When Los Angeles County restored its indoor mask mandate on July 18, a whole bunch of business owners sighed in despair.

They were not sighing because they disagreed with the mandate; they were sighing because, yet again, they, along with their employees, were thrust onto the front lines of COVID-19 rules enforcement.

As the Delta variant ravages through unvaccinated populations around the world, I’d like to take a moment to say to my fellow local small-business owners—especially restaurants and retailers—as well as their employees: Thank you for all you’ve done to both survive and serve our community during this seemingly never-ending pandemic.

It’s not police officers or city/county code-enforcement officers who have done the bulk of the “policing” around rules like mask mandates; it’s been businesses. I doubt there’s a single employee of a local restaurant or retail store who doesn’t have multiple stories about dealing with ignorant and rude members of the public—jerks who refused to follow a simple, basic, life-saving rule.

Not only have business owners and employees become the de facto mask police; they’ve done so without a choice, at a time when they were risking serious illness by the simple act of going to work.

It seemed that as of June 15, these owners and employees could finally relax. California had reopened, and masks were strictly optional (at least for vaccinated folks). Then came the Delta variant. As of this writing, no Coachella Valley governments have re-enacted an indoor mask mandate such as Los Angeles County’s restored rules. However, as quickly as Delta is spreading, I wouldn’t be surprised if stricter rules were put in place soon.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I do know I’m filled with gratitude for the local business owners and their employees who have tried to do the right thing over the last year and a half.

On another topic: Seeing as it’s hot out there, and seeing as there’s SARS-CoV-2 out there, this is a perfect time to find a nice, cool space to enjoy a good book. To whet your literary whistle, we recently presented excerpts from two local authors: Michael Craft, whose story “VIP Check-In” is part of new collection Palm Springs Noir; and Rodney Ross, who just published his new novel, Diversionary Fires. If you’re the type who prefers to read their fiction in print rather than pixels, I have good news for you: These excerpts are also included in our August print edition, which will be distributed across the valley this week.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Drop me a line at the email address below if you have any feedback—and be sure to get your copy of the August 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...