A woman helps customers with their vegetable choices at the Watsonville’s Happy Boys Farm stand at the Farmer's Market Wednesday in downtown Santa Cruz. — Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Congress is still hammering out details on a $2 trillion rescue package to help the country weather the coronavirus outbreak. Financial relief in the package is aimed at helping large corporations, the airline industry, hospitals and public transportation. In addition, around $367 billion is set aside to help small businesses keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.

Work is still underway within the package for individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less to get direct payments of $1,200 each. Married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400 and an additional $500 per each child. Those numbers are still being weighed out.

I walked through the Aptos Village today and had an invigorating chat with a man named Mike Resendes, who was purchasing several beverages to go at Cat & Cloud Coffee. The business has a clever setup. They had a table just inside their large sliding glass door where customers could line up outdoors and place and pick up their orders. Mike said he lived nearby and had two of his kids at home so he was happy to get a break with a coffee run.

Around the corner, at New Leaf Community Market shoppers came and went with ease. One customer thanked me warmly for being a reporter out in the field and for getting the news out to the public. She said she had no problem getting what she needed and that the staff was very helpful. I definitely detected a streak of worry over her face and that she was happy to make a connection with me and the other folks at the market. “We’ll get through this,” she said. “But we have to all work together.”

My wife Sarah and I also drove past several beaches today, from Twin Lakes State Beach at 7th Avenue to Moran Beach, Pleasure Point and Capitola. The beaches were largely vacant of people, save for a scant sprinkling of one or two folks here and there.

We also stopped by the Farmer’s Market in downtown Santa Cruz. There were about 40 stands open with new configurations scribed in chalk on the pavement to show people how to line up and practice social distancing. Several stands, including Watsonville’s Happy Boy Farm, had pinned up long strands of colorful tape to help show folks a safe way to stand in line. From what we saw it seemed to be working.

Former Watsonville Fire Assistant Chief Gene Friend died this morning. I’ll write about this important man soon.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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