After 15 long months of widespread restrictions due to the pandemic, California has finally reopened.

The state is open again … but it’s definitely not the same. The ongoing pandemic, the damage it’s causing, and the scars it’s leaving behind will be with us for a long time.

These thoughts kept crossing my mind as I looked over our recent stories. For many months now, we’ve been covering the ways in which the pandemic altered life as we knew it. So much of what we cover in “normal” times focuses on things to do outside one’s home—the goings-on at restaurants, theatrical productions, bands you can go see, etc. When we were all of a sudden supposed to stay home as much as possible, we had to change things up. Our cocktail columnist wrote about home bartending instead of drinks at local places. Our music writer wrote about streaming performances rather than live shows. Our theater reviewers … well, they had almost nothing to do at all, save a review of one online show Dezart Performs brilliantly presented in the midst of the strict shutdown earlier this year.

Now, finally, again, we’re covering the goings-on at restaurants, theatrical productions, bands you can go see, etc. But things are definitely different.

We recently published a commentary by a service-industry professional who is frustrated by a thus-far fruitless job search … because some restaurant owners don’t realize how things have changed since March 2020. Matt King recently profiled an east valley youth-leadership group … and one of the big concerns they’re facing is mental-health challenges due to the pandemic. We did a story regarding CVRep’s plans for the summer and the upcoming season … every one of which has been downsized in some way because of the pandemic.

It’s also important to note that the pandemic is not over. Millions of Americans are not vaccinated, and deadly SARS-CoV-2 variants are making their way around the U.S.—and the Coachella Valley. As of this writing, 39 people in Riverside County are hospitalized with COVID-19. Seven of them are in the intensive-care unit.

Beyond the United States, the pandemic in many places is as bad as it’s ever been. On June 17, Reuters reported that the global COVID-19 death toll just surpassed 4 million. This sentence from that report was particularly sobering: “It took over a year for the COVID-19 death toll to hit 2 million, while the next 2 million were recorded in just 166 days, according to a Reuters analysis.”

California is finally open again. Life is much, much better for people who are vaccinated. But the pandemic is not over, and things are not the same.

As always, thank you for reading the Coachella Valley Independent—and be sure to pick up our July print edition, on newsstands now.

This is a slightly edited version of the editor’s note that appears in the July 2021 print edition.

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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...