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Category Archives: 94.5 K-Wine News

94.5 K-Wine Local News Reports

A freezer malfunctioning at Adventist Health Ukiah turns vaccine favor to the Mendocino County Jail. There is an outbreak of coronavirus at the jail at the same time the freezer failed at the hospital and doses of the vaccine were about to go to waste. So the Sheriff’s Office reports Monday their healthcare provider, NaphCare, administered some of the quickly thawing vaccines. About 800 doses were said to be in jeopardy of getting tainted. So Naphcare staff gave the vaccine in groups of ten at the jail at a quickly put together injection site. First they vaccinated Public Safety staff, including Sheriff’s Deputies, Corrections Deputies and Public Safety Dispatchers, and essential Sheriff’s Office staff.  Then, employees from Public Health, and staff from other county departments who wanted the vaccine. Nearly 100 people got the shot at the use it or lose it event.

The public health office in Sonoma County says they’ve administered half of the coronavirus vaccine doses they received. The Press Democrat reports two weeks after the first shots were given, they don’t have the data to know how many elderly residents and caregivers have received the first dose. The Governor’s office reports only about a third of the available shots were administered so far, slower than anticipated. The Public Health Officer says they’ve given 7,445 doses so far of the two vaccines that gained emergency approval from the FDA, Pfizer and Moderna. The newspaper reports too that the county had 8 more deaths from the virus for a total of over 200 now.  There were also another 132 cases of the virus. In Mendocino County there was another day of over 50 more cases, getting ever so close to 3,000 total.

A massive deal to join to wineries together is complete. The planned acquisition of E. & J. Gallo Winery from Constellation, an $810 million deal, one of the largest ever in the U.S. wine industry. The Press Democrat reports it had been valued at $1.7 billion back in April of 2019, but it was changed some as regulators forced a scaled back merger to preserve competition in the U.S. wine industry. Gallo’s the biggest in the country but after selling to Constellation, it’s now 5th. As part of the deal, Gallo will own the Clos du Bois winery in Geyserville, Ravenswood and Mark West wines.

The Governor has announced a new state stimulus program to help small businesses and unemployed Californians due to the pandemic. The $4.5-billion stimulus program includes several grants and tax incentives, money for low-income residents so they can buy zero-emission vehicles and to pay for more charging and fueling stations across the state. The Gov. touting the state’s economic innovation, inclusion and resilience. He says the new proposals will help Californians reach their dreams. He has to still get lawmakers to approve of his plan.

The coronavirus vaccine has been distributed at Sherwood Oaks Health Center. Adventist Health Mendocino Coast staff administered the shots between New Year’s Eve and Monday to 58 staff members at Sherwood Oaks. The employees working for months on the front lines. The facility was reportedly the first to have an outbreak in Mendocino County. It happened last August, eight residents died of the virus. The Advocate newspaper reports those receiving and those giving the vaccine were grateful to be part of the vaccination program. The medical director for Sherwood said it was a relief and couldn’t come at a better time.

New teachers in Lake County are starting the Teach Lake County Program. The Office of Education announced the fourth cohort of the program helping those who are qualified get their teaching credentials. Lake Co News reports it features a local perspective. The office of education says it provides an affordable way to become a teacher as well, for those already teaching as part of an internship. There are 21 people in the Preservice Program, the first step to get their credentials. It takes about six months to become an intern first. Due to the pandemic, they’re holding classes online, two days a week.

Some new state laws have gone into effect, but less than most years, thanks to the pandemic. A new state law address that too, it requires companies doing business in the state. and the State Health Department — to report more COVID data. Cal Matters reports businesses will have to notify employees within 24 hours if there’s been someone infected, which could have exposed them at work. They also have to report outbreaks, two or more positive cases which occur within a two week period. So Cal Osha will have more power over these incidents, as they’re considered to be a workplace safety issue.

It’s happened again, the seasonal flooding of the Navarro River. So that means SR-128, between SR-1 and Flynn Creek Rd., west of the town of Navarro is closed. It usually happens when the river overflows over a sandbar at its mouth. When its breached, the water tables there, then spills onto the highway which runs alongside the river over several miles until the river meets the ocean.  

The state has issued a new order due to low ICU capacity, no non elective surgeries or procedures at hospitals. It applies to counties who have less than 10% ICU capacity and where there’s 0 % regional capacity. It’s happened in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions.  As we’ve been reporting, Los Angeles is getting inundated with cases, no room for patients, lower oxygen availability, means some rationing, and hours long waits to get patients into some hospitals. And in the San Joaquin Valley reports that ICUs are overflowing double their usual size, plus we’ve yet to see the whole picture of another surge from Christmas and New Year’s gatherings and some travel, where some just arrived back home after a week or so away.

An oddity for Calif., tornadoes. In Northern Calif. reports of twisters this week. On Monday, a pair of them in Tehama County, northwest of Chico and south of Redding near I-5. The first one in Corning, a rural area, dotted with farms. They reported some downed trees, but no damage or injuries. One of the two twisters built up to 27,000 feet high.  The National Weather Service issued the first tornado warning at 2:38 p.m. and a second tornado touched down at 2:40 p.m. Then there was a warning an hour later in Butte County, but no twister materialized.

A search has continued along the Sonoma Coast for two missing children swept from a rock with their father off Blind Beach. The father’s body was found the same day by his wife, the mom of the missing children, 7 year old Anna and 4 year old John Wyman, lost Sunday. The State Parks Dept. reported rough ocean conditions at Blind Beach and Goat Rock. And it continued yesterday which held personnel back from being able to continue looking for the missing children. They consider it a recovery operation at this point. The waves have been reported to hit up to 20 feet last weekend and again yesterday. Rangers were along the shore looking as lifeguards also drove around the edges of Salmon Creek beach. The Monte Rio Fire Chief and a lifeguard were on the beach walking to Jenner then about a mile south from Blind Beach, apparently finding some children’s clothing which may or may not be related.

The state has set aside over $40 million for those who’ve lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but now it turns out may have go to out of state jail and prison inmates.  The Employment Development Department reportedly lost hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID-19 unemployment funds to fraud, including some in Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s name. A report last month showed the unemployment money was approved for those incarcerated out of state including as many as 2,000 in Florida. In one instance, a man in prison for murder got nearly $11,000 in payments from California.

New information has been gathered about a man from Rancho Cucamonga who died after a fall or being swept by a wave by the Mendocino Big River Headlands State Park. 45-year-old David Reyes Juarez, a teacher was visiting on Saturday, but died after falling into the ocean. Juarez identified as a teacher in the San Bernardino Union School District who was described as positive and upbeat. His loss was described as monumental. The Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department said they got a call for the rescue and Juarez was found 45 minutes later. He was brought to the shore and CPR was administered for 20 minutes, but he was pronounced dead.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office says two missing children who went into the surf over the holiday weekend have not been found. The State Parks Dept. continues to search for the missing 4 year old boy and 6 year old girl at Blind Beach as deputies continue patrolling the coast. A helicopter was meant to go out looking yesterday, weather-permitting. The children’s 40 year old dad, Michael Wyman’s body was found by his wife after the three were swept into the surf. A dive team stopped searching because of dangerous surf.  The Sheriff’s Office reports receiving several 911 calls Sunday about the man and children who were pulled into the ocean at Blind Beach.

Two new Mendocino County Supervisors have been sworn in. Glenn McGourty, representing the First District, and Maureen “Mo” Mulheren, representing the Second District ahead of this morning’s meeting. Mendocino County CEO Carmel Angelo did the honors yesterday. The two new Supervisors were told, due to the pandemic, they would have to limit how many people came to the swearing in, which was not open to the public. McGourty was sworn in first, he says important issues, besides the pandemic, include cannabis, homelessness, fire and water issues. Supervisor Mulheren, a former Ukiah City Councilmember says the community is the most important priority and says she’ll be big on social media so she can stay in touch with her constituents and encourage civic involvement and engagement.  

A man who drowned under the Mendocino Headlands over the weekend has been identified. 45 year old David Reyes Juarez of Rancho Cucamonga was reportedly with his extended family on the coast Saturday. They say he climbed down the rugged coastline onto some rocks, then either fell or got swept off the rocks into the rough seawater. His family reportedly saw it happen, then a California State Parks lifeguard and others began searching for him or his body. He was found unconscious and plucked out of the water. CPR was administered, but he died on the scene.

A botched rollout of the new Moderna vaccine in Ukiah. A refrigerator containing over 800 doses of the coronavirus vaccine stopped working. And when staff at Ukiah Valley Medical Center found out about the issue, they started to rush to vaccinate hundreds of people during a three hour period, before the medicine expired. The medicine was already thawing over nine hours. The chief medical officer says it was an emergency situation to vaccinate community members, including the general public over medical workers or the elderly. A thawed, unpunctured vial is reportedly good for up to 12 hours between 46-77 degrees Fahrenheit after thawing for an hour at room temperature or for 2½ hours in a refrigerator. Apparently the refrigerator had a faulty compressor and an alarm set to go off if there’s a malfunction also didn’t work.

More deaths and hospitalizations from the virus than the state can handle as it also reaches almost 2.4 million cases since the pandemic began. As of Monday there were reports of almost 22,000 COVID-19 patients, and over 4,600 in intensive care units. The Department of Public Health reports so far 26,635 people have died. The state has a 12.5% positivity rate. It’s getting more restrictive in LA County as the cases are skyrocketing. LA County health officials stopping restaurants from outdoor dining and asked Hollywood producers to put a hold on any TV or film production until the middle of the month.

The city of Clearlake is in discussions to sell a couple of city owned properties. One is a 29 acre property on Old Hwy 53 and the other for part of the Pearce Field airport property. They were discussed last month during a special city council meeting. The city manager says the Highway property was possibly going to be a housing development, but that’s was on hold due to the recession of 2009. But a developer has a plan for homes there now. The city entered a 180-day exclusive negotiation agreement with a developer, the council voted unanimously to approve. And they voted to approve a letter of intent for the airport property purchase, that one’s for a hotel potentially.

The first town hall of the new year for newly sworn-in long time Congressman Mike Thompson. This Thursday, Thompson’s hosting his 17th virtual town hall going back to when the coronavirus pandemic first started. Like the others, you can see it on his Facebook page, and also email his office to join on Zoom. It goes from 7 to 8 p.m. This one is just a general topic with Q&A for constituents and members of the press. His 5th Congressional District seat covers all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.

The DA in Mendocino County says he’s directing all of his deputy prosecutors to try to move any animal cruelty cases out of one judge’s court. District Attorney David Eyster put out a statement yesterday, that effective immediately all deputy prosecutors should file peremptory challenge to disqualify and prevent Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan to hear the cases and the DA wants them to further file challenges to get Brennan disqualified from hearing any case where a defendant is accused of personally using a firearm in the commission of a felony. It comes after the decision by Judge Brennan in the case of “Thunder the Wonder Dog” who survived a botched euthanasia shooting and lived, only to be abandoned in the woods. His former owner Katie Smith of Caspar got her felony animal cruelty conviction reduced to a misdemeanor and got no jail time. DA Eyster also says he’s asking for an appellate review of Brennan’s decision in the Smith case.

We could see that surge upon a surge upon a surge Dr. Anthony Fauci warned us about. The coronavirus case numbers have been down a couple days, but that’s just because of the holiday and we probably won’t see any major spike again for a week or so. The daily case numbers are plateauing, but the amount of positive tests has skyrocketed and the amount of people dying everyday is also on the rise. The state’s been seeing an average of almost 36,000 new cases/day, but the positivity rate is higher than two weeks ago. An average of 335 people a day are dying, that’s like one every four minutes. It was around that number per week in November, then the Thanksgiving holiday came, now Christmas, and New Year’s.  In Lake County, there have been almost 2,000 positive cases, and 24 deaths. In Mendocino County there have been 2,663 cases, that’s 52 more the last two days, and another death was announced yesterday for a total of 31 deaths.

The new strain of COVID19 has spread into Calif. Last week we told you about one case of the B.1.1.7 variant that appears to have originated in the United Kingdom. It then showed up in Colorado, Florida and over 30 other countries. Last week it was found and reported in San Diego County, in a 30 year old man who had not traveled. Three more cases have now been reported in that county. Since the original case in the county had no travel history, public health officials say it shows it’s now spreading in the community. Now there are 6 in the state, 4 in San Diego County and 2 in San Bernardino. Public health experts say the new variant spreads more rapidly, but does not appear to get those who are infected, sicker.

New protocols are taking place at the Mendocino County Animal Shelter. The shelter, like other businesses closed in March. Those interested in adoptions have not been allowed inside the shelter, they have to do a curbside visit. They also require appointments for that, whether it’s adopting or surrendering animals, to adhere to public health restrictions. The shelter also has capacity limits on how many animals they’re caring for. They’re utilizing less volunteers because of that. They just had their annual canned food drive with donations pouring in of food for cats and dogs. Which are still welcome, as are blankets, collars, and leashes. Visit

Federal guidelines say healthcare workers in direct contact with coronavirus patients should get the first crack at the vaccine. Now the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended frontline essential workers and people over 75 to go next. Most states are following the guidelines, some are going rogue and choosing who to vaccinate first themselves. The Governor says we’ve received 70,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine which were given last week, with an expectation of another 560,000 last week too. And nearly 673,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were supposed to come last week too. The next tier of workers may include education and childcare workers, first responders and food and agricultural workers.

The outbreak at the Mendocino County Jail continues with testing, there have been 76 people testing positive. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports 63 of those are inmates and right now there are 39 active cases. On Saturday 17 inmates were recorded as recovered since the outbreak started Dec. 19th. First a corrections deputy tested positive. On Friday an ambulance took one of the inmates to the hospital who was having trouble breathing. The rest of the positive cases were isolated, but seven inmates who tested positive have been released through the courts or finishing time served. 13 staffers tested positive too, five have recovered. The Sheriff’s office reports largely isolating the outbreak area, but a small number of inmates were positive outside the original quarantine. They say they’ll continue to test and monitor those affected.

A woman from Gualala reported missing before the holiday weekend has been found dead. The Sheriff’s office, Mendocino County Search & Rescue volunteers, South Coast Volunteer Fire Department and Redwood Coast Fire Department were searching on New Years Day for Kerry Ann Bonanno on her property. 34 people and 2 specially trained dogs went out and in a steep wooded ravine on the property, searchers found Bonanno deceased. There will be an autopsy to determine how she died and with a toxicology report, that could take several weeks.

Several more cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mendocino County. The Public Health Office reported 53 more cases between January 1st and 2nd, and three more deaths due to the virus. All three were over 65 years of age and all passed away at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley. The Public Health Office reported they were a 76 year old Hispanic man from Ukiah, a 68 year old White man from the North County and a 67 year old man whose ethnicity was just marked as other, he too was from the North County.  Mendo Fever reports the three deaths came after the largest single day of positive results of cases, 71 on December 31st.

A woman who had a Black Lives Matter sign on her Laytonville property says it was stolen. Mendo Fever reports the owner of the Black Oak Ranch, Susy Barsotti, reported vandals used a chainsaw to cut down the sign and steal it on New Year’s Eve. She says there’s been ongoing vandalism of the sign since September when there was a robbery at a cannabis farm next door. She says someone changed her sign after to read Black Lies Matter instead, then someone splattered paint on the sign to hide the message.  Which she fixed. Then last week the sign was taken.

A man from Sonoma County has died along with two kids after the three were swept off the beach by a sneaker wave. The Press Democrat reports the 40 year old man and his children, a 4 year old boy and 7 year old girl near Goat Rock died Sunday. The dad’s body was found at Blind Beach by his wife, but the two children’s bodies were not found. The family just moved to Petaluma recently. A ranger said he had heard the dad who had one of the children’s hands, but lost grasp and jumped in after them. The day before a man from Southern California fell off the rocks below the Mendocino Headlands. He slipped while taking photos. His body was found in the water after about 45 minutes. There had been a high surf advisory on the coast over the weekend. On Friday waves hit up to 20 feet high.

An inmate at the Lake County Jail has been found dead in his cell. Daniel King of Clearlake was reportedly being seen for an advanced medical issue, but the Sheriff’s office reported it was not COVID related. The death happened Saturday night after midnight. Some cellmates called for help before midnight after finding the man unresponsive. Medics reported to the jail and tried CPR on him, to no avail. He was declared dead there. His death was said to be unexpected and did not involve trauma. King had been at the jail since February of last year and was waiting to be transferred to a state prison for a four year term for a probation violation of a domestic violence charge.  The death is being investigated by the DA’s office since it happened at the jail and an autopsy will be conducted too.

Some funeral homes in Calif. are turning families away because they’re overwhelmed with COVID cases. The head of the state funeral directors association says the funeral homes, like hospitals are being overrun. The Press Democrat reports one funeral home in Southern Calif. reports 30 body removals a day — six times more than usual. Some of the funeral home owners are calling each other to see who can take in the overflow, but there’s been no luck. Some say they’ve had to rent refrigerators. And there are reports of delayed hospital pickups. The executive director of the California Funeral Directors Association says it’s taking several days longer for cremations too. In before times it was a day or two, but now it could take up to a week or more.

The Mendocino County Sheriff has a presentation in front of the Board of Supervisors to get more money because of the mounting illegal marijuana grows and organized crime. Sheriff Matt Kendall is reportedly going to ask the board to hire ten more deputies as part of his power point presentation that he’s titled, “Imminent Threat – Appropriate Response”. There are a couple photos in the presentation, one with a trigger warning from some, a hogtied Black man, something 5th District Supervisor Ted Williams posted on Facebook it detracts from the otherwise relevant information. But the sheriff says residents tied the man up because he’s understaffed, and that’s when vigilante action takes over.

Police in Clearlake are looking for a man they say is connected to an attempted murder and assault on New Year’s Day. Police say the man was still on the run, but they arrested the victim who was taken to a hospital out of the county, because they had a bunch of ammunition, a large capacity magazine and an AR15 rifle ghost gun.  They’re searching for 31 year old Jose Ceja-Torres for the felony violations of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon after reports of a gunshot victim. A man in his 40’s was found wounded and flown to a hospital for treatment. Ceja-Torres’ was identified as the shooter and was found to be wanted for being armed with a firearm while in possession of drugs and possession of marijuana for sale and felony evading a police officer. He is considered armed and dangerous.

The longest serving member on the Lake County Board of Supervisors is leaving. At the board meeting tomorrow, a fond farewell to Supervisor Rob Brown after 2 decades of service. He will speak at the meeting and he will receive a commendation for his 20 years. Then the oath of office will be administered to the District 1 Supervisor Moke Simon and District 4 Supervisor Tina Scott, and the newest member Supervisor Jessica Pyska, who won Brown’s seat in November. Simon is the outgoing chair so he will preside over an election for that position and vice chair and a couple of board appointments will be made too. Later in the meeting the public health officer will give a coronavirus update.

In Lakeport, they’ll start the first meeting of the new year discussing the pandemic. The meeting is online tomorrow night, the city council chambers remain closed to the public. A new Utilities Operator will be introduced and the city manager will talk about the city’s continuing response to coronavirus. The City Manager Kevin Ingram had previously requested staffers work closely with the League of California Cities so rural areas can be represented for COVID-19 relief for local businesses and residents then bring what they find back to the council for more consideration. They will review if the city needs to respond differently after that request almost a month ago. The council will also be appointed to various boards, committees and commissions.

Mendocino County reports because state waivers are expiring for pressure-treated wood, it will now be classified as a hazardous material. Apparently the wood is sometimes required by state Building Code, but now residents will only be able to dispose of it with Mendo Recycle for a fee, but commercial customers may have more of an issue getting rid of it. The chemicals used on it protect it from bug infestations and decay. Used for such things as fence posts, railroad ties and in decks. Starting this New Year though the state is requiring the treated wood waste to be categorized as hazardous material (HazMat), which means it cannot be accepted anymore by waste haulers or at transfer stations in Mendocino County. 

A car and semi get tangled up in Ukiah sending two people to the hospital. Mendo Fever reports the accident happened Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of North State Street and Parducci Road. The CHP reports one of the people had to be flown to an out of county hospital due to the severity of their injuries. 37-year-old Curtis Bettega from Clearlake was reportedly parked in his Cadillac Escalade on North State Street and went to make a u-turn when the other driver, 49-year-old Michael Renno of Willits, on Parducci Road driving a semi stuck the Escalade. Bettega, was the one who had to be flown to Santa Rosa Memorial, but has since been released. The news site reports a passenger in the Escalade, Mindy Pratt was taken to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley to treat minor injuries. Alcohol or drugs are not considered a factor in the crash.

A vandalism spree in Ukiah leaves a trail of damage behind. Police report five businesses were struck in the area of South State Street and Luce Avenue yesterday morning. Windows were shattered and soon after, Michael Domanowski was found “inside a near-by business” and arrested. Police say video surveillance from three of the businesses helped police, who then contacted Domanowski. They say he had evidence linking him to the crimes. He’s charged with felony vandalism. The businesses hit are reported to be Express Mart, Downtown Dogs , The Center for Hope church, ABC Supply Company, and Stephanie’s Signature Hair.

A man reportedly shooting a gun floating down a river. That’s what Mendo Fever is reporting, that scanner traffic had Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the State Parks Dept. requested to investigate reports of shots fired near Big River about 3-4 miles up Haul Road. The Sheriff’s report said the guy was floating down the river, in an area known for duck hunting, and firing a rifle.

The Gov. has announced spending billions to reopen schools in a safe manner during the pandemic. Gov. Newsom announced yesterday there will be new protocols and safety measures so schools can safely reopen. He says his phased approach to slow the spread of the virus will include testing, ventilation and personal protective gear in schools. 2 billion dollars will be pored into the effort. Newsom said it’s most important to get back to in person learning, especially for the youngest children, others with disabilities or limited access to technology at home and for others struggling the most with distance learning. Lawmakers reportedly worked with the Governor’s office on the plan so schools have the needed resources for safety precautions to reopen classrooms. Distance learning will still be okay for parents who want their children at home, instead of in person.

Several hundred doses of the new coronavirus vaccine have arrived and have gone into the arms of local healthcare workers in Lake County. The County’s Public Health officer Dr. Gary Pace reports getting 1,300 doses so far which they’re administering as fast as they can. At the same time, Dr. Pace also remarked that the county is seeing continued surging cases with hospitals full, but he says, fortunately, not overwhelmed.  So far the county has had 1,819 positive cases, most of them are recovered. 23 people have died. 12 are currently in the hospital. Dr. Pace says the vaccine distribution began a couple of weeks ago and they’re following state guidelines to first give the first shot to health care providers, first responders and staff at skilled nursing facilities. So far 600 shots have been administered. Pace says the two local hospitals – Sutter Lakeside and Adventist Health Clear Lake, emergency medical services and all three skilled nursing facilities have immunized most staffers who wanted the vaccine, all of their second doses will be administered in coming weeks.

New rules on allowing inmates to help fight fires. This year was different as one of the most devastating wildfire seasons on record, some inmates couldn’t help due to the pandemic. But about a third of those on the frontlines have been prisoners. They have not been allowed to be firefighters once they’re released until now. A new law will allow formerly imprisoned firefighters to get hired in fire departments. Now former prisoners who took part in fire programs can apply and have their records expunged.  A court must rule individually on getting their records cleared, then they can apply for fire certification. The California DA’s Association was against the idea, but the bill’s author says those committed to turning their lives around deserve a second chance.

A new scholarship fund has been set up at Mendocino College. The college foundation started the Charlie Barra Perpetual Scholarship for any student graduating from Ukiah High, who wants to be an agriculture major at Mendocino College. Barra had been popularly known as Mendocino County’s “godfather of grape growing.” He worked in farming and grape growing more than 70 years, and was said to have never missed a grape harvest. He was also a passionate advocate for Mendocino County, the California North Coast Grape Growers Association, and spent more than 20 years in public service. The perpetual scholarship to honor his legacy will give a yearly $1,000 scholarship in perpetuity to an agriculture major at Mendocino College.

State health officials watching the COVID19 cases rise since Halloween and are said to be worrying about what’s to come after Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Residents were warned not to gather or travel, but we’ve seen a surge of infections since the end of November. Things looked to be plateauing in the Bay Area and much of Northern California, but the state Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly says he’s worried about “exposure upon exposure”. Ghaly says infections could be amplified if folks who caught the virus over the holidays spread it at New Year’s Eve parties. Health officials have been pleading since Thanksgiving for people to stay home and stay safe. They say if you’ve been exposed there could be a 24-48 hour window where you’re symptomatic but don’t know, potentially spreading the virus.

A $60,000 scholarship for high school seniors is being offered for the 20th year in a row by Medicom. The company’s scholarship program offers a $1,000 World Class Scholarship to 60 high school seniors interested in furthering their education. Those who win the money can decide if they want to use it on post-secondary college or vocational training from an accredited institution. They must start in the fall of 2021. Those who get the scholarship are judged on academic achievement and leadership. You can grab an application at the website. The deadline to apply is February 15th.

A woman from Gualala has been reported missing after calling family to say she was upset and walking into the woods. Mendocino Deputies set out to search for Kerry Bonanno along with other community members, family and friends. So far the woman has not been spotted after vanishing yesterday. She’s described as being a White woman, 5 foot 6, 130 pounds with blonde hair, blue eyes. It’s unknown what she was wearing when she left her house. The Sheriff’s Dept. is asking anyone who may know where Bonanno is to call. They say they’ll be sending out Search & Rescue teams today with a bloodhound tracking dog to help. 

A man in Willits in jail after an altercation with deputies. The California Highway Patrol reports getting a call to a home in Willits and sent the info to deputies who found Kevin Pike had destroyed items at the home. The person who called invited deputies inside where they were confronted by Pike who they knew from previous incidents. They say he was verbally abusive to them and started to physically attack them, they fell to the ground after he spit on them. Two deputies had visible injuries but didn’t need medical treatment. Pike’s charged with assault causing injury (243(D) PC), threatening, or using violence against a Peace Officer (69 PC), and resist or delaying a Peace Officer in the performance of their duties (148(A) PC). He’s held on $15,000.00 bail.

A young woman and 17 year old boy have been arrested on drug charges in Willits. 19 year old Isabelle Burton and the 17 year old reportedly got into a fight with others at a home. The 17 year old was on probation so he was searched. Deputies found blue pills, a digital scale with white residue on it, a large number of small zip lock bags and cash. They searched his bedroom and found marijuana honey oil, used for edibles, and they found edibles packaged in various forms for sale, plus magic mushrooms, more marijuana, cocaine, LSD, a bunch of prescription pills, more honey oil, two zip lock bags of “DMT” and more cash. The two were arrested on various charges including possession for sale of a controlled substance and possession for sale of marijuana. The minor was taken to juvenile hall and Burton was released after agreeing by signature to appear in court due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the jail. 

More cases of coronavirus at the Mendocino County Jail. After more testing a total of 18 inmates and 10 staff members have tested positive at the Main Adult Detention Facility, or County Jail. The cases started to show up November 30th. The Sheriff’s Office reports no deaths or hospitalizations and currently there are 11 infected inmates and two staffers. The Sheriff’s Office reports the health and safety of the inmates and staff are a top priority and they’re doing everything to prevent anymore cases. They’re working with the Public Health Dept. to make sure their COVID protocol is working or to make improvements. Some of the protocols include mandatory mask-wearing by inmates and staff, surveillance testing, quarantine procedures, air filtration, surface disinfection, reduced interaction between inmates, significantly reduced visitation and only booking people who’ve been arrested for serious, violent, or sexual crimes.

State Senator Mike McGuire has reintroduced a bill which he says will protect journalists who go to report on events protected by the First Amendment. There were more reported attacks on reporters or other members of the press in 2020, especially during the summertime anti-racism protests. Some of those reports include reporters being hit by rubber bullets, hit with batons, sprayed with tear gas, and detained as they worked to document the current events. McGuire says his bill, SB 98 will ensure journalists are protected when they’re at demonstrations, marches, protests, and rallies; and that it will stop police officers from obstructing, detaining, assaulting, or otherwise preventing the press from fulfilling their constitutional mandate in reporting on these events.

A teenager from Guerneville has been killed in a crash in Santa Rosa. The 14 year old died after the hit and run Monday where she was riding in a friend’s car, a 16 year old, who was later arrested on suspicion of DUI. The female passenger had no apparent injuries after the crash and no signs of trauma and police say they’re looking into what happened before the crash, which was minor. The 14 year old appeared to be sleeping at the time of the incident and was found to be unconscious and not breathing. An ambulance was called and CPR at the scene was unsuccessful.  The 16 year old driver was taken to a hospital to be treated for intoxication, arrested, then released to her parents. Police say there will be a toxicology and autopsy to help them figure out the 14 year old’s cause of death.

An extension for the regions of the state in strict stay at home orders due to continued rising cases and hospitalizations. Yesterday the Governor lengthened the stay home order in both Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. The California’s health and human services secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says this time, there’s no three week time limit, there’s no date certain at all for when the restrictions might be relaxed. Ghaly said if was for the time being and relaxed rules depend on ICU bed projecting four weeks into the future. This week we saw record breaking days of new coronavirus infections in a single day, on Monday, which did include a couple of weekend days, we hit almost 67,000 new cases. 

Trials in Lake County Superior Court are on hold due to increasing COVID19 cases across the state and locally. The California Supreme Court chief justice approved the emergency order after a request for emergency relief regarding court operations during a state of emergency. So no criminal trials for no more than 30 days, if the deadline to try the case was supposed to expire today. That deadline’s been extended to Jan. 28th instead. This is the fifth time the state approved the order for Lake County Superior Court due to the pandemic. Since the last request two employees of the court tested positive for COVID19. Lake Co News reports the order currently only affects two defendants, each of whom has not waived their right to a trial within the time frames set out by law.

The Lake County Hunger Task Force is no more. Lake Co News reports a lack of volunteers appears to be the reason for the end. The task force came to be 20 years ago next month. It was started after a hunger study of Lake and Mendocino counties. 45 people came to their first meeting which ended up going on every month over the years. But the news site reports less and less people were attending. They started a food drive to distribute items to food banks around the lake, and over the last two years they took part in the nationwide Make A Difference Day. They also had their own garden and ran a backpack program for local kids. They say they’ll distribute what’s left of their money to 14 other nonprofits to be used for food only.

A man from Ukiah’s arrested for having child pornography. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports contacting 37 year old Jose Enevi Zarza-Quintero Dec. 23rd. He had an active arrest warrant for possession of child pornography and was arrested without incident and held on $20,000 bail.

A man from Upper Lake accused of bludgeoning his partner to death with a rock in court to try to change his court appointed lawyer. The court said yes to Willy Tujays Timmons request so the court appointed attorney was relieved of her duty. Another lawyer was appointed and now there’s a new court date to reset the date of the jury trial, but not until February. Timmons is charged with not only murder, but for inflicting corporal injury with a prior conviction within seven years, causing permanent disability, and torture among more charges for the June 2017 death of the mother of his children, Vanessa Niko. He’s in custody currently and the case was determined not to be a capital punishment case early on.

The vaccine for coronavirus is being administered to seniors in Sonoma County. Almost one year into the pandemic, which has killed over 120 elderly Sonoma County residents. Staff and residents at some skilled nursing facilities have begun to get their vaccinations. The Press Democrat reports almost 70% of those who have died from the virus in the county were in those over 75 years old. There were also two new deaths yesterday. The county has had almost 4,000 new cases the last two weeks, the highest 14-day case rate so far. Other such facilities in the county are lining up for the shots too, both Walgreens and CVS pharmacists are helping to give the shots. The newspaper reports all of the senior care facilities in the county should have their first shots by the end of next month.

In an effort to stop impaired driving, the California Highway Patrol has announced almost $27 million in grant funds from Proposition 64, which legalized recreational Marijuana. Some of the tax money provided for in the original initiative sets money aside for the CHP to administer local grants for education, prevention, and enforcement related to impaired driving. They’ll be distributing grants across the state for law enforcement agencies and toxicology laboratories. There will be a workshop next month for those interested in applying for the grants. You can go to the CHP website and find the info on meeting eligibility requirements. Applications are being accepting thru February 23rd.

Several people are checking into hospitals in Sonoma County during this explosive surge in coronavirus cases. The Press Democrat reports healthcare officials in the county say they’re not in danger yet, of running low on equipment, personnel and beds. It comes as some residents and staff members at senior care facilities are starting to get offered the vaccine. The county started inoculating the first tier of healthcare workers nearly 2 weeks ago. But the last two weeks, the county has averaged 271 new cases/day. Then on Sunday it was 392 cases, the highest since the pandemic first surfaced. The Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says there’s widespread community transmission, and the virus, is everywhere. As of Sunday, the county had 74 people in a hospital, including 20 in an ICU. There are still 23 available ICU beds.

The Gov. says he’s considering a request for a one year extension of the National Guard to go out to food banks short on staff. 19 state lawmakers asking the state for the extension. The Press Democrat reports the CEO of the Redwood Empire Food Bank supports the idea. The food bank has distributed almost 25,000 boxes of food, packed by guard members. The food bank gives out food to over 300 curbside distribution sites in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt, Sonoma and Del Norte counties. There have been about ten Guard soldiers packing 1,200 food boxes a day at the food bank’s warehouse.

Patients continue to pour into hospitals across a big chunk of the state. The Governor used part of his weekly address yesterday warning residents to be prepared for the surge upon surge upon surge from recent holiday travel. ICU beds in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have zero capacity and the Governor says it’s obvious the latest stay home order has to be extended where there are hospital ICUs with less than 15% capacity. He did say however that admissions to hospitals have been plateauing in some places. But Newsom added, Calif will soon enter a new phase where hospital beds will be filled in arenas, schools and tents.

Another death from coronavirus has been reported in Mendocino County. The Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard showed there have been 26 deaths. Last week we hit 25. The County Administrative Office reported the latest death was a Latino man in his 70’s from Ukiah. The county’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer says the man died while in intensive care at Adventist Health Sunday morning. The death as the Governor, and local officials are warning not to gather over the holidays. Public Health has posted multiple times on Facebook against holiday gatherings.

A man who killed his traveling companion from Illinois has been sentenced to four years in prison. 22 year old Mavrick Fisher was sentenced last week for the August 2019 murder of Grant Whitaker outside Clearlake. The two reportedly came to Calif. in hopes of starting a camp for the deaf together. They ended up in an altercation while camping. Fisher admitted to the killing and even led police to the dead man’s body. Last month a jury found Fisher guilty of involuntary manslaughter and stealing a car. But he was found not guilty of murder and the jury was deadlocked on voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon with a special allegation of great bodily injury or death.

Record high numbers of covid cases in Lake County. In one of his weekly addresses, the Public Health Officer, Dr. Gary Pace says we might see another surge due to Xmas gatherings even though the state rate has started to plateau after the Thanksgiving surge and stay-at-home orders across the state. Lake County is in the RANCHO region of Northern Calif. one of five regions the state is dividing to keep track of cases. It’s the only region not in the new strict lockdown because the ICU rate has not dipped below 15-percent. Dr. Pace says Lake County’s case load started to rise last month and sits at 41 cases per 100,000, the most since the pandemic started. The positivity rate is 11 percent. There have been nearly 1,800 cases and 23 deaths. Pace says there are currently 300 active cases, 12 people are in a hospital.

California is partnering with the federal COVID19 Pharmacy Partnership. This costs nothing for Calif. to be part of. It allows CVS and Walgreens to administer the Pfizer vaccine to residents and staff in long-term care facilities. Starting next week the two drug store chains will start inoculating folks in nursing homes which should take about three to four weeks. Then they’ll vaccinate staff and residents in assisted living, residential care and other long-term care facilities. Gov. Newsom says leveraging CVS and Walgreens resources can help get the vaccines to the facilities where there’s a higher risk of Covid transmission. There are about 499 nursing homes that will get the vaccine from CVS and 357 from Walgreens. In Lake County, the public health officer says they’ll vaccinate skilled nursing facility staff ahead of the CVS and Walgreens because they’re not starting until mid-January in Lake County.

A man accused of killing his daughter in Hidden Valley Lake in 2017 is finally going to trial. Steven Russell Miller in court for the killing of Hannah Welch. A court found enough evidence to find him guilty in January of 2018 but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. A doctor has now found that he’s competent to stand trial in the case so he will be tried next year. Several doctors had examined him in 2018 and he was found incompetent to stand trial and that he would not be able to understand the criminal proceedings or assist counsel in a rational manner. A couple months later he was found to be competent and has been in a state hospital since. He’s due in court after the new year.

The state Supreme Court has ruled those in jail or prison found guilty of nonviolent sex crimes could be on the list for early parole consideration, that’s the law in the state. The ballot measure won over four years ago. The Chief Justice of the Calif. Supreme Court wrote that the initiative’s language gave no indication voters intended to exclude inmates based on their sex offense convictions if it was a nonviolent felony. The former Gov. Jerry Brown was behind the 2016 initiative so as to reduce prison populations and expense. But since that time, proponents of the measure have said they never intended for it to include sex offenders. The language in the initiative though did not exclude them.

The most cases ever of COVID19 even as the Governor says new cases are beginning to plateau. The governor spoke yesterday about the need to use arenas, tents and parking lots for more patients, and by the end of Monday there were nearly 66,000 new cases, the most ever. It did have some cases added on that were delayed over the weekend. There were also 249 deaths recorded yesterday, mostly out of Southern California and parts of the Central Valley. Calif. broke a record last week, becoming the first state to record over 2 million cases of coronavirus, and now is about to break another, 20,000 in the hospital with the virus. Right now Calif. has more hospitalizations than any other state.

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.

It’s the Maximum Enforcement Period for the CHP like so many other holiday weekends. The patrol reminding to stay safe on the roads and watch out for other distracted drivers. They say even though traffic could be lighter due to the pandemic, staying safe is as critical as ever. So no speeding, avoid driving tired, impaired, or distracted. Most of the state is in the strict stay home order and we’ve been advised to be at home as much as possible. So with that, don’t travel too far, drive sober, avoid distractions, always buckle up, and leave plenty of time to get to your destination. The Maximum Enforcement Period starts this evening at 6:01 p.m. and goes until Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

A man from Ukiah’s been arrested after reports of child abuse. Deputies found a 13 year old girl with Brandon Wiard after a Wildlife Officer on routine patrol saw them. Deputies say the two may have been having a sexual relationship. They say though that it started when the girl was only 12 and it had been ongoing for about a year. Wiard has been arrested for willfully engaging in lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of fourteen and for sex with someone under 14. They asked for a bail enhancement due to the pandemic, which was granted. Wiard’s held in the Mendocino County Jail on $175,000.00 bail. Detectives are still investigating and ask anyone who may know Wiard or the girl to call them.

Deputies at the Hare Creek drainage area in Fort Bragg because of continuing trespassing complaints. The sheriff’s office reports the trespassing over 150-acres of private land where there’s been a history of the homeless using the properties. So cops went in to remove debris and garbage. With the help of other agencies the sheriff’s department cleaned the area of large accumulations of garbage, biohazards, and fire risks. They say there was also criminal activity beyond illegal drug use which was an annoyance to neighbors and nearby businesses.  Along with the Sheriff’s office multiple agencies and groups helped with the encampment cleanup including Fort Bragg Police, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Rotary Club of Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg Fire Department, and Friends of the Hospitality House. And the state Department of Transportation provided trash collection equipment.

An outbreak of coronavirus has been reported at the Mendocino County Jail. Following in the footsteps of the Lake County Jail before it, the sheriff’s office here reports a deputy was off work, feeling sick so they got tested for COVID19 with a positive test returned last Saturday, so they started contact tracing. It was found a couple of other deputies had been in contact with the infected officer, so they too were tested. One of them had a positive test at the same time another employee reported feeling ill and got a positive test result. At this point, on Tuesday the Mendocino County Public Health Dept. got involved testing more staffers and inmates. 3 male inmates reported flu like symptoms so they were tested and came back with positive results. Their housing unit was then quarantined when a second housing unit had a sick inmate with a positive test too. That was another quarantine situation. At the moment the jail is being sanitized. (4 inmates and 3 deputies.) 

In Sonoma County they’ve now received several hundred doses of the Moderna Vaccine. 5,800 doses of the vaccine came in yesterday with an additional 3,000 expected next week. This is on top of the 7,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with more coming. The vaccine’s arrival, none too soon as the county’s been hit hard by the pandemic. The Public Health Office is also reporting they’ve heard about the plans by the Graton Resort and Casino to host a massive New Year’s Eve party indoors, inviting 4,000 people to attend. The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is not bound to follow the state’s health restrictions as they’re a U.S. sovereign entity. But apparently they’re working with public health to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Local Sonoma County hospitals have been getting their vaccine shipments directly from Pfizer and Moderna. The Press Democrat reports the doses received are being used on front-line health care workers. Next week residents and staff at nursing homes are getting vaccinated as part of a partnership with CVS and Walgreens. The newspaper is reporting Public Health Dept. is vaccinating first responders, including paramedics, firefighters and other emergency services workers, then it’s staff at local kidney dialysis centers, the psychiatric hospital in Santa Rosa and the county’s psychiatric emergency center. Dr. Sundari Mase is asking residents to be careful over the holidays and please avoid gathering for Christmas and New Year’s. It comes after data showing the Thanksgiving holiday added to the already increasing cases. The seven-day average in Sonoma County was about 45 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

A car reportedly leaves the scene of a crash in Laytonville. Mendo Fever reports hearing on the scanner about the crash yesterday afternoon around 3:40 p.m. south of Laytonville with a motorcycle and a Mazda near where the 101 and Davidson Lane meet. The CHP reported it was possible a teal colored Mazda that fled the scene after possibly hitting a ditch. And that the Mazda may have damaged a tire and could have been driving without enough air in that tire. No injuries were reported.

A water main break in Fort Bragg has led to a boil water order for residents. It happened where East Bush and North McPherson Street meet. Crews working yesterday to get the main fixed. The mayor tells Mendo Fever the repairs were complete at 3:30 p.m. and that a couple square blocks around the break still had the boiling water order in place. The water has to be tested over a 24 hour period before the order can be lifted.

New COVID19 testing hours coming to Lake County. The Public Health Officer says the company Verily, who’s been doing the testing in the county is being replaced by OptumServe. There will no longer be any drive-thru testing, it will all be indoors in Lakeport and Lower Lake. Starting after New Year’s, testing in Lakeport will be at the Silveira Community Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. Then on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Lower Lake Town Hall, 16195 Main St. The only day where no testing will be available is on Sunday. The Public Health Office says you don’t need an appointment. Also Rite Aid will be doing testing in Clearlake, and that’s with Verily, you do need an appointment for that.

Since the state got less vaccines than had been anticipated the state may have to decide who gets the limited supply first, essential workers or the elderly. About 2 million doses are set to arrive next month, but almost 12 million residents are essential workers, and about half are thought to be the highest priority, not even including health care workers. About 6 million people are over the age of 65 too. Several dozen groups in Calif. are helping the state decide who the priority should be as part of the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee. Right now, state guidelines say the vaccine should go to workers in three groups: education and childcare workers, emergency services personnel and finally those working in high-priority essential businesses, from agriculture and grocery services to plant nurseries and sawmills.

2 more people have died from the virus. The Mendocino County Public Health Dept. reports one of them was a county resident. The 25th death showed up on the county’s coronavirus dashboard last week, then the following day the Public Health Officer said that person didn’t live in the county and should not have been added to the county’s data, so he lowered the death count to 24. Then Friday there was a death of a county resident, and the dashboard went back up to 25. That death was a Hispanic man over 65 living in Ukiah. Also the county reported another 58 cases the last 2 days for a total of 2,314 cases. The Public Health Office also reports 17 people are in the hospital, including 5 in an ICU.

The city of Fort Bragg looking at innovative ways to bring in tourism dollars. During a city council meeting the city manager reported about $50,000 left in the Visit Fort Bragg budget as of October. The tourism industry has taken a hit due to the pandemic. Visit Fort Bragg holding onto $10,000 for a spring event, but right now most of the state is on a strict stay home order. The city’s deciding if it should promote events like the biannual whale migration. Other events that are on the tourism promotion list include Winter Visitation in January, Fort Bragg Restaurant Week in February and Fort Bragg ‘Book Early’ Week in March.

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 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.

The latest jobless report in Calif. shows unemployment claims were down. The unemployment rate in the state down 0.8 percent to 8.2 percent for November with 57,100 new jobs. The rate also the lowest since it’s been since March. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also shows the jobless rate down to 6.7 nationally, but twice as high as one year ago. Lake County is the 35th out of the state’s 58 counties for its jobless rate at 7.3%, Mendocino County wasn’t far behind with 6.8% unemployment, Sonoma, 5.5 percent, Yolo, at 5.8 percent.

The end of year funding for the government has been tacked on to a massive coronavirus relief package that’s expected to get to the president before Christmas. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (CA-05) voted yes for the omnibus and coronavirus relief bill, which will bring $600 direct payments to residents and an extra $300/week in unemployment for those who have lost their jobs. The bill has billions in relief for healthcare, including helping to pay to move the vaccine across the country and money to continue paying for testing and new therapies related to the pandemic. There’s also money in the bill to help schools and small businesses.

The CARES Small Business Assistance Grant Program in Lake County has distributed over $1 million in grants to eligible small businesses. Lake Co News reports the county, and the Lake County Economic Development Corp. are working together to help businesses during the pandemic to provide much-needed financial relief to businesses at a key juncture of COVID-19 pandemic response. The president of the corp. says the work is not done helping businesses. That we all have to do our part and support local businesses by using local pick up and home delivery, shop local and keep on visiting businesses in the county who can provide safe in person services too.

After massive, months long lasting wildfires, the forest supervisors in the Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers national forests report the August Complex vegetation and resource rapid assessment is done. The work after the massive gigafire to assess restoration areas, look for possible areas that are a risk to public safety, cultural or natural resources and come up with a way to manage the post-fire landscape across forest boundaries. It’s the first part of the work on hazard reduction and restoration. More work will be done with public input before the restoration work gets underway.

Cal Fire in Mendocino County has lifted the burn ban after recent rains and cooler temperatures. The agency says that has reduced the threat of wildfires. So starting next Monday, the 28th, you won’t need a burning permit for residential piles of 4 x 4 feet or smaller. Burn piles larger than 4 x 4 you will require a CAL FIRE burn permit. You have to follow the rules of the Mendocino County Air Quality District. You have to make sure you’re burning on a permissive burn day which you can do 24/7. They ask that you use caution while burning debris or agriculture, follow all guidelines provided, and maintain control of the fire at all times. Only dry, natural vegetative material like leaves, pine needles and tree trimmings can be burned. Someone needs to be there with the fire as it burns and it make sure it’s out. You can be held liable for the fire if it should get out of control or burn onto a neighboring property.

Police in Fort Bragg getting ahead of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases is closing the front lobby of the police department to walk in traffic. Starting Monday you can visit the department, but access will be restricted to protect the public and police department staff. For vehicle releases, property returns and ticket sign-offs, you can call into dispatch with the telephone right outside the front door. They will then be in touch with whoever on staff you need. They will not be offering Livescan services at this time and say they hope it’s a short closure, and that they’ll be back to full service again soon.

In Sonoma County they expect to vaccinate as many as 20,000 front-line medical workers this week. They will be doing the inoculations at many of the county’s 20 nursing and 177 long-term care facilities next week. The county has received 1,950 more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, but that’s only two thirds what the county was expecting. The public health officer, Dr. Sundari Mase says they should be getting more vaccines soon including 5,800 doses of the newly approved Moderna vaccine. Mase says the county is facing the darkest days of the virus right now as there are nearly 42 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Twice as many as last week.  About 238 cases are reported everyday, as compared to 135 cases a day over the previous two weeks.

Almost 25% of the hospitals in Calif. have patients with the virus and there’s only about 2% ICU bed availability across all hospitals. This is the worst surge so far according to public health experts. New infections, hospitalizations, ICU patients and deaths are increasing without slowing. California has the second-most new cases per 100,000 residents this past week. Only Tennessee, in all of the states of the union, was ahead of Calif. There have been more than 512,000 new cases identified the last two weeks, that includes over 90,000 this past weekend. There are about 17,000 in the hospital and 3,600 in ICU beds as of Sunday.

Some counties in the state are reportedly not keeping up with their data dashboards. Health officials say the case rate is up, but the rate at which the cases are increasing is slower. Many counties had no update over the weekend though, so that could account for some of that. Even still cases are climbing up a steep hill with no signs of flattening.  New cases did fall in Alameda, Los Angeles and San Francisco counties. There have been over 1,500 cases in Lake County and 22 deaths and more than 2,200 in Mendocino County and 25 deaths.

Looks like we’ll be seeing a continuation of the ever-so-long lasting backlog of unemployment claims. The amount is up again with as many as 683,200 California workers in limbo as the state tries to catch up with the mountain of jobless claims. There were 12,500 more claims last week compared to the week before. The backlog includes unpaid initial unemployment claims and unpaid continuing claims. There are 370,300 first time claims and nearly 313,000 continued claims.  There’s been some upheaval at the department, but early this fall they vowed to catch up to all the backlogged claims by the end of January.  

The pear harvest, like so many other things, is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Record Bee reports speaking to local growers who say not only did they have to shut down for public safety reasons, they saw a shift in the way people buy produce. Also the food service industry as a whole and bigger school districts slowed during the pandemic. One of the larger growers, the Scully family says they had hundreds of people working for them where social distancing was not possible, but they all wore masks, sanitized, socially distanced at break times, and used other protocols. The Public Health Officer, Dr, Gary Pace was also in contact with the growers during the season to help make sure they followed guidelines.

There have been more than a half million coronavirus cases in the state the last two weeks with the governor saying he believes the state could have almost 100,000 hospitalizations within a month. Some rural areas are getting hit hard and hospital capacity is nil. In Imperial County there are 175 people in one hospital, 131 are COVID positive. They can fit up to 161 beds and have added a 50-bed tent in the parking lot. The Governor is quarantined again too after a staffer in his office tested positive, the second time in two months. The state secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, says soon entire chunks of the state may have no hospital beds at all even in these add on facilities. Right now we’re seeing the biggest spike in cases so far.

The state’s dealing with a shortage of nurses and doctors due to the pandemic. The state is in need of 3,000 temporary medical workers at the moment. The state’s reportedly asking for help from as far away as Australia and Taiwan, there are low case rates there, and high case rates in the states. The Governor says the state already has relationships with countries that can help provide aid during crises like wildfires. The state usually uses staffing companies in times of need for travel nurses, but Calif. has strict one nurse, to every 2 patients in ICU rules. And one for four patients in ER’s. There are not many available nurses with demand up nearly 50%. Calif. one of 5 states requesting more staff.