COVID-19 cases down 25%, and no masks required during Oscars

Plus: What to do with your COVID-19 vaccination card. A staffing crisis hits San Francisco restaurants. And a tiny town will cut water use by 74%.

I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you today’s California headlines.

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California reports 25% fewer COVID-19 cases as virus spread remains slow

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacts after being inoculated by Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services secretary, on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Newsom was vaccinated with the new one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom reacts after being inoculated by Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Newsom was vaccinated with the new one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson.

California reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 17,739 new cases. That’s down 24.8% from the previous week’s toll of 23,598 new cases.

California ranked 48th among the states where coronavirus

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One year of COVID-19: Timeline of L.A. dining culture

Beginning March 14, restaurants in Los Angeles County opened their dining rooms (at partial capacity) after being barred from serving indoors for most of the past 12 months. The reopening came one day shy of the anniversary date — March 15, 2020 — when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered restaurants to discontinue dine-in service to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What happened in between those X-marks on the calendar is … a lot. It’s hard for our minds to hold everything that’s happened in the last year. It’s even harder to fathom the layers of tribulation that restaurant owners and their staffs have been through, starting with the painful time-loop pattern of shutdowns, punctuated by whiplash decisions from various government agencies that left heads spinning.

As it became clear that the pandemic could stretch out indefinitely and that vaccines wouldn’t become available before the year’s end,

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Restaurants are big beneficiaries of COVID-19 relief bill

NEW YORK (AP) — Restaurants devastated by the coronavirus outbreak are getting a lifeline from the pandemic relief package that’s awaiting final approval in the House.

The bill passed by the Senate on Saturday a dds money to the Paycheck Protection Program and provides indirect help to small businesses in general through stimulus payments and unemployment benefits. But restaurants got the biggest share of direct help: $28.6 billion in grants for restaurants whose revenue fell in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

The bill calls for grants equal to the amount of restaurants’ revenue losses, up to a maximum of $10 million per company and $5 million per location. Eligible companies cannot own more than 20 locations, and they can’t be publicly traded. The bill sets aside $5 billion for the smallest restaurants, those whose annual revenue is $500,000 or less.

Industry groups welcomed the grants. The National Restaurant

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New Report Outlines Impact of COVID-19 on NYC’s Street Food Vendors

Ahead of a City Council vote tomorrow to significantly add to the number of street vendor permits in the city, a new report outlines the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on New York City’s street vending community, a majority of whom are immigrants, and people of color.

The report focuses on two separate periods during the course of the pandemic last year: April 2020, when cases and deaths were peaking in the city and businesses and vendors faced the most amount of restrictions; and in June 2020, when restrictions had been eased significantly.

Despite street vendors being categorized as essential workers — which allowed them to keep their businesses open during the initial shutdown — 98 percent of the 63 street vendors surveyed, many of whom are food vendors, had no earnings in the month of April.

A key cause of that dip in business was due to most

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