Hi. My name is Jimmy. My brain is complete mush right now, because today was the day we launched the all-new CVIndependent.com—and it went fairly smoothly, except for the fact that the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) is fickle and bizarre, which led some brain-mushifying delays and general weirdness.

Anyway, the new site is up now … unless the DNS decides to show you the old website. If you do get to the new site, and you have any feedback, please send it to me! If you get the old website, I recommend shaking your fists at the sky (and then trying again in an hour or three).

I’ll talk more about the new site on Friday, when presumably, my brain will be semi-functional again.

Now, for the news:

• Here’s the Riverside County District 4 report for the week ending Dec. 13. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and desert-y points eastward.) The numbers are all simply awful. Just awful.

• Depressingly related: Politifact has chosen its 2020 Lie of the Year: COVID-19 denialism. Key quote: “It was a symphony of counter narrative, and Trump was the conductor, if not the composer. The message: The threat to your health was overhyped to hurt the political fortunes of the president.

• Even though the ICUs are full and COVID is running amok, San Bernardino County is asking the California Supreme Court to overturn the stay-at-home order: “In a lawsuit filed directly to the state’s top court late Monday night, Dec. 14, the county argues that Gov. Gavin Newsom had no authority to ban all gatherings except protests and religious services, close many businesses designated as nonessential, end in-person dining at restaurants and cap restaurant’s occupancy at 20%,” according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

• This is a bad-news, weird-news, but mostly good news situation. According to Politico: “Pharmacists have found a way to squeeze extra doses out of vials of Pfizer’s vaccine, potentially expanding the nation’s scarce supply by up to 40 percentThe Food and Drug Administration said late Wednesday that those extra doses could be used, clearing up confusion that had caused some pharmacists to throw away leftover vaccine for fear of violating the rules the agency set last week.”

• We’ve heard this before, but could it be for real this time? NBC News reports: “Congressional leaders and the White House are nearing agreement on a roughly $900 billion coronavirus relief deal that will likely include a new round of direct payments (to Americans), three sources familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.” Keep your fingers crossed!

• Donald Trump’s likely new neighbors in Florida don’t want him there. According to The Washington Post: “That message was formally conveyed Tuesday morning in a demand letter delivered to the town of Palm Beach and also addressed to the U.S. Secret Service asserting that Trump lost his legal right to live at Mar-a-Lago because of an agreement he signed in the early 1990s when he converted the storied estate from his private residence to a private club. The legal maneuver could, at long last, force Palm Beach to publicly address whether Trump can make Mar-a-Lago his legal residence and home, as he has been expected to do when he becomes an ex-president after the swearing-in of Joe Biden on Jan. 20.”

• Meanwhile, at McDonald’s, franchise owners are ticked off at corporate for adding fees, ending a subsidy and otherwise taking money out of local pockets. According to Restaurant Business Online: “In addition, 95% of franchisees surveyed this week agreed to withhold all ‘non-essential’ contact with the company in protest over the changes. The protest left Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, on hold for 15 minutes during a scheduled call with operators in Ohio. No franchisee showed up.”

• MedPage Today reports that the feds have approved the first over-the-counter COVID-19 test. How does the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test work? “Users insert the included sample collection device into their noses, then place it in a small, Bluetooth-enabled analyzer, which transmits the result to a smartphone placed nearby. An app on the phone then informs the user. Results are delivered in as little as 20 minutes via the smartphone, and reported to appropriate public health authorities. Users are required to input their zip code and date of birth in the app, but name and email address are optional.”

• The New York Times spoke to two former officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the ways in which the Trump administration meddled with the oh-so-important agency. Key quote: “Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” (former C.D.C. Chief of Staff Kyle) McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.

• Internal documents from the World Health Organization show that a lot of people worry that plans to get the vaccine to poorer countries may fail—meaning some countries may not get the vaccine until 2024. Reuters reports: “The World Health Organization’s COVAX program is the main global scheme to vaccinate people in poor and middle income countries around the world against the coronavirus. It aims to deliver at least 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 to cover 20% of the most vulnerable people in 91 poor and middle-income countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But in internal documents reviewed by Reuters, the scheme’s promoters say the program is struggling from a lack of funds, supply risks and complex contractual arrangements which could make it impossible to achieve its goals.”

• This lede from The Washington Post is SO horrifyingly on brand for 2020: “Santa and Mrs. Claus weren’t feeling any symptoms the day they visited with dozens of children during an annual Christmas parade. But four days after the Dec. 10 event in the small city of Ludowici, Ga., a local official took to Facebook with startling news: The Clauses had both tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the possibility that around 50 youngsters were exposed.”

• Politico published an exclusive earlier today about former Trump administration science adviser Paul Alexander; turns out he had decidedly non-mainstream (read: dangerous) ideas on how to manage the pandemic. The headline says it all: “‘We want them infected’: Trump appointee demanded ‘herd immunity’ strategy, emails reveal.” Yeesh.

• The Living Desert announced it would reopen on a limited basis tomorrow. While the state’s stay-at-home order says zoos must close, it allows outdoor recreation facilities to remain open. “To adhere to the state of California’s outdoor recreation facility operating requirements, The Living Desert will close all food and beverage outlets, areas of gathering, indoor exhibits, giraffe feeding, and the carousel. Advanced reservations are required for all admissions including members and guests. In addition, face coverings continue to be required for all guests over 3 years of age.” Read more about the reopening plans here.

• Joel Kinnamon, the superintendent and president of College of the Desert, has announced he will be retire as of March 31. Kinnamon became the college’s seventh president back in July 2012. “The decision to retire was difficult as I have served in multiple community college systems for more than 30 years,” he said, via a news release. “However, over the past few years I have also been tending to the needs of ailing parents with debilitating conditions. The prudent decision at this time became more evident to lessen my professional demands and place them towards my family.”

• Finally, if you need a cocktail, and heaven knows I sure do right now, the Independent’s resident booze scribe, Kevin Carlow, offers up this list of underrated cocktails that he strongly encourages you to make at home. (And, hey, if this link doesn’t work yet, it’s because of DNS internet weirdness; please accept my apologies, and know it will work soon!)

That’s all the news I can handle. If you have a buck or two to spare, and value what the Independent does (including a regular cocktail column!) please click here to learn more on how to become a Supporter of the Independent. Be safe, and as always, thanks for reading!

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...