Welcome to Monday. It’s Day 1 of the Regional Stay at Home Order shutdown. Let’s get right to it:

• On Saturday in this space, we mentioned the, uh, misinformed video that Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco posted on social media Friday night. Well, Bianco didn’t stop there. It turns out he’s been rather active on Twitter since the video’s posting—and in his comments, he’s been continuing to downplay the severity of the crisis—and the dangerousness of COVID-19. He also said he would not be taking the vaccine. Simply put, this is dangerous misinformation.

• I would encourage Sheriff Bianco to read this piece in today’s Washington Post, in which seven ICU nurses from locales across the country talk about the pure hell with which they’ve been dealing. Key quote, from Catie Carrigan, from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss: “There are some patients who have been in their younger 20s and their younger 30s, and I think maybe those are the hardest cases. They have families and they have kids just like I do, and it’s hard coming into work and taking care of them. Knowing they’re supposed to be going to college, they’re supposed to be getting married, they’re supposed to be having kids and, instead, they’re laying in a hospital bed on a ventilator fighting for their life. They have their whole entire lives ahead of them, and then they get hit with this disease that everybody thinks is a hoax and then they die.”

• I would also encourage Bianco to read this piece, particularly the last item, titled “Fact: Urging high-risk people to stay home and letting everyone else live normal lives would not ‘solve’ the crisis.” Important quote: “Isolating the vulnerable is also not practical. … Roughly 21 percent of U.S. adults 65 and older live in a multigenerational household, as do many people with preexisting health conditions.”

The state has tweaked the rules regarding grocery stores: They’re now allowed to operate at 35 percent capacity under the stay-at-home order, rather than 20 percent. Key quote, from the Los Angeles Times: “‘In order to ensure that California’s grocery stores are able to safely deliver sufficient quantities of food to California households, it is necessary to ensure capacity for grocery stores,’ according to the supplemental order signed by Dr. Erica Pan, the California Health Department’s acting public health officer, on Sunday.”

• California is now—on a voluntary basis—asking people to use their smart phones to get and send alerts about possible exposure to the coronavirus. According to The Associated Press, via SFGate: “The tool … doesn’t track people’s identities or locations but uses Bluetooth wireless signals to detect when two phones are within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of each other for at least 15 minutes, officials said. California’s 40 million residents can opt in to the system starting Thursday. When someone who has activated the technology tests positive for the virus, that person will receive a verification code from state health officials that can be used to send an anonymous alert to other users who may have been exposed over the past 14 days.”

• Also from SFGate: The state is not offering up any specific data or evidence to back up their decision to close outdoor dining and other businessesand this fact has some business groups rather perturbed: “Studies have suggested that activities such as indoor dining and working out at an indoor gym do spread the virus, but restaurant and personal care service owners have yet to see satisfactory data from state and local officials supporting bans on outdoor dining and masked indoor activities.”

As a result of this lack of evidence—and buoyed by statements by certain sheriffs that they don’t respect the state’s ordersa number of SoCal business are planning on defying the shut-down demands.

• What if, like certain sheriffs, you decide not to get the vaccine? Well, you could lose your job. CNBC talked to labor attorney Rogge Dunn: “One of Dunn’s clients in the restaurant sector thinks a compulsory inoculation requirement could be a game changer for business. … It may be, in part, a PR tactic, but Dunn said it is totally within an employer’s rights to implement this kind of requirement. ‘Under the law, an employer can force an employee to get vaccinated, and if they don’t take it, fire them,’” said Dunn.

Bon Appetit recently published this essay by restaurateur Edward Lee, in which he says it may be too late to save many, many independent restaurants. “The options for restaurants right now are to go further into debt or to close,” he writes. “If we make 80 percent of our income now, that’s a great day. It’s like a Saturday night with all the tables booked. But then there are days when we’ve done 15 percent of our normal revenue. Those are days where it’s actually cheaper for me to keep the lights off and close the doors.”

The Los Angeles Times looks at the possibility that public officials are bungling their messaging regarding COVID-19—and suggests they should remember lessons learned during previous health crises: “Typically used to describe sex-education programs and needle exchanges for drug users, harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a harm-reduction approach would encourage masking and social distancing instead of demanding that people have no contact at all with friends or family they don’t live with. In other words, even during a pandemic, abstinence-only isn’t effective.”

The New York Times reports: “Trump administration officials passed when Pfizer offered in late summer to sell the U.S. government additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, according to people familiar with the matter. Now Pfizer may not be able provide more of its vaccine to the United States until next June because of its commitments to other countries, they said.” The outgoing president apparently plans on trying to fix this mess with an executive order tomorrow.

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his secretary of Health and Human Services—which, given that we’re in the middle of a raging pandemic, will be one of the most important cabinet posts for the foreseeable future. The New York Times explains why he was chosen for the job.

• Some Republicans are expressing concerns about the selection of Becerra. According to the Los Angeles Times: “At least three Republicans objected to Becerra’s endorsement of Medicare for All, a proposal for a government-run healthcare system, and his support for abortion rights and access.”

Our partners at CalMatters point out that Becerra’s nomination, combined with Sen. Kamala Harris’ election to the vice presidency, have launched quite the game of political musical chairs.

Also from our partners at CalMatters: Columnist Dan Walters notes that the new state legislative session kicks off this week—and the upcoming session could prove to be “its most unusual session in the state’s 170-year history.”

• And here’s one more that just came in from CalMatters: “Foster Farms will shut down its facility on Cherry Street in Fresno following a coronavirus outbreak, according to company officials. Over the past two weeks, 193 workers at the 1,400-person facility in southwest Fresno tested positive for COVID-19, according to Ira Brill, vice president of communications for Foster Farms. None of the employees exhibited any symptoms, Brill told The Fresno Bee.” Yikes!

• (Insert head-smack emoji here): Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for the coronavirus, and has been hospitalized. As a result, the Arizona Legislature decided to shut down for a week, seeing as Giuliani was around some Republican lawmakers there for a good 11 hours last week.

• Meanwhile, out of Florida comes this appalling news: “State police brandishing firearms Monday raided the home of Rebekah Jones, the former Department of Health data scientist who built the state’s much-praised COVID-19 dashboard before being fired over what she said was refusing to ‘manipulate data.’ ‘They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids,’ Jones tweeted shortly before 5 p.m.” Wow.

• The two vaccines likely to get approved soon for emergency use both require two shots—and if people don’t show up for that second shot, very bad things could happen, as CBS News notes: “The consequences of people skipping a second vaccine dose could be significant. Although the coronavirus is unlikely to become vaccine-resistant, that could change if millions of individuals only get one dose of a vaccine that requires two treatments, said biologist David Kennedy, who studies viruses at Penn State University and co-authored a recent paper urging drug makers to look for signs of mutation in the coronavirus.

The Conversation talks to three scientists whose research projects have been delayed, damaged or flat-out ruined by COVID-19 restrictions.

Mike Thompson, the CEO of the LGBTQ Center of the Desert, is leaving The Center and the desert as of Feb. 3. He and his partner, Ron, are moving to Tulsa, Okla., to be closer to their families. He will be replaced on an interim basis by current board co-chair Mary Sue Allen (who, full disclosure, is a softball teammate of mine). I spoke to Mike not long ago about the lessons he and his colleagues have learned during the pandemic, as well as the organization’s expansion efforts—including the just-announced space in Coachella. Mike will be deeply missed in the Coachella Valley.

And finally comes this shocker from the New York Post: “Space aliens have reached an agreement with the US government to stay mum on the experiments they conduct on Earth—as well as their secret base on Mars—until mankind is ready to accept them, the former head of Israel’s space program claimed in a new interview.” The piece goes to say that Haim Eshed, 87, “may have gone to insanity and beyond,” but we have 24 days left in 2020, so who the hell knows at this point.

At 1,700 words, I think we can all agree that this is enough news for a Monday. Please be safe—there’s a lot of COVID-19 out there. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Support local businesses. Get takeout or delivery from an independent restaurant if you can afford to do so—and order direct from the restaurants, if you can, because those apps take a big chunk out of the restaurant’s take. Plus, TIP WELL. If you can afford to support the Independent as well, click here for more info. As always, thanks for reading.

Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...