CVIndependent

Thu05282020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

I’ve been asked several times why we don’t regularly post COVID-19 stats here in the Daily Digest, and the answer is simple: Statistics, when put in the proper context, are important and revealing. When they’re not, however … they can be confusing and misleading.

Take the total number of COVID-19 cases, for example. As of this writing, according to Riverside County, there have been 5,618 confirmed cases in the county. Since the start of April, that number has been increasing at a pretty steady pace—there have been a few peaks and valleys, sure, but overall, the pace has been pretty consistent for the last six weeks now.

So … what does this tell us? Well, it tells us SARS-CoV-2 is still a problem. But that’s about all it tells us.

One of the reasons the number has kept going up at this pace is that the county, and the medical organizations within it, have done a fine job of ramping up the amount of testing done in the county—and more tests means more positive results.

What about deaths? Alas, 242 people in Riverside County have died from the virus, according to the county. That’s 242 individuals who loved, were loved, and made some sort of a mark on our world. That number represents a lot of loss. But in terms of what the number of deaths tell us about the disease’s spread … deaths are a lagging indicator, reflecting what was happening two to six weeks ago … maybe more. Also, there’s increasing evidence a whole lot of deaths due to COVID-19 aren’t being reported properly anyway.

One of the best, most-contextual statistics out there—a number, alas, that is hard to find—is the R-naught number. It tells us how many people, on average, one person with COVID-19 is infecting in a certain place. If we keep that number below 1, progress is being made in stemming the virus’ spread. If it’s above 1, the virus’ spread is increasing. But, as the San Francisco Chronicle points out, even the R0 number has its limitations.

I’m not saying all of the stats being thrown at us by government officials or news sources should be disregarded or ignored. However, I am saying these numbers need to be looked at in the proper context—and they’re usually not.

Today’s news:

The Desert Sun talked to some local media types, including yours truly, about the struggles of the media in the Coachella Valley.

• From the Independent: Our beer writer points out a small positive that’s come about as a result of the stay-at-home order: It’s easier than ever for beer-lovers to get amazing craft beer from across the state.

• For the first-time ever, the House of Representatives has changed its rules to allow remote voting. Like almost everything else these days, the vote was along party lines.

A new survey of older men living with HIV, primarily in the Palm Springs area, by a UC Riverside researcher, has results that are both sad and frightening: Not only are many of these men anxious and depressed; it’s causing them to miss taking their medications.

Can we learn something from Georgia? The state started reopening three weeks ago now, and things so far … are going OK?

• Eisenhower Medical Center just released some new Coachella Valley-specific stats about COVID-19. The hospitalization numbers had not yet been updated as of this writing, but scroll down for other numbers, and you’ll see the valley is doing OK.

• Up in Anza, the new Cahuilla Casino Hotel plans on opening 12 days from today.

• Millions of Americans are still waiting on the unemployment benefits they need to survive, according to Bloomberg News.

Paycheck Protection Program loans could come back and bite a lot of businesses in the you-know-what, due to restrictions on spending, as well as reporting requirements. SFGate breaks it down.

• Good news! It’s been proven safe for people suffering from COVID-19 to receive plasma from people who have recovered—and early results on the practice’s effectiveness are encouraging.

• Bad news! The Navy is reporting that five sailors aboard the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier have tested positive for the virus for a second time. Nobody’s quite sure what that means yet.

• Sad and scary news: A couple of Ralph’s employees in the Los Angeles area have died from COVID-19.

• Frustrating news: More and more government agencies are using the pandemic as an excuse to disregard public-information laws.

• Baffling news: No matter your politics, you have to admit some of President Trump’s recent statements about COVID-19 testing have been simply bonkers.

A study out of Berlin has recommendations on how orchestras can situate its members and safely play again.

Is a vaccine made with tobacco really going to save us all? A vaccine made from the stuff is heading to human trials, because—repeat after me—nothing makes any sense anymore.

• Finally, Sylvia Goldsholl is one of my new heroes. At 108 years old, she’s lived through two pandemics—and just beat COVID-19.

That’s all for the week! Buy our fantastic Coachella Valley Coloring Book. If you can afford to do so, please consider becoming a supporter of the Independent, and help us continue doing great local journalism without the annoying article limits or paywalls you find on other websites. Wash your hands. Be kind. Wear a mask when going out. The Daily Digest will be back on Monday, at the very latest—and we will be updating CVIndependent.com with great stories all weekend.

Published in Daily Digest

Before I get to the news of the day—and, boy howdy, it’s been a big news day—I wanted to say something to those of you out there who, like me, suffer from depression, anxiety or other forms of what’s looped into the category of mental illness.

Hang in there. Please.

Speaking (or, well, typing) to everyone now: All the shit that’s going on now is trying and traumatic to all of us, not just people who battle mental illness. A whole lot of people lost jobs today, at least for the time being. We can’t go to many of our favorite places right now. And people who are 65 and older were advised to not go anywhere, period.

My particular forms of mental illness are, fortunately, fairly minor: I am not even currently on medication for my anxiety and depression. I’ve been off of them for several years now, as I’ve successfully found a way to use hobbies and interests to get myself into a calmer place. For example, I am a huge baseball fan—go Dodgers!—and I play softball (poorly, yes, but dammit, I play).

Of course, baseball and softball are both cancelled for the foreseeable future. Gulp.

So … yeah. I’ve been an anxious mess today. After watching the announcement from Gov. Newsom (more on that in a minute), I crawled into bed with the hubby and the cat to calm my ass down. I relaxed, did some breathing exercises, and even nodded off for 15 minutes before getting up to send out this Daily Digest. And after I am done with this, I am going to unplug from social media, order some food from a local restaurant that needs the business, pour myself a bourbon, and watch some distracting, fun TV with my family. This means some really fantastic stories that are in my inbox will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry about that. But taking care of myself today will mean I am in a much better place tomorrow—and trust me, we’re going to be posting some great stories at CVIndependent.com tomorrow.

The bad shit happening now means we’re doing what we can to get through COVID-19 as painlessly as we possibly can, as this graphics piece from The Washington Post brilliantly illustrates. (But, yeah, there’s still gonna be a lot of pain.) And to those of you with mental illness … do everything you can to take care of yourselves, like I am. We’re gonna get through this. Really.

Hang in there. Please.

Now … here’s today’s news. I am going to get the bad-but-important things out of the way first, and then list some good, uplifting or funny things, because, jeez, we all need good, uplifting and funny right now.

• If you haven’t already heard … earlier this afternoon, Gov. Gavin Newsom directed all Californians 65 and older to stay home. And he directed all bars to close down. And he—just as the city of Palm Springs did last night—directed all restaurants to cut occupancy in half in a social-distancing effort.

Most grocery stores are limiting their hours, so they can clean and restock. For example, Ralph’s is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Stater Bros. is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aldi ran out of stuff, basically, and closed early today. Yeesh.

Augustine Casino is temporarily closing its doors. 

OK. That’s enough depressing stuff for now. Let’s get on with the good, uplifting and funny:

• Good: You know how people are panicking and hoarding stuff right now? Well, our supply chain is in good shape, so we’re gonna be OK. Really.

• Also good: Spectrum is offering free internet and WiFi to households with kids or college students who need it.

• Uplifting: A shout-out to Jeannie Kays, the Palm Springs Library director, for posting this fantastic learn-from-home website Scholastic is offering, so kids who are stuck at home can keep on learnin’. www.scholastic.com/learnathome

• Funny (if also a little sad): As someone put on Twitter (paraphrasing): Who had “monkey gang wars” on your COVID-19 consequences bingo card?

• Funny, but “political,” so if you’re someone who is triggered by humor with a political bent, for the love of god, please don’t click, but if you actually do have a sense of humor, please do click: Randy Rainbow has finally weighed in on the pandemic.

Support local businesses, including your favorite independent local newspaper. Wash your freaking hands. Find happy things. Hang in there. Please.

Published in Daily Digest

Here’s some information on two important goings-on this month:

• Best of Coachella Valley voting is now under way!

First-round (nomination) voting in our annual readers’ poll is taking place through Friday, Sept. 13. Click on the link above, and you'll be sent to the open ballot—you fill in the blank in each category.

The top vote-getters will advance to the final round of voting, which will take place at CVIndependent.com from Monday, Sept. 30, through Monday, Oct. 28. The Best of Coachella Valley results will be announced at CVIndependent.com on Monday, Nov. 25, and in our special December print edition.

We run our readers’ poll a little bit differently than those other publications run theirs: For the Best of Coachella Valley, we ask readers to vote only once per round. The goal of other “Best Of” readers’ polls is for the publication to get as much web traffic as possible from readers visiting their websites over and over again to vote. Not us: We’d rather have readers vote just once per round, so our list of winners can be as fair as possible.

If you haven’t voted already … what are you waiting for? Get yourself to CVIndependent.com!

• Some bad news for local media on the circulation front: Kroger, the Cincinnati-based supermarket behemoth, has decided not to renew its agreement with DistribuTech to distribute free publications in its stores around the country.

What does this mean? Barring a change of heart, or Kroger making some sort of arrangement with another distribution company (both of which are unlikely), as of sometime in September, you’ll no longer be able to pick up the print version of the Independent—or any other free publication—at the Ralph’s stores in the Coachella Valley.

This move by Kroger is a very bad thing for both the media and the public. As our friends at the Memphis Flyer in Tennessee put it: “Kroger was providing a true community service with its free publications distribution … because ‘free’ information is often the only information available for a great many of our citizens. They may not be able to afford a subscription to the daily paper or the latest issue of Vanity Fair, but they can pick up (publications like the Independent) on their way out of the grocery store and get some insight into what’s happening in their community.”

As a result of all this, the Independent will lose five very good distribution spots; the good news is that leaves about 385 other locations where people can pick up the newspaper (including the four local Albertsons stores). If you’re one of the people who usually picks us up at Ralph’s, and you need help finding the paper elsewhere, you have two options: One, click on “Find a Copy” here at CVIndependent.com; or two, email me or call me at 760-904-4208, and I’ll personally let you know the closest distribution spots to you.

One more thing: Please feel free to express your displeasure about this decision to management at your local Ralph’s. Be polite—the decision came from corporate headquarters, not local management—but if enough people complain, perhaps those complaints will make their way back to Cincinnati and change some minds.

As always, thanks for reading—and if you have anything to say, don’t hesitate to email me at the address below. Also, be sure to pick up the September 2019 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week.

Published in Editor's Note