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March 31, 2020

Restaurants, markets open for community | About Town

Johanna Miller

A lot has happened since I last wrote for About Town. The global COVID-19 crisis is unlike anything most of us have experienced. While I’m grateful that my friends and family are safe and healthy, I cannot help but worry every day. 

My job at the Crocker Theater in Aptos is on hold, as are my house-sitting jobs that were scheduled during friends’ now-cancelled vacations. My uncle’s gardening business is in flux and my dad, who’s had a sinus infection since the start of February has not been able to go to the doctor for treatment.

My sister in Canada works for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which is headquartered in Italy—the hardest hit country in the world. She is now also a teacher for my young niece, and her husband Marc is self-quarantined upstairs after returning from a contract job in Florida.

Still, we are lucky compared to those who have lost family and friends, their income, or are working inside hospitals and other high-risk zones. All we can do is keep washing our hands, staying at home as much as possible, avoiding crowds whenever we have to go out and, most importantly, keep positive.

If possible, start that project at home you’ve been putting off. Take an online class. Read a book. Stretch and go on a short walk, or just sit on your front porch and breathe in the fresh air. Do some online shopping—preferably to support your favorite small business.

Best wishes to you all.

A quick reminder that a number of local restaurants are remaining open and offering take out, delivery and curbside service. Many farmers markets are also staying open—Watsonville Certified Farmers Market opened again Friday—to provide people with fresh, healthy food in a clean, open-air environment. School lunches continue to be handed out at various locations across the Pajaro Valley.

The arts have taken a huge hit. Theaters, music venues, museums and more have closed their doors, canceling shows and letting go of staff. Performers are out of work.

I plan to write a story about how artists and venues are dealing with this crisis, and small ways the community can help, in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, instead of demanding refunds, think about donating that money you spent on a ticket to the venue. If these places don’t survive, we won’t have them to go back to once things are under control.

County animal shelters are shut to the public, and animals are being cooped up for much longer periods of time and not being adopted as frequently. Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is offering adoptions by appointment only. The SPCA is encouraging people to foster-adopt dogs and cats to give them a change of pace—and help people deal with the crisis, as well.

Amidst the terrible situation in Italy, with the large loss of life and mandatory quarantines, something incredible has occurred: the canals of Venice, usually completely over-touristed and polluted, are turning clear, according to locals. Wild swans and other creatures are once again navigating the waters between the iconic city.

One Italian man on Instagram wrote: “It is the only silver lining in this terrible tragedy.”

Quote of the day: “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” —Anne Frank

Members of the National Guard help at the Second Harvest Food Bank Monday in Watsonville. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Tarmo Hannula

A 52-year-old man died at Watsonville Community Hospital from coronavirus, officials said. He was reportedly a resident from outside the county.

I read an interesting article about how to deal with stress and COVD-19. Dr. Harriet Lerner, psychologist and author advised: “Go for the facts but don’t overdo it, because too much information can aggravate stress.” And: “Anxiety escalates and fantasies flourish in the absence of information.” 

Thus far in the U.S., about 80 million people have been ordered to stay at home, with shelter-in-place orders from health officials. I heard on the morning news today that 25,200 coronavirus tests have been performed in the U.S.

Unsettled weather will be with us on the Central Coast through Thursday, the National Weather Service of Monterey said. There will be mixed sun and clouds today, offering a brief break in rain activity that has dampened our region recently. It will be colder Tuesday through Thursday as a cold air mass moves south from the Gulf of Alaska.

A Santa Cruz man was arrested Saturday night on suspicion of homicide, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said. Around 8:50 p.m. deputies were dispatched to a home on the 800 block of Brommer Street in Live Oak for a report of a stabbing. As deputies arrived they detained the suspect, 35-year-old Leif Ames in front of a home. Deputies found the victim, 35-year-old Hubert Cross, inside the residence suffering from multiple stab wounds. Deputies performed live-saving measures, but the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

County western singer Kenny Rogers died of natural causes at 81 at his home in Sandy Hills, Georgia. He is widely known for a string of hits including his duet with Dolly Parton for the song “Islands in the Stream.”

Since I heard it directly from Dr. Gail Newel, Health Officer for Santa Cruz County that yes, it’s okay to get out and get exercise and that staying healthy is essential — my wife Sarah and I took a long walk Saturday morning. I’ll say it straight out: It was weird and, at times, eerie, with the shelter-in-place order. We walked across Soquel Avenue, through the Green Belt, otherwise known as Arana Gulch, through the Santa Cruz Harbor, to the sea and back. I was glad to see that everyone gave us a wide margin of distance when we passed by—social distancing.


Retired Watsonville Police Deputy Chief Terry Traub died Friday, I learned from friends in law enforcement. A former U.S. Marine, husband, father, son, brother and instructor, he joined WPD in 1997, the same year I came on at the Pajaronian. Terry helped me develop a friendly relationship with law enforcement. I saw this notice online from the Watsonville Police Officers’ Association: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of retired Deputy Chief Terry Traub #298. He passed away at his home this morning surrounded by his family. DC Traub began his law enforcement career with the Scotts Valley Police Department before joining WPD in 1997. He retired in 2017 with 29+ years of service to our profession.”

I need to pause to give thanks to folks that are helping to keep our community running. From grocery store workers, pharmacists, firefighters, police, nurses and other medical staff, FedEx, UPS and postal workers, METRO bus staff, restaurant workers, trash and recycling staff and on and on — thank you. Besides providing critical services and goods to us, they also serve as a catalyst for the ongoing mission to get through this COVID-19 challenge.

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