, 17 unknown source – but thought to be from community spread, six from work contact.  Most of the cases were in women, 113 cases. And the highest amount of cases in 25 to 34 year olds, then in 13 to 24 year olds. 

A man accused of murder in court in Lake County. His trial was set for June, after a couple of other court dates during the pandemic. The latest hearing ended with the matter headed to a settlement or trial date setting conference in a few weeks. 21 year old Mavrick Fisher accused of the murder of Grant David Whitaker of Mackinaw, Illinois in August of last year. The two traveling together to a campground where the victim was allegedly killed. The two reportedly planned on starting a deaf camp together, per Whitaker’s family members.  Fisher pleaded not guilty last fall and his trial was set for January, then pushed to March and continued again. The Sheriff’s Dept. reports Fisher admitted to the killing and gave instructions where his body could be found. Bail has been denied.

A man from Fort Bragg’s been arrested after a call to Westport for a domestic disturbance. Mendocino deputies called Friday to the incident and found Dennis Day and a woman he was in a romantic relationship with, which included children in common. They say there had been a verbal argument that led to a physical confrontation, where the man pushed the woman down to the ground.  Deputies say she had minor visible injuries consistent with the reported assault. So Day was arrested for domestic violence battery and booked into Mendocino County Jail and held on $25,000.00 bail

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