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Hello everybody,

It’s a busy day on the pandemic beat statewide and nationally. Here are your COVID PM storylines for Wednesday, May 5 …

On the recovery front

A hospital gurney streaks by, pushed by men wearing masks.

In dramatic shift, California COVID-19 hospitalizations are lowest since pandemic’s start: In another dramatic sign of how rapidly California is recovering from COVID-19, the state recorded its lowest hospitalization rate since the first few weeks of the pandemic, according to data reviewed by the LA Times. Over the last three months, COVID-19 has receded rapidly across the region, allowing a massive reopening of the economy and the hope for a return to some kind of normal by the summer. More from the Times here.

Over half of California public school students remain in distance learning: Although 87% of California’s traditional public schools have reopened for some form of in-person instruction, fewer than half of students have returned either full time or part time in a hybrid model. A total of 55% of all public school students, including those in charter schools, were at home, in distance learning, as of April 30, according to an EdSource analysis of new data released by the state. More on that here.

Also from EdSource: Hundreds of thousands of California students won’t take statewide standardized tests this spring

Covid shot in the arm not enough to keep pharmacies in business: The pandemic sank many businesses in 2020, particularly those relying on in-person sales to stay afloat. For pharmacies — especially independent pharmacies — the pandemic lockdowns exacerbated longstanding economic pressures. More from Kaiser Health News here.

On the return to travel front

Credit: Via Pixabay

Ruckus in the skies: What happens when airline passengers refuse to wear masks: Incidents of passengers being unruly — ignoring crew members’ instructions, fighting and refusing to wear masks — have been surging, according to the FAA, even while the number of Americans flying on commercial planes remains about 40% below pre-pandemic levels. The rise comes despite a new federal law that makes wearing a mask on commercial flights mandatory, punishable by a fine of $250 for the first offense and up to $1,500 for repeat offenses. More here from the LA Times.

Feds fine unruly and maskless airplane passengers as violent incidents increase (CNN)
Test cruises with volunteer passengers are on the horizon as CDC issues new guidance (USA Today)

On the legislative front

Credit: Via Pixabay

A judge vacated the CDC eviction moratorium. What you need to know: A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority when it issued a nationwide eviction moratorium. The moratorium, implemented under the Trump administration and extended to June 30 under President Biden, aims to protect the millions of Americans unable to pay rent amid the economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. More from the LA Times here.

Thanks to bill passage, laid-off hospitality workers celebrate the right to return to work: Hundreds of thousands of California workers are hoping they will benefit from the passage of a hospitality rehiring bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. This is a great relief, employees say, for them to continue contributing to the state’s economic recovery. SB 93 guarantees the right to return to work for approximately 700,000 workers such as housekeepers, cooks, waiters, and bartenders, especially as the state targets June 15 for a full reopening. More from Cal Matters here.

More from here & elsewhere

Moderna says booster shots rev up immune response to coronavirus variants (CNN)
Biden administration supports waiving patent protections for Covid vaccines to raise global production (NBC News)
Moderna says its Covid vaccine booster works well against variants (NBC News)
Most employers plan to incentivize workers to get the vaccine — but some will require it (NBC News)
Herd immunity in the U.S.? San Francisco offers reasons for optimism (NBC News)

That’s it for tonight. See you tomorrow!

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor

Follow Mark Conley on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Mark joins Lookout after 14 years at the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, where he served as Deputy Sports Editor on a staff that covered three...