Happy Saturday, all. I’ll keep this short, because the last thing you want to be doing is reading depressing news over the weekend.

But, alas, there is depressing news to be told.

The state has announced that Southern California—including Riverside County—will be placed under the Regional Stay at Home Order as of the end of the day tomorrow (Sunday), because less than 15 percent of the region’s ICU beds remain open. As of this afternoon, the state says just 12.5 percent of Southern California’s ICU beds are available.

The San Joaquin Valley region is also being placed under the order, as the state says just 8.6 percent of ICU beds there remain open, as COVID-19 continues to run amok in California and around the country.

This means that for at least three weeks, restaurants have to close indoor dining, and can only offer takeout and delivery. Hair and nail salons have to close. All retail outlets can remain open—but at only 20 percent capacity.

To make matters even more nuts, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco last night released the YouTube-video equivalent of a raised middle finger to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the rest of the state government. In summary, he accuses Newsom of being a dictatorial hypocrite bully who is trying to blackmail the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and says he and his officers will not enforce the Regional Stay at Home Order, which he called “ridiculous.” He also downplayed the severity of the health crisis, saying the “medical field is so split about this virus” and referring to the sudden rises in hospitalizations as “normal seasonal increases in patients, coupled with COVID-19 patients.” Watch the three-minute-long video here.

What does this all mean? For starters, a whole lot of your neighbors have just found themselves unemployed over the holiday season—and a bunch of small business owners are losing sleep wondering if their companies will be able to survive.

On the flip side, many medical professionals are expressing relief that the state is taking serious actions to try to slow the runaway spread of SARS-CoV-2—despite what Chad Bianco thinks.

“We have seen cases and other metrics rising for the past month, and it is expected to get even worse this month,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of the Riverside County Department of Public Health, in a news release. “We must practice social distancing and wear masks to preserve valuable space and staff in our hospital system. These resources are already stretched thin.”

So … yeah. That’s where we are at with things. There is, however, one thing everyone agrees on: We all hope this shutdown lasts just the minimum three weeks (which takes us through Dec. 27) … and we’re all afraid that it will last longer than that.

Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone.

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...