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I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, where we are getting some much-needed rain, snow — and graupel. Here are some of the latest California headlines on this wet Monday.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Back to restaurants and haircuts!
California health officials lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday, the result of declining numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care unit patients since the beginning of the month.
The change will allow businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations, though local officials could choose to continue stricter rules. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. In addition, the state will return to its four-tiered, color-coded system of county-by-county restrictions, state health officials announced. Under the previous stay-at-home orders, the state’s 58 counties were divided into five regions.
As of Monday, all but four of the state’s 58 counties were in the most restrictive purple tier, which indicates there’s a “widespread” risk of transmission. Three counties are in the red tier, indicating a “substantial” risk of spread. Sierra County, north of Sacramento, was in the orange or “moderate” tier. No county is in the least restrictive yellow tier.
- Grocery: open at 50% capacity
- Restaurants: open for outdoor dining and take-out only
- Retail stores, malls and libraries: open at 25% capacity
- Hair salons and barber shops: open
- Wineries: outdoors with modifications
- Bars: closed if no meal provided; otherwise, subject to restaurant rules
- Personal services, including body waxing, nail salons, and piercing and tattoo shops: open with modifications
- Churches, mosques and other places of worship: outdoor services only
- Gyms and fitness centers: outdoors only
- Hotels and lodging: open with modifications
Republicans accused Newsom of relaxing the rules in response to political pressure and the threat of a recall. “This Governor’s decisions have never been based on science,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson tweeted. “Him re-opening our state is not an attempt to help working Californians, but rather an attempt to counter the Recall Movement. It’s sad and pathetic.”
In response to criticism that his decision could be related to recall efforts, Newsom said such claims were “complete, utter nonsense.”
Meanwhile, up north: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that even before Monday’s reopening announcement, “health officials had been urging people to double down on safety protocols because of the emergence of a new coronavirus variant in the Bay Area, which may be more infectious.” Several major outbreaks in the region have been linked to the Bay Area variant.
But as of Monday, here’s what’s happening up north: Outdoor dining may resume in much of the Bay Area, effective Monday, with San Francisco restaurants expected to follow later in the week. Restaurants in Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties can restart immediately, the counties announced Monday.
Some salons in the Bay Area are also planning to reopen this week, while others are waiting for more information from city officials.
California reports 35% fewer COVID-19 cases compared to previous week
The Golden State reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 176,797 new cases. That’s down 35.4% from the previous week’s toll of 273,869 new cases.
California ranked No. 7 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
Within the state, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-capita basis were in Riverside, Tehama and Colusa counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Los Angeles County, with 58,403 cases; Riverside County, with 19,120 cases; and San Diego County, with 15,408. Weekly case counts rose in six counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week’s pace were in Tehama, Lassen and Colusa counties.
A total of 3,168,528 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 37,121 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 25,127,000 people have tested positive and 419,214 people have died.
Is it your turn for the vaccine?
The State of California has launched a statewide website to help residents determine their eligibility to receive the vaccine and schedule appointments.
Still a work in progress, MyTurn (myturn.ca.gov) is aimed mostly at health care workers and people 65 and older. The site is expected to improve in the coming weeks.
Residents who do not have an email address or a mobile phone are encouraged to call the state’s COVID hotline at (833) 422-4255.
LAUSD superintendent says teachers need vaccine before schools can reopen
Austin Beutner, Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, says before L.A. campuses for students in K-12 can be reopened, teachers and other staff will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
There is currently no firm date for inoculating teachers. “Vaccinations are a critical piece of the puzzle, and we’re all frustrated at the pace of the rollout despite everyone’s best efforts,” Beutner said in remarks broadcast Monday, reported by the Los Angeles Times.
While vaccine priority is currently focused on healthcare workers and people 65 and older, Long Beach, which has its own health department, is expected to begin inoculating teachers this week. Other smaller school districts in the state have already begun the process.
LAUSD’s current school year ends June 10. The spring semester is continuing online.
California proposal would extend eviction protections through June
In the works are plans to extend eviction protections for California residents through the end of June while using federal money to pay off up to 80% of most tenants’ unpaid rent, according to an agreement announced Monday between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top two legislative leaders.
The proposal, if approved by the state Legislature, will extend a state law scheduled to expire next Monday that prevents landlords from evicting tenants who could not pay their rent between March and August as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new proposal would extend the protections until June 30. The state would pay landlords up to 80% of their unpaid rent — but only if they agree to forgive the remaining 20% and pledge not to evict tenants. If they decline, the state would pay them 25% of their tenants’ unpaid rent. That would ensure those tenants qualify for the state’s eviction protections and could not be kicked out of their homes until after June 30.
The agreement is between Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins — all Democrats. The state Legislature is scheduled to vote on the bill on Thursday.
That’s all for now. In California will be back tomorrow with more headlines.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected].