So … I was a little cranky yesterday, as regular readers of this Daily Digest know.

Today, well, I am still cranky. I’d explain why, but part of it involves a boring story about a loan application that was rejected, apparently due to a glitch on the lender’s end, and when I called to figure out what happened, after a half-hour of gibberish, I was told I needed to call the Small Business Administration, even though the SBA has nothing to do with glitches on the lender’s end.

It was right then and there that I almost started day-drinking. Almost.

Anyway, in an effort to improve my mood, and perhaps yours, I am going to focus on some truly positive news that came out today. But before I do, I must present the usual caveats: Remember, science/study news these days is coming out quickly, often before it’s vetted, peer reviewed, etc. So, don’t get too excited about any of these things, OK?

First: Early study results regarding one of the drugs being investigated as a possible COVID-19 treatment are really, really encouraging. About the drug remdesivir, made by California company Gilead Sciences, CNN reports: “The patients taking part in a clinical trial of the drug have all had severe respiratory symptoms and fever, but were able to leave the hospital after less than a week of treatment, STAT quoted the doctor leading the trial as saying.”

Second: We’ve heard over and over that it’s going to take at least a year—at least being the key words—for a vaccine to be available. While that will likely be the case for most of us, according to various news sources, it’s possible, just maybe, that one or more could be available in about six months or so—perhaps even sooner—at least for high-risk groups.

Third: Preliminary antibody studies are coming out indicating that a lot more people may have been infected with COVID-19 than previously believed. Now, this is more of a mixed bag than strictly good news. If true, on one hand, it means a huge number of people who have the virus—and, therefore, can spread the virus to others—never know it, and that creates all sorts of challenges. On the other hand, it means this disease is less lethal, percentage-wise, than previously believed. And if—IF—people who’ve had COVID-19 are immune for some period of time (which is something we do not know yet), that means we’re closer to some sort of herd immunity.

Fourth: Testing is becoming ever-more available in Riverside County. According to the county: “Riverside County residents who do not have symptoms but want to be tested for coronavirus will now be able to after health officials modified the guidelines for testing.” 

Fifth: What we’re doing now is working. Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors posted today: “Thank you to everyone, you have helped us begin to flatten the curve. In Riverside County, the doubling rate for new infections has slowed from every 4.7 days two weeks ago to every seven days. In Palm Springs, the doubling rate for new infections is now approximately every three weeks. This is a major change from the a few weeks ago when we were designated as a ‘hot spot.’”

So … as we head into the weekend, there are a lot of reasons for optimism.

Today’s links:

• More good news: Our partners at CalMatters bring us this story about the fact that many of us are looking out for each other during this crisis—perhaps more than ever before.

• Gov. Gavin Newsom has put together a task force with some big names to help California recover from this recession we suddenly find ourselves in.

Work continues to fix the complete mess that is the SBA loan situation.

• The Hill reports that one soon-to-be-published study indicates that social distancing is actually much, much better for our economy than more deaths would be.

• Our friends at Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services asked us to share this info: “CVSAS has collaborated with Palm Desert Riverside County Sheriff’s Department to host a First Responders/Healthcare Providers Appreciation Procession. This event is to acknowledge the heroes working on the front-lines during this global pandemic. We will be meeting in the Albertson’s parking lot located in Country Club Village at: 40101 Monterrey Ave. Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 at 7 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, April 21. … We are asking that you bring a blue light to shine from your car in honor of them as we follow law enforcement through Eisenhower. We are still following all rules and regulations regarding wearing face masks. … Please RSVP via email by Monday, April 20, at noon to”

• A cautionary tale: An NFL player who has tested positive for COVID-19 swears he did everything right … and still caught the virus.

• Only in Florida, where some public officials are inexplicably reopening beaches, could surfing be considered an “essential activity.”

• Yes, real estate transactions are still taking place during the shutdown … but the whole home-buying/selling process has gone through some changes. Jeff Hammerberg of offers this primer.

• You know how talk shows that normally have live audiences seem uncomfortably weird without laughter? The Conversation explains why a laugh track is important.

• I have never been a huge Guy Fieri fan, but these upcoming “takeout” versions of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” sound pretty gosh-darned cool.

• The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert has launched “Discover at Home” activities on its social media … such as a gazpacho recipe for junior home cooks!

That’s all for today. Hey, our Coloring Book is officially on sale! We’ll start getting the books into hands, both physically and virtually next week; here are the details. If you can spare some cash, and value the independent local journalism this publication provides, for free to all, please consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Watch over the weekend for updates and more; the Daily Digest will return Monday. In the meantime, wash your hands; wear a mask when you absolutely must go out; and stay safe. We’re well on our way to the other side!

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...

One reply on “Some Reasons for Real Optimism; Gov. Newsom’s Big Task Force—Coachella Valley Independent Daily Digest: April 17, 2020”

  1. Thanks for this good news locally. Comments as a bench biohazard-virologist-turned-COVID-hospital-Doctor:
    1. Remdesivir’s compassionate access study was uninterpretable because there was no control group. It might work but you can’t tell without a randomized controlled trial (several ongoing but the two Chinese study sites stopped enrolling because their case load fell.) We hope it will help. It’s IV only and so only for hospital cases.
    2. A vaccine at soonest would be early 2022 for trials. Mass production? Maybe 2024. Sorry, that’s just realistic. Also, a vaccine rushed into development could worsen infection, as happened in a pediatric dengue vaccine study in Philippines in 2014. You cannot cut corners in science. Nature has laws, quality work can’t be rushed.
    3. The Santa Clara study that asserts COVID may be more widespread in our US population (and implying it’s less deadly than we believe) was bad science: not randomized, and their estimated prevalence numbers were based on dubious mathematical assumptions. Sorry, that’s the fine print. This virus is quite lethal and herd immunity policies are a good may to kill innocent people, mostly in disadvantaged communities. Some point to this study to imply “let’s just let COVID run amuck” is policy supported by current science or morality. It’s not.
    4. Coachella Valley will need a minimum of 600 PCR tests daily, probably more, to contain the pandemic enough to reopen the economy locally. We may be at most 1/3 of this, tops, right now.
    5. Yes, physical distancing, hand washing and masks on everyone in public is why our local hospitals didn’t run out of beds in mid-April—which is what the exponential math said would happen as of early March. SOCIAL DISTANCING IS THE ONLY WEAPON PROTECTING US FROM ESCALATING DEATHS. We have very few tests, no treatments, no vaccine. Twenty percent of people who get COVID need a hospital. The Valley would need 200-400 contact tracers, just in the Valley, to open us up. There’s 40 for the whole county.
    Again: Please, listen to medical scientists. Our only agenda is to serve humanity—it’s why we chose our careers (most of us anyway). Re-opening the country must be science based, and regions that open prematurely will spread this plague to places trying to do the right thing and save lives. We can reopen society safely. When? When our Valley has 600 COVID pcr tests running daily and 400 contact tracers trained and ready. That’s when.

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