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The first Lake County COVID19 Recovery Team meeting is planned this week. The county is reimagining life in before times, by helping local businesses overcome the challenges in the fast-changing business environment which they say has come with layers of financial and procedural complication.  This afternoon on Zoom, Supervisors Bruno Sabatier and Eddie Crandell, representatives from the county, cities of Clearlake and Lakeport, and other business stakeholders are taking part. They’ll discuss relief funds and the just approved 2nd round of the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That could include grants of up to $25,000 for eligible businesses with annual revenues of $2.5 million or less.  The deadline to apply is January 8th.

More wireless communication for Mendocino County as a new communications lease is approved for the Big Signal Peak communication site project on the Mendocino National Forest. The lease approved on Xmas eve will allow for a wireless communications tower on an existing telecommunication site. It’s about 18 miles southwest of Willits, across from the Sanhedrin Wilderness. The Mendocino National Forest reports collaborating with the county’s Emergency Services Dept for the site to bring important internet services to rural communities, like Covelo and Laytonville. The work is to start immediately.

Another 17 inmates have confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Mendocino County Jail. Last week, before the holiday we reported 4 inmates and 3 correction staff members contracted the virus and contact tracing and testing began. Over the weekend the sheriff’s office reported 17 more inmates had positive test results. They’re in a quarantined area to try to slow the spread into unaffected areas of the jail.  During the quarantine period, jail medical staff will be monitoring the health of the affected inmates with more testing to be done until all inmates and staff are tested. 

A 37 year old man from Ukiah’s been arrested for possessing child pornography. The Sheriff’s office reports contacting Jose Enevi Zarza-Quintero who had an active warrant for his arrest. He was taken in over the weekend and held on $20,000.00 bail.

A man from Willits has been arrested in connection with an intentional crash into a motorcyclist who was killed. The CHP got a report early Christmas Eve to a crash in Casper and found a 2003 Chevy pick-up driven by Shayne Wrede and a Honda 650 motorcycle ridden by Mark Hutchinson. Deputy’s found Wrede, who was on County Parole, reported being the victim of a shooting earlier that morning. Police from Fort Bragg were on the scene of the shooting and detectives confirmed Hutchinson and Wrede had a 4.5 mile chase, reaching speeds of at least 90 MPH through Fort Bragg continuing onto Caspar Road where the crash happened and Hutchinson’s died. Detectives say evidence showed Wrede had intentionally caused the crash and hit Hutchinson’s motorcycle. He’s charged with murder and violating his parole and held on $500,000.00 bail.

The strict stay at home orders in widespread COVID infection areas are expected to continue as the state is low on ICU beds. The surge has been ongoing since Halloween and is expected to be worse in coming weeks, following Christmas and New Year’s travelers coming back to the state. As Californians celebrated Christmas, the state reported reaching 2 million cases, the first state to reach that number. The stay home orders in some hard hit counties were supposed to end today, after going into effect 3 weeks ago. The Governor has signaled they would stay in place. Health inspectors and police were enforcing the restrictions at restaurants and malls this weekend. As of yesterday the state had nearly 2,123,000 and over 24,000 deaths.

Some hospitals in the state are canceling scheduled and elective surgeries and admissions as cases continue to explode across Calif. Hospitals can barely squeeze in new emergencies due to the massive amount of coronavirus patients. All regular intensive-care beds were said to be full in Southern California and the Central Valley. The Governor has not mandated stopping elective surgeries like in the spring when the pandemic first started. But Kaiser Permanente announced stopping all “elective, non-urgent surgeries and procedures” until Jan. 4th across more than 20 hospitals in Northern California and until Jan. 10th at 15 more in Southern California.

There’s not been a whole lot of talk about reopening schools for public instruction as the state has mounting coronavirus cases and no end in site. Some school districts that were doing in person learning have gone back to virtual learning. Right now schools are off anyway for the holidays. But a recent EdSource survey of Calif.’s 58 county offices of education showed nearly every county was in the state’s widespread “purple” tier, so schools cannot reopen, if they weren’t already. A month before, the same survey showed schools were reopening for in person learning. The latest survey also found most school districts were back to distance learning, but in 19 counties there was some sort of in person school. Some say students will stay in distance learning thru the winter.

A man from Clearlake has been arrested related to a burglary at a Tractor retailer. Police say they arrested Luis Avina related to the burglary at Tractor Supply in Clearlake. Cops went out to a call of a burglar alarm going off and someone inside near an employee. They first staked out the area and positioned themselves outside the store and contacted Avina who they say became aggressive, claiming he owned the store. He fought with officers who finally cuffed the guy and an employee id’d him as being inside the closed business. The stolen property has been returned and Avina jailed.

New rules of the road, like every new year, start January 1st. The CHP put out a statement on the new laws, one for distracted driving, if you violate the hands free law two times, on the second offense, if it’s within 3 years, it will go on your permanent driver’s record. A child left alone in a car, if someone tries to break into the ca, they will not be held liable for trespassing or damaging the vehicle when rescuing a child who is 6 years old or younger if they’re in danger from heat, cold, lack of ventilation, or other dangerous circumstances. The law “Move Over, Slow Down” adds on for local streets, cops can start a new hi low sound, if there’s an emergency. That one already went into effect a couple months ago.

Lake County front line workers have been receiving the coronavirus vaccine. The Lake County Public Health officer reports the first group, 300 health care workers got the vaccination in the first shipment of doses. Dr. Pace says that’s way less than what’s needed. They’re following the guidelines though for various groups, or tiers of people to get the vaccination. The first tier, which is happening now, are hospital workers, medical first responders, nursing home staff and dialysis staff; tier 2 is starting at some point over the next two weeks for outpatient clinic staff, jail medical staff, home health and In-Home Supportive Services workers; then finally tier 3, specialty clinics, lab workers, dental clinics and pharmacy staff. Dr. Pace says they’re following the guidelines then hope to be able to start targeted immunization clinics in the coming weeks.

It could be a challenge getting back to in person learning for California school districts as there’s a serious shortage of substitute teachers. Education Source reports a major drop in applications for substitute teaching credentials for the last year, and already credentialed substitutes, leaving the industry altogether. Temporary teachers not always the first call for help when there are barely any jobs during online learning. Also some fear being in person during the pandemic, are uncomfortable with the new technology due to online teaching or they can’t get their own childcare for kids at home half the week because of hybrid learning. There’s already been a substitute shortage for years in the state, but, like many things, the pandemic has laid bare, the matter needs handling, especially in smaller, rural districts.

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