By Jondi Gumz
The coronavirus COVID-19 Delta variant claimed lives of three vaccinated individuals in September and October in Santa Cruz County, bringing the total fatalities to 216. Two white women died, one in her mid-60s, and one in her early 70s, and a man in his 90s; all three had underlying health conditions.
As of Oct. 6, active cases in Santa Cruz County dropped 21 percent; those numbers are updated weekly. As of Oct. 11, there were 355 active cases, a declining number; statistics are updated on Mondays and Thursdays.
The number of hospitalization in the county, which had been as high as 21, is now 4, including one in the ICU.
On Sept. 29, the county lifted the indoor mask mandate after the federal Centers for Disease Control reported transmission was down, putting the county in the yellow (moderate) tier. The mandate has been instituted Aug. 24 after cases grew 64 percent.
However, state guidelines require students and school staff working with them to be masked indoors.
One sign of business confidence: Landmark, which owns the historic Del Mar Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz, reopened Oct. 8. No word on the smaller Nickelodeon in Santa Cruz, also owned by Landmark.
On Oct. 1, fresh off his recall landslide victory, Gov. Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person once the vaccine receives full approval from federal regulators for middle and high school grades.
California is the first state in the nation to announce such a measure.
“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella — there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19,” Newsom said.
On that date, no vaccines were approved for kids under 12, but on Oct. 7, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
That would provide relief to parents who want their younger children vaccinated.
Enrollment in public schools in down 2.5 percent in California, the state Department of Education reports.
That’s a scary situation for local school officials because funding is based largely on enrollment. Factors include the switch to online instruction in 2020, the postponement of sports, and the loss of popular activities such as theater and singing groups, all for safety reasons. Some parents, worried about side effects, do not want to vaccinate their children.
Losing funding will make it more difficult to restore lost services.
County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah, in an Oct.1 letter to families, called anticipated FDA approval of the vaccine for kids age 5-11 “a welcome step.” He expects approval at the end of October.
“We are working with health providers to ensure we are ready to offer vaccination for students once they are authorized by the FDA,” he wrote.
All the public superintendents in Santa Cruz County signed a letter praising Sabbah for his leadership in the pandemic.
He opened a testing site with Inspire Diagnostics at his office on Encinal Street in Santa Cruz to speed up school testing and launched a new website santacruzcoe.org/coviddashboards, to report on active cases and test results.
This dashboard links to individual school districts. Pajaro Valley numbers are at https://pps-pajaro-ca.schoolloop.com/pf4/cms2/view_page?d=x&group_id=1516177972153&vdid=i2l1g2ptdha4wv1
Pajaro Valley reports 6 student cases in all, three active cases at Bradley Elementary, two at E.A. Hall, and one at Lakeview Middle. Among staff, there are two cases, one at Freedom and one at Landmark Elementary
Testing sites are open at Cabrillo College in Aptos, parking lot K, from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and at the PVUSD District Office parking lot, open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.
Students and their families, and staff and their families are welcome to use this free service. Those needing a test simply fill out the registration one time at http://sccoe.link/inspiresc and go to either site. No appointment is needed.
Total Cases: 19,705
COVID Deaths: 216
As of Oct. 13
85 and older: 96 • 75 to 84: 47 • 64-74: 39 • 60-64: 13 • 55-59: 3 • 45-54: 6 • 35-44: 7 • 25-34: 5
Yes:170 • No: 46
White 120 • Latinx 78 • Asian 15 • Black1 • Amer Indian/Alaskan native 1
Male: 109 • Female 107
Senior Care Facility
Yes: 103 • No 113