CVIndependent

Wed06032020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to play the exciting game that is most definitely NOT sweeping the nation: Six Degrees of Separation: Whackadoo Conspiracy Theory Edition!

However, Kevin Bacon was not available, so we will be seeing how many degrees of separation you—YES YOU!!!—are from the newest conspiracy star in all the pandemic-stricken land!

We’ll start off with Judy Mikovits, Ph.D. She’s the star of that new documentary you’ve likely seen some of your friends posting on social media, even though they really should know better. In an effort to be fair and open-minded, I actually tracked it down and watched it today. My Impression: The documentary is 1) well-crafted and slick, 2) undeniably interesting and 3) completely packed with easily refutable and deeply-harmful-if-believed nonsense! I’ll never get that almost-half-hour of my life back! Is it time for a cocktail yet?

First degree of separation: Judy Mikovits, before she became a celebrity on the anti-vaccination circuit, worked at the Whittemore Peterson Institute, a nonprofit based in Reno, Nev., that does research into myalgic encephalomyelitis (aka chronic fatigue syndrome) and other neuroimmune diseases. I won’t go into all the details of Mikovits’ work there, other than to say that 1) one of the studies she published while there wound up being so shoddy that the digest which published it had to later retract it, and 2) she was arrested and accused of stealing materials from the lab after she was fired by the institute. What fun! Anyhow, one the founders of the Whittemore Peterson Institute is Harvey Whittemore, a Reno attorney who was once one of the most powerful lobbyists in the state of Nevada. (Then he was convicted of three felonies and sent to prison for a couple of years for violating campaign-contribution laws. Oops!)

Second degree of separation: Harvey Whittemore has five kids, one of whom is DJ Whittemore, a perfectly nice guy who is a collegiate baseball coach. He graduated from Earl Wooster High School in 1993.

Third degree of separation: Jimmy Boegle, the editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent, and the humble scribe of this Daily Digest, is also a member of the Earl Wooster High School class of 1993. What a small and sometimes horrifying world!

Fourth degree of separation: YOU are reading this Daily Digest, written by Jimmy Boegle.

Congratulations! You are a mere four degrees of separation from Judy Mikovits! I am so very sorry about that!

Today’s links:

• The big state news of the day: Gov. Newsom offered more information on which businesses can begin to reopen as early tomorrow. He was actually rather light on the specifics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

• The other big state news: As expected, the state is facing a massive budget deficit—far bigger than anything the state faced during the great recession. That means some deep cuts are coming.

• The big national news: The Trump administration has decided not to follow the reopening guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because, you know who needs science and knowledge and experts and stuff?

• The other big national news: The Justice Department is dropping the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. This line, from The New York Times, earns the Understatement of the Day Award: “The decision for the government to throw out a case after a defendant had already pleaded guilty was … highly unusual.

• I, per usual, took part in the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast today. Hear what the knowledgeable Dr. Laura Rush has to say about the coronavirus in the Coachella Valley.

One of the president’s personal valets has tested positive for the virus. The president says he has tested negative, however, and will continue to get tested daily.

More than 12,000 Catholic churches (out of 17,000) in the U.S. received federal Paycheck Protection Plan loans that were supposedly meant for small businesses. Wait, what?!

• Also from the “Wait, what?!” files: Frontier Airlines is making people pay extra to be socially distanced.

• The California Restaurant Association has sent to Gov. Newsom a proposed plan on how to reopen the state’s restaurants. Get more details, via The Associated Press, here.

A group of hair salons is getting ready to sue Gov. Newsom over the fact that they have not been allowed to reopen yet. (Search for hair salon after clicking the link.)

• Finally, some good news: While nothing is sure yet, there’s increasing evidence that almost all people who recover from COVID-19 indeed have antibodies—and that MIGHT mean they have at least temporary immunity.

• Oh, and there’s increasing evidence blood thinners may help some people who get critically sick from COVID-19.

• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 96: Some Southern California churches are starting to have in-person services, the law (and possible spread of the virus) be damned.

Coronavirus survivors will be disqualified from joining the military. Yes, really.

The DMV is opening 25 offices—including the one in Palm Desert—for in-person service tomorrow. However, you’ll need an appointment.

• Could lasers soon be used to test for COVID-19—and other diseases, too? The Conversation breaks down how that is a possibility.

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Don’t spread easily disproven conspiracy theories. Buy our amazing Coloring Book. Chip in a few bucks, if you can afford to do so, to help us continue doing what we’re doing. Back tomorrow!

It’s often said that you can’t prove a negative. However, that’s not accurate: Mathematically, you generally can.

It is accurate, however that you can’t disprove a conspiracy theory to a conspiracy theorist. This is something I have learned, painfully, over the years during many squabbles with them.

For example, there was the guy who wanted me, while I was the editor of the Tucson Weekly, to expose how Sept. 11 was an inside job. The key piece of evidence, he said, was the fact that the World Trade Center 7 building collapsed, despite not being directly hit by a plane. So I sent him some articles, including one from Popular Mechanics, thoroughly explaining why WTC 7 collapsed.

“Well, that stuff is obviously faked,” he said.

Then there are the chemtrails people—folks who insist that the government, or maybe it’s China, who knows, but SOMEBODY is spraying us with stuff from high-flying planes to … uh, control our minds, or change the weather, or sterilize people, or something.

How do they know? You can see the trails these planes leave in the sky, man!

What other evidence do they have? None.

Of course, now the conspiracy theories are coming out around COVID-19. The most recent one comes compliments of an anti-vaxer who is claiming that all of this illness has to do with a bad flu vaccine from several years ago. Really.

So … yeah.

I would try to explain here how that conclusion is, well … unlikely. For starters, a whole lot of people with better credentials say that that’s not what caused COVID-19. But, I won’t bother.

Why? Because if you believe in a conspiracy theory, there’s nothing I can say or do to convince you otherwise.

Today’s links:

• Yesterday’s bonkers Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting—at which supes were deciding to, and I am paraphrasing here, emphasize the “interests” of the business community over the advice of the county health officer—ended with a whole lot of nothing: The board voted 5-0 to decide things at an emergency Friday meeting instead.

• Breaking news: The county has further loosened the rules on pools at apartment complexes and in HOA-managed areas. Get the details here.

• So the president now says he won’t disband his coronavirus task force around the end of the month. Why did he change his mind? According to The New York Times, Trump said: “I thought we could wind it down sooner. But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday, when I started talking about winding it down. I get calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going. It’s done such a good job.’” So, uh, there ya go.

• Meanwhile, in Arizona—a state that, I will remind you, shares a border with us—the governor’s office is shutting up a team of professors at Arizona State and the University of Arizona that had been doing COVID-19 modeling. Turns out their models said reopening now—which the state is doing—was a bad idea. This move by Gov. Doug Ducey is, in a word, despicable.

Why have meat-processing facilities been such hotbeds for the spread of the coronavirus? The Conversation explains.

• OH, COME ON. REALLY?! This CNBC piece says that the damn virus will lead to millions of new tuberculosis cases, and will “set back global efforts to fight TB by at least five years, and possibly up to eight years.”

Why do some people simply refuse to wear masks? CNN looks at the psychology behind this.

• Another California court has refused to block the state from offering assistance to undocumented residents.

A lot of people think they already had COVID-19, back before we really knew it was a thing. While we are learning that the virus may have been in this country way earlier than previously known … sorry, but you probably didn’t have it.

• If you are one of the people who hasn’t yet received your stimulus money yet, we are sorry to tell you that a lot of dead people have received theirs.

Can llamas lead us to a breakthrough that could help solve the pandemic? Because nothing makes sense anymore, why, yes, they might.

• Famous and mysterious street artist Banksy has done a series paying tribute to health workers in Britain.

If you’re a fan of David Cross and Bob Odenkirk’s Mr. Show, you have something to look forward to now.

• Yeah, this period of quarantine has been awful. But on the bright side, it brought the world the first ever toilet flush to take place during U.S. Supreme Court arguments. So we have that, at least.

• Finally, here’s a look at a birthday party for a 20-year-old otter named Yaku.

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands. Be safe. Buy our Coloring Book, because it’s amazing. If you can spare a few bucks, consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent, so we can keep doing quality local journalism. We’ll be back tomorrow.

Today was one of those days where I sat at my desk all day, and was busy all day … and then all of a sudden, it was the early evening, and my to-do list was just as long as it had been first thing this morning.

I was going to tell you my harrowing and baffling story of trying to navigate the federal small-business loan process, but that’ll have to wait until later this week. In the meantime, strap yourselves in for news from this completely not normal Cinco de Mayo:

• The county supervisors’ meeting today—at which supervisors are considering rescinding county health orders that go further than the state’s orders—has been something of a debacle. As of this writing, it’s still going on

• As reported in this space yesterday: The county is opening two new testing sites in the valley—one in Mecca, and one in DHS. KESQ has the details.

• Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Trump administration is preparing to close up shop on the coronavirus task force. However, it will be replaced with “something in a different form,” says The New York Times. Well, OK then!

• To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Dr. Rick Bright—the just-fired head of the federal office charged with developing a COVID-19 virus—has filed a whistleblower complaint, claiming the Trump administration ignored his warnings about the virus.

• Because we simply are NOT allowed to have nice things anymore, a preliminary study shows that COVID-19 mutated fairly quickly into a more-contagious version of itself

• Yet more evidence that we really don’t know much of anything about this virus yet: Yesterday, we mentioned encouraging news about a Japanese drug called favipiravir. Well, it turns out that drug can cause some pretty bad birth defects

• After that depressing news, here’s an NBC News report on a joint project by New York University and Pfizer that’s attempting to have a vaccine ready by the end of the summer.

• The governor said today the Northern California counties that violated state orders by reopening already have made a “big mistake.” However, he did not say whether the state would take any action.

• From The Conversation: A person’s genetics may determine how badly a person is affected by the coronavirus. Read more about the research into the matter here.

• NPR breaks down the aforementioned complete debacle that is the government’s small-business loan program.

• Here’s not a link to a story, but a site with all sorts of great stories: The Appeal is a fantastic news source for criminal-justice issues, and it’s been doing fantastic coverage of the complete mess the coronavirus has caused in our nation’s prisons. Check it out for yourself.

Speaking of complete messes, there’s our food-supply chain. The Los Angeles Times does a fine job of explaining what’s gone wrong—and what changes some businesses have made to keep things running.

• There is a special place in hell for the decision-makers at this Dallas-based restaurant company, because they’re telling employees they can’t wear masks or other personal protective equipment while they work. And then there’s this tidbit, from The Dallas Morning News: “The employees said those who chose not to work were told they would not be scheduled for further shifts. Not being terminated, however, would preclude employees from being able to file an unemployment claim.

• STAT (which, if you’ve never heard of it, is owned by the same company as the Boston Globe) looks at three ways this whole virus thing could go. None of them are particularly great.

Do your glasses keep fogging up whilst wearing a mask? Two doctors from England, via CNN, explain how to prevent that.

• From the Independent: Running out of things to watch? Our TV columnist recommends these 13 dumb TV comedy series for these dumb times in which we live.

• This man is my new personal hero: A North Carolina high school principal made sure all 220 of his graduating seniors got a personal parade.

• Meanwhile, in Utah, 5-year-olds are getting stopped on the freeway trying to get to California so they can buy Lamborghinis. No, I have not yet had any margaritas yet.

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Give to a local charity for two for Giving Tuesday Now if you can—perhaps the Desert AIDS Project, or the LGBT Community Center’s Food Bank, or Shelter From the Storm. We will be back tomorrow.

This has been one hell of a news day—one of the busiest news days since this whole mess started, I’d say—so let’s get right to it:

• Big news item No. 1: The state’s reopening process is slated to begin on Friday, with, for starters, retail stores allowed to open for pickup. Here are the details on Gov. Newsom’s announcement today, from our partners at CalMatters.

• Big news item No. 2: According to The New York Times, a Trump administration projection anticipates deaths from COVID-19 will skyrocket over the next month. Meanwhile, states—many of which are currently seeing a rise in cases—are continuing the reopening process. Meanwhile, nothing makes sense anymore, and I need a cocktail.

• Big news item No. 3: Arizona, aka our neighbors to the east, are pushing the accelerator on the reopening process, with salons able to open on Friday, and restaurants able to open for dine-in service a week from today.

• Big news item No. 4: The continuing debate over Riverside County supervisors’ possible move tomorrow to cancel the orders of its own health officer, in favor of aligning with the weaker state orders. Earlier today, local supervisor V. Manuel Perez released a Facebook video in which he explained his thinking. I listened to all 37-plus minutes of it, and as far as I can tell, he is leaning toward rescinding some of Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s orders (on school closures, for example), and keeping at least parts of others (on face coverings and short-term rentals). He also announced the county would be opening two new testing sites in our valley—in Mecca and Desert Hot Springs—and touched on plans for the county to mobilize 200 contact-tracers. After listening to the whole thing, I now need another cocktail.

• This just in: The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership just released a report on the economic damage being wrought locally by the pandemic. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but, well, the news is pretty terrible. Read the report yourself here.

• From the Independent: Kevin Fitzgerald recently spoke to Allen Monroe, the CEO of The Living Desert, about where the Palm Desert zoo stands, and what the future holds. Interesting takeaway: The Living Desert had made emergency plans regarding earthquakes and fires—and that helped the zoo handle the pandemic, in some ways.

• There was a world summit today focusing on the effort to come up with a coronavirus vaccine. The U.S. didn’t take part.

• Testing on the rise: The Desert AIDS Project is now offering COVID-19 testing to anyone who wants it, even people who are asymptomatic. However, you need an appointment. Get the details here.

• OK, after all of that stuff, here, look! John Krasinski’s Some Good News is back with a new, graduation-themed episode.

• Feeling better? Good! Unfortunately, we now have to tell you that, according to this Washington Post headline: “The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis.”

• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 58: A security guard was shot and killed after telling a Family Dollar customer in Flint, Mich., to put on a face mask.

• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 59: Another restaurant—this one in Orange County—was packed after opening its doors this weekend.

• In other Orange County-related news, the governor decided to stop picking on them, and is allowing the beaches there to reopen.

• If you miss live music, and you’re not worried about the virus, Missouri is the place for you: Concerts can be held there now, as long as attendees are socially distanced.

Our friends at the Create Center for the Arts were burglarized recently. Sigh. However, they’re keeping up their efforts to make personal protective equipment for local medical professionals by using 3-D printers

• Do you find yourself at times needing to take a break from all the pandemic news? You’re most certainly not alone.

• According to The Conversation, if the world gets an effective vaccine, and vaccine-deniers refuse to take it, that could be very, very bad for all of us.

Donald Trump had an uncle who was legitimately a brilliant scientist. A friend of the late John G. Trump said he’d be horrified by his nephew’s antics.

More promising news on the drug front, this time regarding a flu drug called favipiravir, made by Japanese company Fujifilm.

• If you’re starting to look like a mountain man, or perhaps a Muppet (or, in my case, a Muppet mountain man), consider these self-care tips from Esquire.

That’s more than enough. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Be kind. Buy your coloring book. Please consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent if you can afford to do so, so we can continue doing quality local journalism. We’ll be back tomorrow.

“As the (COVID-19) pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories. The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.”

— UN Secretary-General António Guterres

The United Nations honors World Press Freedom Day every May 3—and on this World Press Freedom Day, many media organizations find themselves in serious trouble, because of the economic chaos brought to us by the pandemic. 

I am going to turn things over to A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, by sharing part of a note he sent to me and a whole bunch of other news publishers on Friday:

“I wanted to reach out to you to say how much we appreciate the important, difficult work you’re doing right now. My colleagues and I stand with you in your commitment to providing information that is critical to the safety, security, and knowledge of our communities. As the coronavirus pandemic presents unprecedented reporting challenges and growing financial pressures, it’s also underscored the value of great journalism.

“We want to share the news … that The New York Times will launch a campaign encouraging readers find a local news organization they trust, and to support it through a subscription or donation.

“Like many of my colleagues at The Times, I spent years working in local news. We know firsthand the essential role original, quality news organizations play in communities across the nation. And we’ve been distressed to watch as the pressure on local news continues to rise through the pandemic, leading to an estimated 36,000 journalists being laid off or furloughed in a matter of months. We hope we can help by raising awareness of the importance of supporting local news organizations.”

You can find the database The New York Times put together of trusted local journalism sources here. I am proud to say that the Independent is one of three Coachella Valley news sources listed.

Over the last seven weeks—since the figurative, uh, “stuff” started hitting the fan—we’ve received a heartening amount of reader support. However, if you have not yet become a Supporter of the Independent, and you are able, I ask you to consider doing so now. We’ve lost 80-plus percent of our advertising revenue as a result of the pandemic, and we need your help to continue doing what we do—quality, Coachella Valley-focused journalism, which we make available for free to everyone, both in pixels and print. Learn how to become a Supporter here.

To all of you who have become Supporters of the Independent … thank you. Because of your support, we have so far been able to avoid cutting staff or content. However, if you are able, I have one more thing to ask of you: Please consider going to The New York Times database, and finding another journalism organization to support as well—like a hometown news source, for example.

As always, thanks to all of you for reading. Now, here are today’s links:

• The big local news: Why in the world does the business community think it understands the virus better than the county health officer—and why are county supervisors, including local rep V. Manuel Perez, considering siding with the business community over that local health officer? This will all come to a head when county supes vote on Tuesday to revoke Dr. Cameron Kaiser’s health orders if they go beyond the state’s orders.

• The New York Times looks at the effort by scientists to answer a key question about COVID-19: “Why Does the Virus Wallop Some Places and Spare Others?

Why aren’t California pharmacies being enlisted in the effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing—like pharmacies are in other states? The San Francisco Chronicle attempts to answer this query.

When the virus hits indigenous tribes, things could get very, very bad. The Guardian looks at an effort being made by a lot of big names to get Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to pay attention to this fact.

A Hong Kong restaurant group has released its “playbook” on how to reopen. Here are the details.

• USA Today points out the obvious, albeit in an interesting way: We’re all dying to travel (safely) right now.

• This somewhat overwritten column by Frank Bruni from The New York Times focuses on Laurie Garrett, a journalist who predicted that the pandemic would happen. You don’t want to know what she thinks will come next.

• Well, this is one hell of a teaser, from the folks at the PBS NewsHour: “More and more, people don't care about expert views. That’s according to Tom Nichols, author of ‘The Death of Expertise,’ who says Americans have become insufferable know-it-alls, locked in constant conflict and debate with others over topics they actually know almost nothing about. Nichols shares his humble opinion on how we got here.” What fun!

• Good news: Gilead Sciences—which sure has been doing a lot of lobbying as of late——is releasing 1.5 million vials of remdesivir, for free, for emergency use this week. Perhaps not-so-good news: The federal government will decide where the vials go.

• The Los Angeles Times looks at drugs not named remdesivir that may help battle this damned virus.

• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 47: Business is booming at a diner in El Dorado, Calif., after the owner decided to violate state law by opening her doors for dine-in customers, because, you know, she has bills to pay.

• The Wheels Are Coming Off, Chapter 48: The mayor of a city in Oklahoma rescinded an order to wear masks because some people got a little pissy.

• Trevor Noah is good people: He’s paying furloughed members of The Daily Show staff out of his own pocket.

• If you haven’t yet heard of the arrival in the U.S. of ASIAN MURDER HORNETS, well, sit down, because we have some bad news.

• Finally, because why not, comes this headline from Esquire: “Behind the Scenes of a Nude Photography Project in Quarantine.”

That’s all we have for today. Wash your hands. Be safe. Be kind. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

Welcome to May 2020—which should be one of the most fascinating months in American history.

April was horrible, in terms of deaths and economic calamity—but for the most part, the country hunkered down and sheltered in place. But now that May is here, the figurative wheels may be starting to come off.

Many are states starting to reopen—despite an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Some local governments in California are taking steps to reopen, in defiance of the state orderProtests seem to be getting angrier—including those close to home in Orange County, over Gov. Newsom’s surprising decision to close the beaches there, and only there, this weekend. 

Here in the Coachella Valley, some are getting restless, too. The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce yesterday asked county supervisor V. Manuel Perez to do what he can to “start opening back up the Coachella Valley economy.” Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom said the first steps toward reopening California are days, not weeks, away … but has not been specific on what that means, exactly.

How is this all going to play out? I have no idea. All I know is that the next 30 days are going to be a wild ride—and that the Independent will be here to help make sense of it.

Wash your hands. Be kind. Be safe. And hold on tight, folks.

Today’s links:

• The big local news of the day: College of the Desert announced today that all summer AND fall classes will move online. More or less, this means the campus will be closed for the remainder of 2020.

• As expected, the government has announced that remdesivir may be used as an emergency treatment for COVID-19.

• Related: This opinion piece from The Washington Post does a good job of putting Dr. Anthony Fauci’s remarks on Wednesday regarding remdesivir in the proper context: They gave us real hope.

• Also related: The House wants Dr. Fauci to testify next week. The White House isn’t going to let him.

• From our partners at CalMatters, via the Independent: Gov. Newsom’s program that would pay restaurants to make meals for seniors in need has a lot of problemsand as a result, not a single meal has been delivered yet.

• Here’s a holy-cow-that’s-awful stat: More than 4,000 workers at 115 meatpacking plants in the country have tested positive for the virus. More than 900 of those are at a single Tyson plant in Indiana.

• Related: It turns out the much-touted executive order by the president for meat plants to reopen isn’t going to do much of anything.

• Not only is the race on to develop a new vaccine; some scientists are studying whether old vaccines, for polio and tuberculosis, can help fight the coronavirus. How’s that possible? It involves something called “innate immunity.”

• The Palm Springs Cultural Center this week has added two films to its watch-at-home lineup. Get the details on Crescendo and Saint Frances here.

• The Atlantic takes a mostly depressing look at how the pandemic is going to change retail business in the country.

• The U.S. Bartenders’ Guild fund has only dispersed $1.5 million of the $7 million it has in its emergency aid fund—with up to 90 percent of applicants being rejected. The San Francisco Chronicle gets some answers on why that is.

• Omar Tate, the proprietor of a popup restaurant experience called Honeysuckle, wrote a powerful essay for Esquire; this one line sums things up masterfully: “When America gets a cold, Black America gets pneumonia.”

• The headline on this piece from a HuffPost political reporter gets straight to the point: “Tribes Were Supposed to Get $8 Billion In COVID-19 Aid. They’ve Gotten $0.”

Former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has a message for the people protesting stay-at-home orders: You’re being selfish, and you’re disrespecting America’s veterans.

• Related: Elon Musk is getting some Silicon Valley execs on the “reopen now!” bandwagon—while others are decidedly in disagreement.

• The consistently excellent Texas Tribune breaks down the battle in that state over unemployment benefits—and as that state reopens (prematurely, perhaps), many fearful people are being forced to go back to work.

If you’re one of the people who somehow believes COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, either you’re ignorant, or you don’t know how numbers work.

• When it’s time for Las Vegas to reopen … it’s not going to reopen all at once, as the MGM Resorts acting CEO pointed out during a call yesterday.

• Some people are starting to get an email from the Census Bureau asking questions about how they’re faring during the pandemic. Here’s a story from NPR, from a week or two back, on why that’s happening.

That’s enough for today. Be safe. Wash your hands. Check in on a loved one and see how they’re doing. Get details on our fantastic coloring book here, and becoming a Supporter of the Independent here. Barring anything major, we’ll be off tomorrow, but back on Sunday, in honor of World Press Freedom Day.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a varied and always-interesting journalism career over the last 25 years—but it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’ve covered some stories that were downright brutal in terms of their emotional impact.

When I worked for The Associated Press in the San Francisco bureau, I was one of the first handful of people to know that John Denver had perished after his small, experimental plane went down in Monterey Bay on Oct. 12, 1997. When I was a reporter for the Daily Sparks Tribune, I covered the first trial of Siaosi Vanisi, who sits on death row in Nevada after randomly ambushing and murdering University of Nevada, Reno, police officer George Sullivan with a hatchet, on Jan. 13, 1998.

And then there was Jan. 8, 2011, when a mentally ill 22-year-old opened fire outside of a Safeway in Tucson, killing six people and injuring 13—including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who somehow survived despite being shot in the head at point-blank range. I was the editor of the Tucson Weekly at the time.

Now, there’s this. The pandemic hasn’t been as dramatic or as sudden as any of the horrible events I’ve covered before—but in terms of the breadth of the death and devastation, it’s been far worse.

It’s not easy to cover these things … actually, that’s an understatement: It’s downright wrenching to cover these things. But it’s rewarding—because it means we, as journalists, are fulfilling our duty to our readers.

This brings me to the coverage the Independent has done since the reality of the pandemic set in—much of which is compiled into our May print edition, which hit the lonely streets this week. From Anita Rufus’ piece on the importance of advance directives/living wills, to Kevin Fitzgerald’s heartbreaking pieces on the struggles of our local senior centers and domestic-violence agencies, to Matt King’s looks at how various schools and teachers have adjusted to this time, to Valerie-Jean Hume’s piece on Alcoholic Anonymous’ transition from in-person to Zoom meetings, to Brett Newton’s introduction to homebrewing beer … I could go on and on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say I’ve never been prouder of anything else in my career.

As April comes to a close, there’s one other thing I’m proud of, and humbled by—the amazing reader support we’ve received since this whole mess started.

Thank you to Ken Alterwitz, Debby Anspach, Gustavo Arellano, Jill Arnold, Scott Balson, Joanne Bosher, George Bullis, William Campbell, John Carney, Jeffrey Clarkson, Mark Cohen, Jeffrey Davied, John de Dios, John Delaney, Casey Dolan, Jim Flanagan, Richard Fluechtling, Joshua Friedman, Howard Goldberg, Lea Goodsell, Edward Guzman, Michael Herzfeld, Morgan James, Tony Gangloff, Jeff Hammerberg, Lynn Hammond, Vicky Harrison, Richard Hart, Laura Hein, Mark Horvath, Stephen King, Harvey Lewis, Shari Lipman, Alex McCune, Elizabeth McGarry, Jeffrey Norman, Alexis Ortega, Marsha Pare, Deidre Pike, Scott Phipps, David Ponsar, Roy Schaefer, Virgina Schubert, Ann Sheffer, Michael Strockbine, Miho Suma, Kenneth Theriault, Bryan Tosi, Darrell Tucci, Cara Van Dijk, Lydia Walker, Beth Wexler, Richard Wilson, Dennis Wodzisz and Leonard Woods for becoming Supporters of the Independent in recent weeks. (If I somehow missed someone, please accept my apologies.)

If you’re able, please consider joining them, so we can keep doing what we’re doing.

Again, thank you. Your support makes all the work—even when it’s emotionally trying—worth the effort. And then some.

Today’s links:

• Let’s start with more encouraging news on the increasing amount of science showing that drugs can indeed beat down COVID-19.

• Last night, a memo to police chiefs around the state said that Gov. Newson was preparing to close all beaches and state parks, following crowding issues here and there last weekend. Well, turns out he didn’t do that: Instead, he decided to pick on Orange County by closing ONLY the beaches there. Needless to say, this is NOT going over well in Orange County.

• I was again a guest on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast/videocast with the gang, as well as Dr. Laura Rush, Desert AIDS Project Director of Development Darrell Tucci, and LGBT Center of the Desert CEO Mike Thompson. Check out the increasingly alarming state of my hair herein.

• This is happening in the Coachella Valley, too, alas: The New York Times reports that restaurants have become an enticing target for burglars.

• The Palm Springs International Shortfest won’t take place in a physical way come June, organizers announced today, but the show will go on online.

• One of the most vexing elements regarding the battle against the coronavirus is that so many people who have it—and can spread it—show no symptoms. The Conversation breaks down how this is possible, and what it all means.

• And then there’s this piece, from the Los Angeles Times, about a man who had the virus in his body for 40 damn days. Yeesh.

• April has been, I think we can all agree, awful … yet the stock market had its best month in three decades. What are they smoking on Wall Street, you ask? Let’s overextend this metaphor with this answer: They’re smoking lots of sweet, sweet government cash.

• In other news, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are getting government cash to party like it’s 1969, and take man back to the moon. (Since there is no coronavirus there, can we all go?!)

• What’s the difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant? Wait, is there a difference? According to CBS News, yes, there is.

• To nobody’s surprise, there are problems with some banks’ mortgage-forbearance policies. For example, as the Los Angeles Times reports, one man was told he could skip payments for six months … but he’d then have to pay all those missed payments in one lump sum. Yikes.

• Finally, Tom Hanks, America’s dad, is literally giving a part of himself to help save us all.

That’s all for now. Wash your hands. Buy our local-art-filled Coloring Book. Keep your fingers crossed that May is better … and congratulate yourself on the fact that a few hours from now, you will have survived the crapfest that was April 2020. Be safe. Back tomorrow.

It’s been yet another busy news day—in fact, there are links to more than 20 interesting stories below. But before we get into the news of the day, I wanted to share a link to my editor’s note (tweaked ever so slightly for online publication) from the Independent’s May print edition.

It covers all sorts of stuff I’ve already covered in this space (our coloring book, our Facebook grant, etc.), but if you want a recap of how things are going with your local independent newspaper, here’s a good place to start.

I’ll discuss the May print edition a little more tomorrow. But in the meantime … here are today’s links:

• The big news of the day: Preliminary study results now show that Gilead Sciences’ drug remdesivir can help a statistically significant number of people battling COVID-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci said this is a big deal—because it shows drugs can indeed fight this thing.

• I found this piece 1) gross, 2) fascinating and 3) oddly reassuring: Wanna know how scientists are watching for signs of an uptick in coronavirus infections? By studying sewage.

• This is evil and awful: You know how some states are starting the reopening process—even though the vast majority of the experts say that’s a terrible, terrible idea? Well, one “benefit” for the states is it forces people to go back to work—and gets them off of unemployment. But what if you work at a business that’s reopening, and you feel that it’s unsafe to go back? Well, in Iowa, at least, you have no choice.

• This is now the worst economy, like, ever (or at least since the government has been keeping track). So says Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

• Here’s a long read that is, for the most part, a good read, from The Atlantic, covering what we do and do not know about SARS-CoV-2.

• Good for Costco: Starting Monday, store hours are going back to normal—and masks will be mandatory.

• Keep your fingers crossed again: If all goes well (and a LOT will have to go well, but …) another vaccine candidate could be ready for emergency use by the fall.

• The vice president continues to receive criticism for his maskless trip to the Mayo Clinic. And the clinic’s getting flak for letting him get away with it.

The Bay Area is loosening restrictions on some businesses and industries juuust a little bit.

• Did Donald Trump suggest this? (Kidding!) (At least we think we are!) The first graph from this BBC News piece: “Authorities in a Spanish coastal resort have apologised after spraying a beach with bleach in an attempt to protect children from coronavirus.”

• Contact tracing is often cited as being a key element in helping us reopen before we have a vaccine. NPR recently surveyed all 50 states regarding their current contact-tracing capacity. Spoiler alert: Unless you live in North Dakota, your state doesn’t have enough.

• Well, Elon Musk is being an ass again.

• Late last week, we mentioned that the governor had announced a plan for the state to help pay for restaurants to prepare food for seniors and high-risk people in need. Well, Riverside County has started the signup process for both interested restaurants and people who may want to get food deliveries.

• Oh, great. Rashes and other weird skin issues can be a symptom of this damned virus, too.

AMC Theaters has banned Universal Pictures from its screens—and Regal Cinemas is threatening to take similar action—after the studio moved Trolls World Tour to a digital-exclusive release.

• You know times are weird when The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, publishes a piece on how to negotiate with creditors to lower or delay payments on bills.

• As long as they don’t become artificially intelligent and take over, robots may be able help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by cleaning places with UV light.

• The Los Angeles Times brings us yet another piece on the devastating effects the shutdown is having on the work of scientists who aren’t directly involved with the battle against COVID-19.

• Miss the museum? Check out the Palm Springs Art Museum’s online exhibit of the photography of Stephen H. Willard (1894-1966).

• Pro tip: If you’re going to do a news report from your home, and you decide to eschew pants, make sure that viewers can’t see that.

That’s all for today. Wash your hands. Buy our amazing Coloring Book. And if you can spare a few bucks, please consider becoming a supporter of the Independent; it costs a lot of money to do quality journalism and make it available for free to all. Thanks again for reading. More tomorrow.

So, uh, hi. How’s the pandemic been treating you?

Here at the Independent, we’ve been working harder than we ever. I’ve been dividing time between looking for funding, getting out our new Daily Digests five or six times a week (sign up for them here), new projects, and doing the “normal” Independent work (writing, editing, posting stories, etc.).

Here’s how that’s going:

• Our staff and contributors have been doing amazing journalism. Want proof? Look at all of the content compiled in our May print edition. Even though we don’t have enough advertising support to justify it, we decided to bump up this issue to 32 pages so print readers could get all of the important news and information we covered in April—regarding everything from the struggles of our local senior centers and domestic-violence agencies, to news on how our schools are coping, to advice on how to cut down on food waste. I can’t thank our writers and designers enough for all the work they’re doing.

• I am proud to announce that the Coachella Valley Independent is one of 400 local newsrooms around North America that received a $5,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project, in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association, to help us continue our reporting on the coronavirus crisis. We’re honored to be one of the recipients of this grant. Not only is it evidence of the quality work we're doing at the Independent; it’s a testament to all of the support and feedback we have received from you, our readers. I thank all of you who have reached out and offered a kind thought, or words of encouragement, or constructive criticism, in the last couple of months. This grant and your support will help us continue to do what we do—honest, local, ethical journalism, available for free to all.

• However … that $5,000 grant, while beyond helpful, doesn’t even cover one month of the losses in business we’ve had as a result of the pandemic. That’s why I am sooooo grateful to everyone who’s become a Supporter of the Independent in recent months. Dozens of readers have stepped up with amounts between $5 and $500—but again, it’s still not enough to make up for our other revenue losses due to the pandemic. If you’d like to join them and help us continue doing what we’re doing, visit our Supporters page.

• You can also support the Independent, the CREATE Center for the Arts and local artists by purchasing our local-art coloring-book project, Coloring the Coachella Valley Vol. 1. It features the work of local artists, as well as Independent file photos converted into coloring pages. All the proceeds will be split between the Independent, the CREATE Center and the artists whose work is inside. The 24-page book is available as both a digital download and as a printed 8.5 by 11 book, on quality paper, by the UPS Store. The digital downloads cost $20 each; both the digital download and the print version are available for $30 each (shipping included). Learn more and see a few sample pieces here.

• We know virtually every local small business is struggling right now—so we’ve started our new Adopt a Small Business program, an initiative designed to promote locally owned businesses AND support local journalism. You can help a favorite small business advertise in the Independent—at highly discounted rates: For $199, the small business will receive a quarter-page ad in a monthly print edition of the Independent; run-of-site ads in rotation for a month at CVIndependent.com; and at least one ad per week for a month in the Independent’s Daily Digest. The value of this package is more than $600. Find details here.

Thanks for reading the Coachella Valley Independent. Hang in there. Better days are coming.

—Jimmy Boegle,
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There was sooooo much interesting news today—from more on California’s reopening plans to the hubbub over Tupac Shakur’s unemployment (not joking!)—we shan’t delay in getting to the links:

• Today’s big news: Gov. Newsom today laid out more specifics on the reopening of California, in a four-stage process. Right now, we’re in Stage 1. (But you knew that already.) He also suggested that the state’s schools could open earlier than normal summer

• From the Independent: Kevin Allman talked to the owners of Dringk, Bongo Johnny’s and Eight4Nine, as well as the executive director of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce, about the tough decisions restaurants have had to make during the pandemic.

• From the Independent: Matt King is a student at College of the Desert who comes from a family full of teachers—so he decided to talk to several of his teachers, current and past, about the challenges of being a teacher at a time when in-person classes cannot be.

• Two related stories: The Conversation brings us this piece, posted yesterday from a business-law expert, on one reason why meat plants may be closing—a concern over being prosecuted if they get blamed for spreading the virus. And then today comes the news that the president plans on ordering the plants to remain open—and possibly protecting them from liability—in an effort to keep the meat supply chain up and running.

A sad stats day: The U.S. crossed the 1 million line in terms of coronavirus cases—and the virus has now killed more Americans than the Vietnam War.

• Yet another piece of evidence showing that we’re living in the worst timeline: The feds are preparing to loan big business billions—with almost no strings whatsoever.

• NPR’s headline says it all: “Leaving Off Mask at Mayo Clinic, Pence Said He Wanted To Look Workers ‘in the Eye.’” Sigh.

• The Wall Street Journal yesterday posted this piece: “The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for COVID-19.” While the story itself is interesting, I recommend skipping straight to the PDF report from the group

• For this one year only, films will not need to be released theatrically in order to be eligible for the Oscars.

• Best Buy today announced that it was allowing the Geek Squad to enter people’s homes again.

• Well, this is depressing: Some stores are running out of sympathy cards because of this damned virus.

The nation’s hotels, large and small, are getting ready to do things rather differently when travel again becomes a thing.

• As the great Dave Barry would say, we are not making this up: Scientists are examining the possibility that nicotine may keep COVID-19 at bay. Yes, really.

• I repeat, we are not making this up: If you’re having problems checking the status of your stimulus check on the IRS website, try typing things in all caps. Yes, really, again.

• Meanwhile, out of Kentucky comes this headline: “Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear apologizes to Tupac Shakur over coronavirus unemployment claim.” Yes, this headline is accurate, and no, we’re not smelling toast.

• Aaaand in the ever-weird and cutthroat world of British media, a newspaper has suspended a journalist after he allegedly snuck into a rival newspaper’s Zoom meeting.

• This is not directly related to the virus, but we need all the good news we can get, so here’s a just-released trailer for the Kimmy Schmidt special coming to Netflix in May.

That’s all for today. Buy our coloring book, dang it! Let us know if you want a copy of our May print edition sent to you. And if you can afford to support our journalism, please do so, because times are tough. We’ll be back tomorrow.