CVIndependent

Thu07092020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

I would like to officially welcome you all to the toasty portion of the Coachella Valley 2020: Pandemic Edition.

Starting tomorrow, and for the next week plus, we’re expected to hit triple-digits each and every day. And as far as sheltering in place, I am trying to decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

On the plus side: I won’t want to go outside as much during the day, and that’ll make staying at home less of an issue.

On the minus side: I looooove summer evenings here—you know the kind, where you walk outside and think, “Gee, this doesn’t seem that hot,” and then you look at the weather on your phone, and it’s still 103 degrees, and you start to wonder if perhaps the heat has fried portions of your brain. Love those evenings.

Also on the minus side: most local HOA and apartment pools are still closed. And wearing a mask out when it’s 103 is gonna be less than pleasant.

Sigh.

Today’s links—and there are a lot of ’em:

• Gov. Gavin Newsom today said the state is ramping up COVID-19 testing—something that needs to happen, he says, before we start reopening the state.

• Related: Kaiser Permanente is building a new lab in Berkeley that will be able to process 5,000 tests a day by the time it opens in early June.

• The Santa Clara County health officer says a woman who died in her home on Feb. 6 was a COVID-19 victim—meaning the virus was spreading in this country a lot earlier than previously known.

• Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors has assembled a “Palm Springs Business Transition and Re-Entry Task Force” to guide the city’s efforts when it’s time to start reopening.

Meanwhile, the news coming out of Washington, D.C., is completely weird, with the president now saying he disagrees with the Georgia governor’s move to start reopening that state. And the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (i.e. the government agency involved most with developing a vaccine) says he was forced out by the president because he spoke out against Trump’s touting of hydroxychloroquine.

• Oh, and Attorney General William Barr recently left open the possibility of legal action against states that go “too far” with keeping stay-at-home orders in place. Lovely.

• People who needed medical help to battle the coronavirus are now starting to get some large medical bills.

• A New York Times analysis of mortality data in 11 countries shows a lot more people are dying during this pandemic than official counts are reporting.

• The city of Indio offers this very cool video from local leaders, all of whom have one thing to say to all of the essential workers out there: Thank you.

• As a former resident of Las Vegas who still retains great affection for the city, I have a fun fact for you: Did you know that the vast majority of the Las Vegas Strip is not actually part of the city of Las Vegas? The city limits actually start at Sahara Avenue and go north, for the most part; everything south of that is just part of unincorporated Clark County. In other words, the mayor of Las Vegas doesn’t actually have anything to do with most of what people think of as Las Vegas. Keep this in mind when you hear this dumpster-fire of an interview Anderson Cooper had with Carolyn Goodman, that aforementioned mayor of Las Vegas.

• The headline of this piece from New York Magazine is, quite simply, “We Might Never Get a Good Coronavirus Vaccine.” I won’t comment further, because I don’t want to start whimpering.

• Oh, and here’s more depressing news: A number of COVID-19 victims will be dealing with the effects of the disease for the rest of their lives.

How do blood sugar levels affect COVID-19? The Conversation explains the science behind this question thus far.

• From the Independent: What happens when two bored, laid-off bartenders, who happen to be roommates, talk about cocktails, and then transcribe the whole thing? Find out here, especially if you’re a fan of pickled eggs.

• Also from the Independent: The McCallum Theatre has announced a fantastic 2020-2021 season. We talked to McCallum head Mitch Gershenfeld about it—while keeping our fingers crossed that the season actually comes to be.

• The state has launched a website where people who are able can sign up to volunteer with organizations that have a need. Check out the California Volunteers website

• This story made me laugh out loud, even though it probably shouldn’t have: The California Highway Patrol says they’re giving out waaaay more tickets to people traveling more than 100 miles per hour.

Coachella Valley Repertory is starting a series of free online classes/lectures. The first one is taking place tomorrow (Thursday), at 6 p.m.: “Broadway Musicals: Blockbusters From Gypsy to Hello, Dolly!” with Glenn Rosenblum.

That’s what we call a busy news day, and that’s enough for now. If you want to support a local small business and the Independent at the same time, please consider our Adopt a Small Business program. If you want to support the CREATE Center for the Arts, local artists and the Independent at the same time, buy our amazing Coloring Book! Wash your hands, and wear a mask when you absolutely must go outside. We’re on deadline for the May print edition tomorrow, so we may or may not have a Daily Digest for Thursday, depending on how that goes; in either case, we’ll be here Friday. Stay safe, and thanks for reading.

Mitch Gershenfeld has been booking shows at the McCallum Theatre for more than two decades now—and it’s a vast understatement to say he’s never experienced a season like this.

The longtime McCallum president and CEO retired—while keeping his booking duties—late last summer to make way for a new president and CEO, Terrence Dwyer. Three months later, Dwyer was let go, and Gershenfeld returned as the acting president.

Then came March 12—and the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were supposed to have Ricky Skaggs that night,” Gershenfeld said during a recent phone interview. “It was a sold-out show, but we shut everything down. The rest of the shows for the season were canceled.

“But we had a plan. We kept all of our full-time staff on, and we’re continuing to work from our homes. We’re using Zoom and having daily meetings. We’re working on all the various aspects of the business, and we’re working on ramping up to get the new season launched.”

Tickets for that 2020-2021 season went on sale earlier this week at www.mccallumtheatre.com. The season is slated to kick off on Oct. 10 with the Ninth Annual Family Fun Day, featuring a participatory performance of The Little Mermaid by The Panto Company USA. The season then kicks into high gear in November, starting with a Nov. 1 show by humorist Jeanne Robertson.

That is, of course, if theaters are allowed to operate by then.

“We’re certainly looking with optimism that by November, things may have returned to a point where people can gather again and go to the theater,” Gershenfeld said. “If that doesn’t happen, if shows get canceled, people will get their tickets refunded, as we refunded all the tickets for the shows that were canceled (in March and April). … But we feel optimistic, and that’s why we want to go ahead with the season. We certainly want to be there for people. We know that being in isolation is difficult for everyone. We know that human beings crave the human connection. They crave the live experience, and that’s what the McCallum is all about. We hope that we will see a day soon when we’re all able to gather again—and when that day comes, we want to be prepared to provide those kinds of performances.”

Gershenfeld said he’s proud of the 2020-2021 season that he and his team have assembled. In some ways, he said, it’s one of the McCallum’s best ever.

“I think it’s the best Broadway season we’ve had in 20 years. I really do,” he said. “We have Come From Away, which I think is an extraordinary musical.” The musical nabbed seven 2017 Tony Award nominations, earning a win for Best Direction of a Musical. It’s slated for eight performances Feb. 3-7, 2021.

“I think Come From Away actually is even more meaningful now,” Gershenfeld said. “It is the story of Sept. 11, when all the airplanes were suddenly unable to come to the United States. We closed our airspace, and they landed in this little town of Gander, in Canada. It’s a story of how people react in a crisis. It’s a story of how the people of this town took care of 7,000 people that were left in the dark. They didn’t know what was happening in the U.S. The airspace was closed; there was no communication, and it was a very, very trying time. To see how people can come together and take care of each other—given what’s going on now, this musical becomes even more meaningful.”

Other Broadway shows on the schedule include Blue Man Group (Nov. 27-29); Jersey Boys (Jan. 15-17); Summer: The Donna Summer Story (Jan. 19-20); Riverdance (Jan. 26-31); Hairspray (April 2-4); an encore of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (April 8-10); and Les Misérables (March 23-28)—returning to the McCallum for the first time since 1993.

“It’s got these beautiful new sets that they created a couple of years back with all these video screens and everything,” Gershenfeld said about the new Les Misérables. “When you see the death of Javert—well, I don’t want to give it all away, but it’s pretty amazing.”

The schedule features the divas (like Patti Lupone on Jan. 6), comedians (like Paula Poundstone on Nov. 20) and old-school favorites (like Neil Sedaka on Jan. 8 and 9) one would expect to see on the McCallum slate, as well as some true legends, like the great John Cleese, who is slated to return to the McCallum for two shows on Feb. 13.

“When I’m booking shows, what I’m thinking most about is: What will the McCallum audience enjoy? What will engage the McCallum audience?” Gershenfeld said. “With John Cleese, I just wanted to meet the guy. I’m a Monty Python fan; I’ve been for years, and I just wanted to see if he was a nice guy, or if he was kind of, sort of a curmudgeon. First of all, he’s a very nice guy. Second of all, his career has been phenomenal. It’s not just Monty Python; it’s Fawlty Towers, which was an amazing television series, and then movies like A Fish Called Wanda. … He talks about his career. He has film clips and images and things like that, and it’s a really fascinating presentation. It’s sort of a lecture and sort of a standup comedy set. He’s a fascinating, fascinating guy.”

The 2020-2021 season includes the return of series that McCallum audiences have come to love over the years, including Keyboard Confessions With Jeffrey Siegel, Mitch’s Picks—a slate of unheralded acts for which Gershenfeld personally vouches—and, for the third year, National Geographic Live!

“You’ve got these journalists and photographers from National Geographic, and they have these extraordinary images and videos that they go to all kinds of crazy lengths to get,” Gershenfeld said. “… They do a Q&A with the audience. This is a real family-oriented kind of program. It’s great for kids, and it’s always something interesting.”

All five performers in the Mitch’s Picks series are making their McCallum headlining debuts, starting with Harlem 100 Featuring Mwenso and The Shakes, a multi-media concert celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance, on Nov. 21; and concluding with … something called Puddles Pity Party on March 5.

Puddles Pity Party?

“He’s this 7-foot clown who has this amazing voice and does this really wonderful theatrical presentation,” Gershenfeld said. “He’ll sing opera but will also sing Ozzy Osborne songs. He’s a silent clown except when he sings. He doesn’t speak, but like the great silent clowns of the past, like Emmett Kelly and those, he will make a story arc out of his show. It becomes like a theatrical presentation.”

Dammit, coronavirus, back off. Palm Desert needs Puddles Pity Party next year!

For the complete McCallum Theatre 2020-2021 schedule, or to buy tickets, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Gina Nestande is the mayor of Palm Desert. She wants Gov. Gavin Newsom to open things up and let us all get back to work. She expressed this opinion in a piece published online yesterday—a piece that has gotten a fair amount of attention since.

Sounds fairly straight forward, right? Nope. No no no no.

Let’s break things down a bit, shall we?

Before we get into the specifics of Ms. Nestande’s argument, I want to talk a little bit about the forum she used to make it. If you haven’t already, please, click on this link. Look around just a little. Take it all in.

I hadn’t heard much about FlashReport.org before this, and I must say, I have become an instant fan. I am not sure what my favorite part is. The the circa-2005 HTML design? The section unironically headlined “Oversight of Czar Newsom”? The tile ad toward the top left of the page for a state Assembly candidate … from 2016?

But I digress; let’s look at Nestande’s actual argument. In both the original piece and a subsequent TV interview, Nestande makes several fascinating points, including the fact that we could eliminate 40,000 car-accident deaths per year “if we mandated that cars be built with one-foot bumpers all around the outside and fitted with a roll bar cage on the inside, with a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour.”

And then there’s this: “We reacted to the ‘worst case” scenarios in which hospitals would run out of beds and ventilators, placing up to 2.2 million lives in jeopardy. In reality, as of April 18, there have been just over 38,000 deaths. The data is clear that this doomsday scenario is not taking place and it is time to pivot.” (Only one problem here: She fails to acknowledge the possibility that the doomsday scenario isn’t taking place because of shelter-in-place orders.)

The main crux of her argument, however, is that because of the Stanford study—the first one showing that, based on antibody tests, a lot more people may have already been infected with COVID-19 than initially believed—we now know the virus really is not that dangerous. You know, despite the overwhelmed hospitals in China and Italy and New York and etc.

“We now know that we can mitigate the disease by focusing on the elderly and those with obesity. Other populations can and should go back to work,” she writes, citing another study.

Ah, if only things were this simple.

First: Regular readers of this space know that all studies need to be taken, as the saying goes, with a gigantic grain of salt. That obesity study—while it is backed up by anecdotal evidence, and may very well be proven true—“is preliminary, and not peer reviewed,” according to The New York Times.

Second: That Stanford study Nestande speaks so glowingly about is also preliminary, and not peer reviewed—and so far, the reviews peers are giving it are NOT GOOD. A lot of stats nerds—I say that lovingly, being one (on an amateur basis) myself—are calling into question the figures and conclusions of the study.

Then there’s the interpretation of the results themselves, even if we assume they’re accurate. Check out this, from the San Jose Mercury News:

Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Jeff Smith remains steadfast in his interpretation of the study’s findings: It suggests that asymptomatic people spread the virus, and that more than 95% of the population remains susceptible to infection.

“That all means that there is more risk than we initially were aware of,” said Smith, lamenting how some are using the study to challenge Bay Area health officials’ unprecedented stay-home orders.

Look, I want things to be open again, safely, as much as anyone. But when Gina Nestande claims that we can open things back up again because, more or less, Stanford scientists said we could, she’s either being dumb, or she’s being disingenuous. You decide.

Today’s links:

The Los Angeles Times has done a fantastic yet sad piece on the conditions at the infamous Oasis Mobile Home Park in Thermal, where clean drinking water is hard to come by—and the farmworker residents are living in fear.

• The county has allowed golf courses to reopen for limited use. However, Palm Springs has not. The city will ponder the issue, and other issues involving outdoor activities, at a meeting on Thursday.

• I actually have mixed feelings about this one: Facebook has confirmed it is removing some posts regarding protests against stay-at-home orders.

• A new analysis shows that much of the loan money from the first stimulus bill went to publicly traded companies—NOT small businesses. Grrrrrr.

• This interesting opinion piece posted by NPR looks at the future of cities in a post-COVID-19 world.

The New York Times Magazine looks at efforts—past, present and future—to stop pandemics before they get started. One word on why we’re in the mess we’re in right now: Money.

• Local visual artists, take note: Desert X is offering grants of $1,000 to some Southern California artists in need.

• The city of La Quinta is offering $1.5 million in loans to small businesses.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has recommended against the drug combination—hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin—touted by the president.

• Please be careful when doing unusual things with bleach. Poison control calls are on the rise.

• And now for something completely different: The New York Post sets out to answer the question (via Australian doctors, because, why the hell not) that nobody was asking: Can the coronavirus be spread via farts?

• Enough of this nonsense. Let’s all go watch Stanley Tucci make a negroni.

That’s enough for today. If you want to take part in our Adopt a Small Business program, the deadline for our May print issue is Thursday morningOur Coloring Book is selling like (sanitarily packaged, takeout-ordered) hotcakes; get yours here. (We’ll be sending out the digital links tomorrow!) Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you absolutely must go out. More tomorrow.

All I can say is that I hope everything goes well with the various “reopening” maneuvers that are taking place around the country.

Really. I hope Texas’ plans to start reopening businesses this week is not met by a serious COVID-19 uptick. Same goes for Georgia’s plans. Closer to home, I hope Ventura County discovers everything is hunky dory after it allows some businesses to reopen, as well as groups of five or more to gather again. And here in the Coachella Valley, if golf courses are indeed allowed to reopen tomorrow, I hope that causes no ill effects.

Yes, and I really, really hope Dr. Anthony Fauci is wrong when he says all of this could backfire horribly.

Oh, one other thing: I hope all of these moves to quickly reopen aren’t being driven by the protests that have taken place in recent days … because these protesters really shouldn’t be given much attention.

While the protests have gotten a lot of ink, pixels and airtime in various media sources, they won’t here. Here’s why: They’re not worth the ink, pixels and airtime. God bless these protesters, who have every right to exercise their First Amendment rights (although depending on the locale, they could and perhaps should be ticketed for violating orders regarding masks and social distancing, but I digress). But their numbers have been small, for the most part—and they’re definitely not speaking for the majority of us.

As CNN points out, recent polls show that the vast majority of us—more than 80 percent of Americans—believe stay-at-home orders are a good idea. You know how hard it is to get 80 percent of the country to agree on ANYTHING these days? Yet here we are.

Still … I am being genuine when I say I hope that these tentative reopening steps go well. The sooner we open things back up safely, the better. However, the key word there is “safely.” And if these openings go well, it will be despite the experts’ warnings and overwhelming public option. In other words, it’ll be due to dumb luck.

But, hey, this country is due some dumb luck. Right?

Today’s links:

• From the Independent: The news out of most small businesses in the valley is dire—but such is not the case for a La Quinta record store, whose owner picked the perfect time to go online. In the latest piece in our Pandemic Stories series, get to know Matt Lehman of Finders Thrift and Vinyl/Spatula City Records.

• Yet another study, this one out of Los Angeles County, shows that if antibody tests are accurate, a stunning number of people have already been infected with COVID-19—and didn’t know it.

• New York Magazine examines the baffling battle between hospitals and the Trump administration for needed personal protective equipment.

• The New York Times talks to a bunch of experts about the country’s immediate-intermediate future. Warning: It’s alarming.

• OK, after that bit of horror, here’s a salve, also from the NYT: You can calm down, just a little, about the chance the coronavirus will get you by lurking on the surfaces of clothes, newspaper, mail and the like.

• If you’re not one of the 2 million-plus people who’ve seen it already, you should know the fourth episode of John Krasinski’s Some Good News puts on a prom.

• While you’re on YouTube: The valley’s very own Pom Squad offers up this video for people in assisted living or in nursing homes—or those of us of all ages who are stuck at home.

• Here’s the latest on the whole pets and COVID-19 matter, from The Conversation. The short version: Yes, pets can get the virus, but you probably don’t have much to worry about.

• Speaking of pets: Some dogs in the UK are being trained to test whether humans have COVID-19 by using their sense of smell. Yes, really.

• The local American Outreach Foundation has started a petition for the federal government to support health-care workers who die from COVID-19.

That’s all for today. Buy our Coloring Book—and support the Independent, the CREATE Center for the Arts and the participating artists themselves while doing so! Or consider adopting a small business and giving them the gift of some dirt-cheap yet extremely valuable Independent advertising! Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you must go out. Be safe. More tomorrow.

So … I was a little cranky yesterday, as regular readers of this Daily Digest know.

Today, well, I am still cranky. I’d explain why, but part of it involves a boring story about a loan application that was rejected, apparently due to a glitch on the lender’s end, and when I called to figure out what happened, after a half-hour of gibberish, I was told I needed to call the Small Business Administration, even though the SBA has nothing to do with glitches on the lender’s end.

It was right then and there that I almost started day-drinking. Almost.

Anyway, in an effort to improve my mood, and perhaps yours, I am going to focus on some truly positive news that came out today. But before I do, I must present the usual caveats: Remember, science/study news these days is coming out quickly, often before it’s vetted, peer reviewed, etc. So, don’t get too excited about any of these things, OK?

First: Early study results regarding one of the drugs being investigated as a possible COVID-19 treatment are really, really encouraging. About the drug remdesivir, made by California company Gilead Sciences, CNN reports: “The patients taking part in a clinical trial of the drug have all had severe respiratory symptoms and fever, but were able to leave the hospital after less than a week of treatment, STAT quoted the doctor leading the trial as saying.”

Second: We’ve heard over and over that it’s going to take at least a year—at least being the key words—for a vaccine to be available. While that will likely be the case for most of us, according to various news sources, it’s possible, just maybe, that one or more could be available in about six months or so—perhaps even sooner—at least for high-risk groups.

Third: Preliminary antibody studies are coming out indicating that a lot more people may have been infected with COVID-19 than previously believed. Now, this is more of a mixed bag than strictly good news. If true, on one hand, it means a huge number of people who have the virus—and, therefore, can spread the virus to others—never know it, and that creates all sorts of challenges. On the other hand, it means this disease is less lethal, percentage-wise, than previously believed. And if—IF—people who’ve had COVID-19 are immune for some period of time (which is something we do not know yet), that means we’re closer to some sort of herd immunity.

Fourth: Testing is becoming ever-more available in Riverside County. According to the county: “Riverside County residents who do not have symptoms but want to be tested for coronavirus will now be able to after health officials modified the guidelines for testing.” 

Fifth: What we’re doing now is working. Palm Springs Mayor Geoff Kors posted today: “Thank you to everyone, you have helped us begin to flatten the curve. In Riverside County, the doubling rate for new infections has slowed from every 4.7 days two weeks ago to every seven days. In Palm Springs, the doubling rate for new infections is now approximately every three weeks. This is a major change from the a few weeks ago when we were designated as a ‘hot spot.’”

So … as we head into the weekend, there are a lot of reasons for optimism.

Today’s links:

• More good news: Our partners at CalMatters bring us this story about the fact that many of us are looking out for each other during this crisis—perhaps more than ever before.

• Gov. Gavin Newsom has put together a task force with some big names to help California recover from this recession we suddenly find ourselves in.

Work continues to fix the complete mess that is the SBA loan situation.

• The Hill reports that one soon-to-be-published study indicates that social distancing is actually much, much better for our economy than more deaths would be.

• Our friends at Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services asked us to share this info: “CVSAS has collaborated with Palm Desert Riverside County Sheriff's Department to host a First Responders/Healthcare Providers Appreciation Procession. This event is to acknowledge the heroes working on the front-lines during this global pandemic. We will be meeting in the Albertson's parking lot located in Country Club Village at: 40101 Monterrey Ave. Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 at 7 p.m. sharp on Tuesday, April 21. … We are asking that you bring a blue light to shine from your car in honor of them as we follow law enforcement through Eisenhower. We are still following all rules and regulations regarding wearing face masks. … Please RSVP via email by Monday, April 20, at noon to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

• A cautionary tale: An NFL player who has tested positive for COVID-19 swears he did everything right … and still caught the virus.

• Only in Florida, where some public officials are inexplicably reopening beaches, could surfing be considered an “essential activity.”

• Yes, real estate transactions are still taking place during the shutdown … but the whole home-buying/selling process has gone through some changes. Jeff Hammerberg of GayRealEstate.com offers this primer.

• You know how talk shows that normally have live audiences seem uncomfortably weird without laughter? The Conversation explains why a laugh track is important.

• I have never been a huge Guy Fieri fan, but these upcoming “takeout” versions of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” sound pretty gosh-darned cool.

• The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert has launched “Discover at Home” activities on its social media … such as a gazpacho recipe for junior home cooks!

That’s all for today. Hey, our Coloring Book is officially on sale! We’ll start getting the books into hands, both physically and virtually next week; here are the details. If you can spare some cash, and value the independent local journalism this publication provides, for free to all, please consider becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Watch CVIndependent.com over the weekend for updates and more; the Daily Digest will return Monday. In the meantime, wash your hands; wear a mask when you absolutely must go out; and stay safe. We’re well on our way to the other side!

Today was the day my sadness turned to anger.

I don’t know if this is a stages-of-grief thing, or whether it was just the news of the day, or maybe a little bit of both. Whatever the cause, after weeks of feeling more sadness than anything else regarding the pandemic, today, I’m pissed.

The thing that set me off was the news that after a few short weeks, all of the small-business-loan stimulus loan money is gone, at least for now. That’s $349 billion, so long, goodbye. The $10 billion in disaster loans is gone, too.

Then there is the news that hedge funds—yes, hedge funds—are applying for and getting some of this money—money, that according to the name of the program, is supposed to protect paychecks.

“Ironically, hedge funds are designed to employ as few people as possible so star traders don’t have to share millions of dollars in fees. The industry gets its name from the premise it can generate gains even when markets fall,” says the Bloomberg news story.

It’s also worth remembering that the president fired the inspector general who was supposed to watch over all this money, among other moves the executive branch made to limit oversight of how this taxpayer money was being spent.

Then I read a story about the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, which has 5,000 employees, getting $20 million in Paycheck Protection Program money. Wait … wasn’t the Paycheck Protection Program supposed to help smaller businesses?

“The loans were intended for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but language in the $2 trillion stimulus bill allows restaurants and hotel chains to participate regardless of how many people they employ,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, many local restaurant owners I know are wailing on social media that they haven’t received a dime yet.

Folks, the virus is bad enough. The fact that first our president fired the pandemic response team a couple years ago, then constantly downplayed the threat before it was too late, and is now doing everything in his power to lessen oversight of an unbelievably shitty and ineffective stimulus bill has me livid.

People are scared and dying. Businesses are dying. Meanwhile, instead of trying to ease fears or show empathy for his sick and/or frightened constituents, Donald Trump is tweeting falsehoods about political rivals and continuing his assaults on the media.

It doesn’t matter what your politics are—the ineptitude of the federal government should have everyone furious right now.

Today’s links:

• Earlier today, before my mood when to crap, I was again was part of the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast with Dr. Laura Rush, with guest David Perry. Thankfully, Dr. Rush is optimistic about things.

• Remember what we said earlier about federal-government ineptitude? That, alas, extends to the Treasury Department and the IRS regarding getting stimulus funds to a whole lot of people who need help.

• Remember what we said earlier about federal government ineptitude … again? Check out this quote, from The Washington Post, about the effort to find effective treatments in the U.S.: “It’s a cacophony—it’s not an orchestra. There’s no conductor. My heart aches over the complete chaos in the response.”

• As if this wasn’t all scary enough, it appears COVID-19 is causing serious neurological problems in some people, according to this pants-wetting article from Wired.

• Oh great! Time Magazine reports that other countries’ militaries are messing around with us at this time when the U.S. is focusing on the coronavirus.

• Oh great! The rate of testing in the country is actually slowing down, according to Politico—even though commercial labs aren’t at full capacity.

• In California, like much of the rest of the country, COVID-19 is taking a disproportionately large toll on African-Americans.

Chef Thomas Keller has been one of the leading voices in the fight to get insurance companies to pay restaurants who have business-interruption insurance. Here’s his direct take, via NBC News.

• OK, let’s take a happier turn toward some hopeful signs: Some neighboring counties plan to start letting some businesses reopen later next month, per the Los Angeles Times.

• A recent update from Eisenhower Health shares good news on the medical side, and not-so-good news on the financial side.

• Armistead Maupin, the San Francisco author whose Tales of the City have delighted people for decades, is reading stories from his new home in London several times per week.

That’s all we have for today. Please make sure your virtual events are included in our online calendar. If you can spare a few bucks, and value independent, quality local journalism, please consider becoming a supporter of the Independent, since we’re clearly not getting any small-business loans anytime soon. Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you go out into public. Be safe. Back tomorrow.

Today is Jackie Robinson Day, the anniversary of Robinson taking the field in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947—shattering the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Robinson’s uniform number, 42, was retired throughout Major League Baseball back in 1997, with one exception: On April 15, every player wears the No. 42.

For all sorts of reasons, Jackie Robinson Day means a lot to me. Robinson is the main reason I became a baseball fan (and a Dodgers fan); at one point in elementary school, I was assigned to read a biography, and somehow, I wound up with Jackie Robinson. I was inspired—and Jackie Robinson has been a hero of mine ever since. In fact, a poster with Jackie’s photo, with the definition of the word “courage,” hangs just to the right of the unbelievably cluttered desk at my home office.

cour•age n. 1. The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. 2. Valor.

Of course, Jackie Robinson Day can be celebrated only virtually today, because there is no baseball in this country on this April 15.

Please forgive me for feeling a bit sad right now. I am keeping things in proper mental perspective. Take, for example, what Jackie Robinson had to endure on a daily basis back in 1947, when he was literally risking his life to play baseball—and carrying the burden of knowing that if he failed, either on the field or off, he could potentially set back a whole movement. Me? I merely have to stay at home for a while, wear a mask when I have to go somewhere, and tighten the budget belt for a bit.

That’s what my mind says. But my heart aches due to the fact that there’s no baseball on Jackie Robinson Day, nor will there be anytime in the immediate future. (The same goes for a lot of things, of course.)

For now, I’ll suck it up, maybe cry a little, and remember that definition of courage: the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

Here are today’s links:

• You know those antibody tests that are starting to appear? They’re not necessarily reliable right now. The nice way of putting it: “They’re a work in progress.”

• From the Independent: Anita Rufus points out that not only should you consider setting up an advance directive (living will) if you don’t have one; if you do have one, you may want to revisit it, given what we now know about COVID-19.

• Also from the Independent: Our Kevin Carlow encourages you to cut down on food waste by pickling or otherwise preserving vegetables before they go bad. And yes, you can even use the ends, stems and skins that you’d normally throw away.

• Speaking of vegetables, all of this uncertainty is leading people to start growing their own food.

• The state is taking better steps to get help to people who have not yet gotten their unemployment, plus independent contractors and undocumented immigrants, according to Gov. Newsom.

• The Washington Post reports on the strategy being developed by FEMA and the CDC to begin reopening the country. Take from it what you will.

• So … the president apparently insists on having his name on the physical stimulus checks being sent to people, even if it delays them being sent by a few days. Now, where did I put that bourbon?

Some government agencies are not being as open with information as they should be during this damned pandemic. This is a very bad thing.

• Now this, actually, would not be a bad thing, if 1) true and 2) it’s shown that most infected people have at least temporary immunity: One study suggests that there may be 10 times more COVID-19 cases in California than the number being reported. However, a lot of smart people don’t buy this conclusion.

• You know that thing going around on social media where people post their high school pics and say where and when they graduated, ostensibly to support current high school seniors who won’t get proper senior years and graduations? Uh, well, you probably shouldn’t do that.

• Rolling Stone looks in depth at the deep damage the pandemic is doing to the live-music world.

• Damn, the lockdown is even driving Martha Stewart to get hammered.

• The city of Palm Springs has set up a hotline for people to report violations of various COVID-19-related rules.

• OK, let’s get to some happier stuff, shall we? For starters, the Los Angeles Times offers up this list of 13 things you can do to stay sane during this highly annoying time.

• Jake Tapper has a Twitter-thread story that starts awful, but has a hopeful, happy ending.

• Finally, I find this oddly reassuring, even though they never, ever should have budged on “over” being an OK substitute for “more than”: The Associated Press Stylebook now has guidance on COVID-19.

That’s enough for today. Wash your hands. Submit your virtual events to our online calendar. Please help us continue to do local, quality journalism, free to all, by becoming a Supporter of the Independent if you have the means to do so. Wear a mask when you must go out in public—if not because it’s the right thing to do, then because someone may call the city of Palm Springs and report your irresponsible self. More tomorrow.

Another work day has passed without me getting any work done.

Actually … that’s not accurate—in fact, other than a break for my physical therapy appointment, I’ve been toiling at my desk all darned day. So let me restate: Another work day has passed without me getting any newspapering done.

I have at least a half-dozen stories in the figurative hopper to edit and post. I have a couple of calls to make for a story I am working on myself. I need to start laying out the Coachella Valley Independent Coloring Book—which is going to be unbelievably cool, by the way—so we can put it on sale Friday. And I have some stuff on the sales-side I need to do, especially since the deadline for our May print edition is sneaking up next week. (Hey, wanna buy an ad? Drop me a line.)

But other than that pathetic parenthetical sales pitch to conclude that last paragraph, and this Daily Digest, no newspapering got done today. Instead, I participated in a conference all with other publishers on how they’re dealing with this mess. I tried, without success, to figure out how in the hell to finish applying for an SBA loan. And I spent a whole lot of time applying for more grants.

I speak for all other small-business owners trying to keep the lights on during this mess when I say: Bleh.

So … tomorrow, I have decided, I will ignore loan applications for a day. I will eschew all conference calls. And I will just edit and write and layout and sell and yay.

One other thing I’ll do: I’ll count my blessings. I know I am one of the lucky ones. I am healthy; I am safe; I have purpose; I have a fridge full of food. If you’re feeling annoyed, or down, or frustrated, I recommend you take stock, and think of the blessings you have.

Also, as we’ve said before in this space: We’re going to get through this. It’s going to take longer than any of us would like, and a complete return to a COVID-19-free existence is probably going to take much longer than any of us would like. But we’re in the midst of what should be the worst of it right now, and we’re at least surviving, right?

Hang in there, folks. And watch CVIndependent.com and this space for all sorts of excellent copy tomorrow.

Today’s links:

• The big news of the day: Gov. Newsom laid out his vague, no-timeline-yet “road to recovery” for the state. It’s vague, and it’s depressing, and a lot of things need to happen, but take some solace in the fact that we’re at least able to talk about steps toward reopening California. Right?

• The other big news of the day: The president says he’s going to halt U.S. funding of the World Health Organization. Yes, he’s doing this in the middle of a pandemic. No, nothing makes sense anymore.

Stimulus deposits are starting to show up in bank accounts. If yours hasn’t arrived yet, CNN explains when you can expect it, and how you can check on its status.

• Oh, and because things are terrible, the feds aren’t stopping banks and debt collectors from seizing those stimulus checks.

• This is sort of a worst-case scenario, so take this with a large grain of salt: This social distancing crap could last until 2022 if we don’t develop a vaccine. Or an effective treatment. Or etc.

The Los Angeles Times talked to a UCLA epidemiologist and infectious-disease expert about the prospects of reopening California. It’s an interesting piece, with this key takeaway: “Evolutionarily speaking, it’s to the virus’ benefit to mutate where it’s even more contagious but less deadly ‘because it doesn’t do the virus any good to kill its human host to be able to transmit.’” So, we should root for mutations, I guess?

• Example No. 138,936 of how truly little we know about this damned coronavirus: It appears that simply positioning some patients on their stomachs rather than their backs can make a big difference in recovery success.

• Example No. 138,937 of how truly little we know about this damned coronavirus: We don’t even know how far COVID-19 can travel in “aerosolized droplets.” Two thoughts: 1) Sigh. 2). Ew.

• Some local small-business news: Lulu California Bistro, one of the valley’s biggest restaurants, will be open for takeout business starting Thursday. And to raise funds to support employees, the Mary Pickford Theatre in Cathedral City will be selling popcorn and other movie-theater treats on Friday and Saturday for pickup.

• The Conversation brings us this piece from an Oberlin professor of sociology pointing out that the pandemic may prove to be fatal to many communities’ gay bars.

• Speaking of depressing-if-unsurprising news for the LGBT community: San Francisco Pride has officially been cancelled.

Major League Baseball is participating in a study that will test up to 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies—but this is just for science, and won’t help the game return any faster, according to ESPN.

• This has nothing to do with COVID-19 at all, but screw it: Here’s how to make shot glasses out of bacon and chocolate.

That’s all for now. Submit your online event info to our calendar here. Thank you to all of you who have become Supporters of the Independent recently; if you’d like to join them in helping us to continue doing what we do, find details here. Wash your hands. Wear a mask when you absolutely must leave home. More tomorrow!

Yesterday in this space, we discussed the fact that you should take whatever you read regarding the science of COVID-19 with a grain of salt—because things are moving so fast right now.

“We will indeed get to answers eventually—because an unprecedented number of very smart people are working on this problem, and science is an amazing thing,” I wrote.

Well … the same thing goes for speculation about the timing of things.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re all getting tired of the stay-at-home order. I think it’s also safe to say that we’re going to have to deal with the order for more than a few weeks longer. But beyond that … I don’t think anything is safe to say.

Why? We just don’t know a whole hell of a lot about this virus yet. We don’t know what treatments may emerge. We don’t know how widely available accurate testing—of antibodies and for the virus itself—will be in six weeks, six months, etc. We really know very little about COVID-19.

And you know what? This lack of knowledge really, really sucks. We all want this to be over, and the lack of an end date we can all look forward to is annoying as heck.

Several articles were making the rounds earlier today that focused in on a statement made during a New York Times audio roundtable by a bioethicist and professor named Zeke Emanuel. Emanuel said that large gatherings like concerts and sporting events would be the last “normal” things to return, and then  dropped this nugget: “Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”

Now THAT is depressing. And you know what? There’s a very good chance that we may not see the return of the largest events until the fall of 2021.

But … with all due respect to Mr. Emanuel, he doesn’t know enough to make a pronouncement using the terms “realistically” and “at the earliest.” Nobody does.

We all need to prepare ourselves, as best we can, for the worst. But we also need to avoid falling into depressive holes because of some thing some expert said—especially when, upon further examination, the thing that expert said is demonstrably unverifiable, unknowable.

There’s so much we don’t know. But we’re learning a little more each day, and literally the entire world is working on this problem. For now, we need to take solace in that.

Today’s links:

• The big news of the day: Gov. Newsom is going to work with the governors of Oregon and Washington on a plan to reopen the West Coast. He said we’d get some preliminary details tomorrow—but don’t expect hard dates.

• The city of Palm Springs says it’s now mandatory to wear masks at essential businesses. The county had already issued such a mandate, but this move makes it easier for code enforcement and law enforcement to force compliance.

• One of the most important questions in determining how we move forward, according to the World Health Organization, remains unanswered: It’s still unclear whether COVID-19 survivors are immune to the disease going forward.

• From our partners at CalMatters via the Independent: While the stay-at-home order has drastically decreased air pollution across the state—and world—scientists are concerned about an apparent link between long-term exposure to pollution and a higher coronavirus risk.

• The state insurance commissioner has ordered companies to issue premium discounts for at least a couple monthsbecause, for example, fewer cars on roads means fewer costly accidents.

• The first saliva-based test for COVID-19 has received a thumbs-up from the government.

• A whole lot of educators are concerned that the closure of schools is going to set students back.

• The Trump administration has asked for more time to complete the 2020 Census.

Is a furniture store an essential business? Mathis Bros. has decided the answer is “yes,” and has apparently reopened its stores.

• I’ve sang the praises of The Conversation in this space before, and I’m gonna do it again, because where else could you read an understandable academic analysis of why porn use is on the rise (pun intended) (sorry) during the pandemic?

• If you love art, take note: Many galleries are offering “online exhibitions,” including Palm Desert’s CODA Gallery, which is currently highlighting the raku ceramics of Karen Shapiro.

That’s all for now. Submit your online events to our calendar! Tomorrow is the final, final deadline for submissions to our coloring book project—and participating artists get a cut of the sales, which are slated to start later this week! Please, if you’re able, send us a few bucks to help is continue doing local, independent journalism. Oh, and wash your hands, and wear a mask when you absolutely must leave the house. Back tomorrow.

You know how eggs used to be good for you? And then they were bad for you? And now they’re good for you again? Sort of?

Well, that kind of confusion is happening with all sorts of “knowledge” surrounding COVID-19—but in hyper-speed due to the worldwide urgency for answers, and then with a whole lot of social-media misinformation thrown in.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, as we’ve all seen generally reliable sources issue conflicting reports on ibuprofen, and then hydroxychloroquine, and most recently the possibility that COVID-19 may have arrived in California earlier than first believed. I was thinking of writing a piece about this … and then I ran across this article, by Irving Steinberg, the dean for faculty at USC School of Pharmacy, in The Conversation—an online publication I’ve long enjoyed, and appreciate now more than ever due to its constantly excellent scientific coronavirus coverage. Since Mr. Steinberg did a far better job than I would have, I encourage you to go read the piece—no, really. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.

Welcome back!

Because Steinberg didn’t touch on it, I do want to briefly examine the conflicting sources regarding the matter of the coronavirus’ arrival in California.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece from a Monterey Bay-area TV station citing a Stanford-linked study into the possibility that COVID-19 first arrived here in the fall. We linked to the story in that day’s Daily Digest. I’d re-link to the San Francisco Chronicle piece … but that link no longer works, interestingly enough. So instead, here’s a link to the piece cached on Google.

One possible reason that link may have disappeared: This piece on Slate, released on Friday, with the headline “No, You Did Not Get COVID-19 in the Fall of 2019.” The piece does a pretty good job of debunking the aforementioned piece. So, case closed. Right?

Uh … well, no. Because yesterday, one of the top pieces in the Los Angeles Times was this, with the online headline: “New signs suggest coronavirus was in California far earlier than anyone knew.” The story points out evidence the virus may have arrived in California in January, and perhaps as early as December, and cites ongoing studies into that question.

So we have three different pieces, from three generally reliable sources, published over four days, coming to decidedly different conclusions.

My point: Take whatever you read regarding the science of COVID-19 with a grain of salt … a large grain of salt, like the size of the boulder. And take solace in the fact that we will indeed get to answers eventually—because an unprecedented number of very smart people are working on this problem, and science is an amazing thing.

Today’s links:

• The latest in the Independent’s Pandemic Stories series looks at how the Academy of Musical Performance, the renowned program for young local musicians, has adjusted to the reality of the stay-at-home order.

Burning Man 2020 has been cancelled—but organizers are going to do their best to launch a virtual festival.

If you’re missing the Palm Springs Art Museum, the folks there are doing the best to bring the museum to you during this weird time. Check out Artworks of the Week and various activities here.

• This one’s depressing: The New York Times did an expansive piece on how the closure of restaurants, schools and hotels has meant a whole lot of fresh food is going to waste.

• While I think this piece, which has gone viral (no pun intended), is slightly overwrought, it makes some great points: Julio Vincent Gambuto makes the case that we need to be aware of efforts to manipulate us once things begin to get back “to normal.”

• I found this piece oddly assuring: NPR talked to the experts, and they say that you don’t need to disinfect your groceries—but you do need to be careful while shopping.

• Here’s more information on the status of home-testing kits for the coronavirus. The takeaway, yet again: They are not yet a thing, so if you see anyone offering them, don’t buy it—literally.

• Far too many big companies still refuse to offer sick pay—and these days, that’s a really big freaking problem.

• The virus is leading to some supply chain problems, such as the closure of this large pork-processing plant. Gulp.

• Let’s end on a happy note: Beloved SF bookstore City Lights put out a call for financial help, and people responded in a big way.

That’s it for today. Submit works for our coloring book before Tuesday! Let the world know about your virtual events via our online calendar! If you can possibly do so, please consider offering the Independent financial support, so we can keep doing the quality local journalism you know and love. Wash your hands, and have a great week … well, as great as you can from home.