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Willits City Hall is closed to the public and workers are at home doing their jobs after a positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed. The city manager made the announcement and did not label it an outbreak. City Hall is being sanitized and employees are reportedly following other guidelines. The city put out a statement that they “value the health and safety of our residents and our employees and hold these health considerations at the forefront of our operational decisions.” They will still make certain essential services available if you call them direct. Payments and any forms due can be dropped in the drop box by the front of the main doors to city hall.

Some local organizations in Willits are making food available for anyone in need. Today and tomorrow at dinner time, Willits Daily Bread is serving evening meals for anyone who is hungry. They will have a special meal on Christmas Eve. They’re accepting dessert donations. They’re also taking clothes and blankets to hand out. Community Crossroads of Mendocino County is also giving out meals this week along with jackets, gloves and cold weather gear including sleeping bags. The Willits Food Bank is having their normal food box pickup today, but they’re closed Friday. The Willits Senior Center is asking for homemade cookies which you can take to St. Francis in the Redwood Episcopal Church. And the Willits Harrah Senior Center is running their Meals on Wheels program tomorrow, Christmas Eve, but the Senior Center will be closed on Christmas Day.

Teachers and school staff are getting a boost to move to the front of the line for the coronavirus vaccine. Health experts who’ve been advising the state say not only in Calif., but that nationally, teachers and other staff at schools should be high up on the priority list for the vaccination. The advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control has recommended also that child care workers be included with school staff in the next group of those who get the shots. The CDC director is expected to approve the recommendation soon. Then Calif’s 60-member Community Vaccine Advisory Committee would consider it when they meet again. A smaller Drafting Guidelines Work Group in Calif recommended education, emergency services, and food and agriculture workers should be high on the list of the next who get the two shot regimen.

175 holiday meals have been given out by the Ukiah Senior Center. Last Saturday staffers delivered the ham, turkey, apple slaw, potatoes, yams and pie to veterans for free or $7 to family members and seniors. The event was drive up and sold out. It was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. It’s usually a giant, formal sit-down dinner at Bartlett Hall, but the pandemic changed it up. They still have their lunch meals that are delivered or picked up too. That goes out to 50 members/day M-F. They’re continuing this week, thru tomorrow and are closed Friday, then the week after the New Year, they’re off too to give staff and volunteers time off.

Since Ukiah City Council member Maureen Mulheren has been elected to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, the city’s accepting city council applications to fill her seat. The official application notice says the person interested has to live in the city limits, and be registered to vote at the same address. It pays just under $500/month plus offers $837/month in health benefits, with an expected time commitment of 25 to 35 hours per month. You can get the application on the city’s website or call the city clerk or email her. The deadline to apply is Jan. 21st, then the city council will have a special meeting one week later to consider the applications. They’ll also read thru some letters of public comment submitted about the vacancy.

The latest data on the pandemic shows one in 20 Californians have had COVID19. There’s a national and local push to get people to stay home for the holidays after a massive spike in cases ahead of Thanksgiving which has continued unabated. Officials warning to not attend Christmas family gatherings and especially to stay away from New Year’s Eve parties which could push the state’s health care system way beyond capacity. Since the end of October the surge in new cases has been increasing. Cases looked to be leveling off about a week ago, but at a higher daily rate. 25 people have died from the virus in Mendocino County and nearly 2,300 people have gotten infected.  Northern California is the only area of the state without the strictest stay-at-home order, which is triggered when ICU capacity drops below 15%.

North Coast Opportunities continues to offer financial support and more to those during the pandemic as they have for years during other tragedies, like wildfires. They’re working in partnership with the Mendocino Lake Food Hub so thousands of residents can get fresh produce from local farms and more. The Community Foundation of Mendocino County is still accepting applications for financial relief and payments for rent, food, and utilities. They’re closing tomorrow until after the New Year and at the moment the Food Hub has not received continued funding. For more info visit www.ncoinc.org and go to the section titled, “COVID-19 or Disaster Assistance for Mendocino County.” You can also call (707) 467-3200 to leave a confidential message in either Spanish or English.

The Lake County Public Health Officer says cases of coronavirus are increasing dramatically since Thanksgiving. Dr. Gary Pace confirmed nearly 1,600 cases and 22 deaths. 13 people in the county are in the hospital, which he says is one of the highest so far locally. Right now the county has 230 active cases. There’s still 28% ICU capacity. The state is getting to almost 2 million total cases and over 23,000 deaths. The state’s positivity rate is at 12.2 percent.

Dr. Pace says there’s been a tribal outbreak, which may be slowing down, but there were 100 cases. He says there’s a cluster of cases at one nursing home facility. There have been more than 200 new cases in Lake County this past week. Pace says seven of the county’s eight ICU beds are in use. He says the virus is spreading in the community and 75 percent of all of the cases were in the most populated areas – Lakeport, Kelseyville and Clearlake.

Another employee of Lake County Superior Court has tested positive for COVID, but that employee has not been in the office since Dec. 10th. They also did not have close contact with anyone in the public or any lawyers or law enforcement. The first employee who contracted the virus was reported about a week and a half ago, they were asymptomatic and had worked at the Clearlake and Lakeport courthouses. The announcement of the first case coincided with the Superior Court Presiding Judge announced most of the court’s proceedings were going virtual and all trials are canceled thru the end of the year. 

The Governor is tasked with replacing Senator Kamala Harris who’s been nominated as the next Vice President of the US and also the state Attorney General who’s been nominated to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. For Vice President Elect Harris, Gov. Newsom has selected the Secretary of State Alex Padilla. To replace Padilla, the governor announced nominating San Diego Assemblymember and Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus Dr. Shirley N. Weber. Padilla will be the first Latino to be a US Senator from California and Weber will be the first ever African American to be California’s secretary of state. Atty. General Xavier Becerra was nominated by President Elect Biden to be the Health and Human Services Secretary.

A trade group that represents craft breweries in Calif. is suing the Gov. and the state’s public health officer for discrimination. The California Craft Brewers Association filed the lawsuit last week saying the public health order said anyone who went to a brewery had to also buy food in order to go there, but that wineries did not have the same restriction and that’s a violation of the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Wineries got an exception to the rule after they protested because they’re prohibited from selling meals in some counties. The state said breweries and distilleries were like bars and wineries could allow for more “physical movement” and “social mixing” among customers.

No work on the streetscape project in Ukiah over the holidays. A break in the construction from Friday to New Year’s. The construction company finished the water and sewer replacements and have been doing cleanup work this week. They’re taking off all of next week and Christmas then will pick back up with electric utility undergrounding between Seminary and Mill. They’ll be saw cutting and removing concrete, which will bring noise and dust. There may be intermittent closures to East and West Mill Street.

A man from Hopland has been arrested after reports of a burglary at a construction site. Deputies got a call Monday morning to a $5,000 ripoff from Pacific Builders of tools. The investigation led to a possible suspect, Adam Vazquez so deputies went to his home and since he was on probation, a search was allowed without a warrant. He spoke to deputies through an open window and they say he was combative with them when they told him they were searching the home. They say he ran out the front door but was caught. Soon after he was arrested for Second Degree Burglary, Violation of Probation and Resisting or Delaying a Peace Officer and held on $15,000.00 bail.

A woman from Covelo’s been arrested after the sheriff’s office got wind of a possible child abuse situation. The call on Monday from Child Protective Services that a 4 year old girl had multiple visible bruises and had been treated at a hospital. Apparently her mom got upset when the girl went to the bathroom on the floor, so she hit her with a wooden branch. The 24 year old was taken to jail but not held due to the COVID19 pandemic. A judge then authorized a bail enhancement of $25,000.00 and an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) for the child. There were two other children at the house, a 1 year old and 3 year old with similar looking injuries. The three kids have been taken by child protective services.

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