Folks, another statewide stay-at-home order is coming. If I were a betting man (and I am not, even though I was born in Nevada), I’d go all-in on an announcement being made tomorrow (Thursday)—Friday at the latest.
This leads to an obvious question: What restrictions will be in that stay-at-home order, and what won’t be?
The counties that have forged ahead of the state regarding shut-downs have done so rather differently. For example, outdoor dining is currently on a hiatus of at least three weeks in Los Angeles, but in Santa Clara County, it’s still allowed—but if you enter the county after being more than 150 miles away, you must endure a mandatory two-week quarantine.
“I think we’ve learned a lot of stuff, right?” Dr. Rutherford explained. “We’ve learned that fomite transmission has probably been overblown somewhat. We’ve learned that this is almost exclusively a respiratory disease.”
Because of that, Dr. Rutherford said a stay-at-home order for purple-tiered counties would not necessarily need to include shutting down all outdoor dining and non-essential retail, rather counties may need to reduce their capacity.
“I think you could keep some retail shopping which, I think would help out a lot of small businesses,” he suggested. “Outdoor dining with low density and everybody wearing masks, maybe.”
We’ll almost certainly know whether Dr. Rutherford was correct within the next 24-48 hours.
More news from the day:
• A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has told officials in L.A. County—where outdoor dining is currently banned, as mentioned above—that they need to provide scientific evidence that outdoor dining causes COVID-19 spread. According to the Los Angeles Times: “The county must return to court Tuesday to present evidence supporting the ban, L.A. County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant said at a hearing Wednesday morning. ‘You have to do a risk-benefit analysis for public health. You don’t just talk about the risk of spreading disease. You have to talk about the benefit of keeping restaurants open,’ Chalfant said. Chalfant expressed some skepticism about the ban. Based on the studies he has reviewed, the risk of spreading the coronavirus from outdoor dining appears minimal, he said.” The judge gave the county a Tuesday deadline—but, of course, the point could be semi-moot if the state bans outdoor dining, too.
• Here’s this week’s Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report. (District 4 pretty much means the Coachella Valley, as well as rural points eastward.) The overall hospitalization numbers are downright pants-wetting, and tragically, five more of our neighbors died from the virus during the week ending Nov. 29. However, the positivity rate and case numbers went down from the week before—but as much as I want to be encouraged by this news, I can’t be, because I suspect these numbers are a bit wonky because of the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll know more with next week’s report.
• For the first time in months, it seems that there’s a legitimate chance that Congress may actually do something to provide pandemic-beleaguered Americans with financial help. However, even this modest aid package is far from a sure thing. NBC News reports: “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the top Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, will support using the pared-back $908 billion COVID-19 aid package crafted by a group of bipartisan lawmakers as the basis for a final deal. Their support renews hope that Congress could approve aid before the end of the year. The proposal would provide an extra $300 a week in unemployment payments and extend help to cash-strapped local governments, as well as provide support for small businesses, transit systems and airlines.”
• A government panel has recommended that healthcare workers and people in long-term nursing homes be the first people to receive the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine(s) once approved. The Los Angeles Times explains: “The panel of independent scientific experts, created in 1964, makes recommendations to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who almost always approves them. … It will be up to state authorities whether to follow the guidance. It will also be left to them to make further, more detailed decisions if necessary—for example, whether to put emergency room doctors and nurses ahead of other healthcare workers if vaccine supplies are low.”
• Related-ish: The United Kingdom today became the first country to grant emergency-use approval of the Pfizer vaccine. CNN notes that the first vaccines could be given out there next week.
• Business Insider reports on increasing calls for the government to pay people to get vaccinated: “A recent poll from Gallup showed that around 42% of Americans say they wouldn’t get a shot right away, only a small drop from October. Other polls in the last few months suggested distrust of a vaccine regardless of political ideology. That skepticism tends to run deeper among Black and Hispanic Americans, surveys show. Robert Litan, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in the Bill Clinton administration, designed a plan to encourage more people to take it: Pay $1,000 for a shot. It’s an amount comparable to the millions of stimulus checks sent to Americans earlier this year under a federal rescue package.”
• There is new evidence that the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. last December—but, no, you probably didn’t have it, because the virus didn’t start widely circulating until late February. NPR reports: “Researchers came to this conclusion after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states. They found evidence of coronavirus antibodies in 106 out of 7,389 blood donations. The CDC analyzed the blood collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17.”
• Our partners at CalMatters examined the California ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning New York’s COVID-19 restrictions on churches: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, priests, pastors and rabbis have been trying and failing to convince judges to strike down California’s public health restrictions on mass gatherings as unconstitutional violations of religious freedom. At least 10 cases alleging religious discrimination have been filed in both state and federal court, according to a CalMatters lawsuit tracker; all have either been dropped, struck down or are still pending. But the court’s decision last week has many aggrieved church leaders feeling optimistic that California will soon get the same legal comeuppance New York received.”
• The Conversation looks at the reasons why rapid COVID-19 tests have not been as helpful as many had hoped they’d be at tamping down the pandemic. Spoiler alert—their availability has been a problem: “In some targeted applications—and if people take other precautions including mask wearing and social distancing–rapid tests can be a valuable tool. But the current state of availability and accuracy of these tests greatly limit how effective they are at slowing the spread of the virus in communities.”
• It’s going to take a long while for Southern California’s economy to fully recover from the mess in which it’s currently in. That was one of the conclusions shared at the Southern California Economic Summit yesterday. Spectrum News reports: “(Southern California Association of Governments) officials said the theme of the event was echoed in the economic forecasts, which showed that lower-income segments of the population have experienced dramatically more negative impacts, including deeper job losses and a projected longer recovery. Those challenges are exacerbated by Southern California’s higher cost of living, particularly in the area of housing, SCAG officials said.”
• Well, this is a frustrating lede, compliments of CNBC: “The Department of Labor has been both miscounting the number of people receiving unemployment benefits and underpaying those under a special program instituted to address the coronavirus pandemic, according to a government watchdog report Monday.” Sigh.
• From the Independent: Kevin Fitzgerald recently spoke with Jane Garrison, who spearheaded the successful effort to purchase and protect Oswit Canyon from developers. That sale closed on Nov. 2. “But well before the ink dried on those closing documents, Garrison and her team were evolving into a new nonprofit entity named the Oswit Land Trust—with plans to expand the organization’s efforts beyond Oswit Canyon: OLT is in negotiations to purchase three golf-course properties within Palm Springs, and then re-purpose the land to create the Mesquite Desert Preserve.”
• NBC News did a deep dive into data—finally released Tuesday night by the Small Business Administration after a whole lot of lawsuits—showing which businesses received PPP and EIDL money. One of the key findings? “The analysis found that properties owned by the Trump Organization as well as the Kushner Companies, owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, profited from the program. … Over 25 PPP loans worth more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Fifteen of the properties self-reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all.”
• Finally … if you can, we encourage you to assist the good folks at the Purple Room to bring some joy to local kids in need. According to Michael Holmes and co: “Well in the Desert usually has a huge Christmas dinner at the Convention Center here in Palm Springs. In the past they have fed over 2,000 people that day, and Santa gives gifts to all the children. For many of these kids, it is the only gift they receive. Due to COVID, this is not happening this year. Darci Daniels and I have taken up the task to try and fill the gap. We are collecting toys for the kids at Purple Room Supper Club in the lobby of Club Trinidad.” Learn more details here.
As always, thanks for reading. If you can, please help us here at the Independent continue to do what we do—quality independent local journalism—by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will return Friday at the latest.