Indy Digest: Jan. 3, 2022
As we said goodbye to 2021 over the weekend, the overwhelming sentiment expressed regarding the year gone by was: Good riddance!
Indeed, there was a lot of bad in 2021. The mess of Jan. 6, global warming, massive wildfires, the never-ending pandemic, etc., etc. However … I think 2021 is getting a bit of an unfair shake—because the year brought a whole lot of good, too.
Since we’ve been reporting a ton of bad news in this space as of late—and we inevitably will be reporting a lot more bad news here as omicron continues to run amok—I’d like to take a few pixels to remind everyone of some of the good that 2021 brought to us:
• The vaccines. One of the greatest scientific and logistical efforts in the history of mankind got life-sparing shots in hundreds of millions of arms in the United States. Yeah, there are a lot of anti-vaxxers out there who are messing some things up, but there are far more people in the U.S. who DID get vaccinated. As of Dec. 26, 68.5 percent of the people in Riverside County District 4 were fully vaccinated. Almost all of those vaccinations happened in 2021.
• We were able to gather together again. The year started with the state of California under a stay-at-home order, and ended with omicron—but in between, the theaters reopened. The sports stadiums welcomed back fans. Schools opened doors for in-person learning. Some big local events (like Greater Palm Springs Pride, the Modernism Week Fall Preview and the Indio International Tamale Festival) returned.
• Travel returned. So much so, in fact, that the Palm Springs International Airport keeps breaking passenger-count records.
• As scary as the events of Jan. 6 were … the insurrection failed. As author Aja Raden noted on Twitter earlier today: “Was it scary? Yes. But like all great American action movies cowardly villains were defeated by braver, better women and men. … And not only did they lose, most of them were so stupid or arrogant that they brought their cell phones and the FBI spent the last year tracking them down. And impatient though we may be for big busts, those arrests have led the FBI to whole networks of white supremacists deranged militias and nests and networks of domestic terrorists.”
• Congress passed one of the most significant infrastructure packages in modern history.
I could keep listing things here, but I think you get the point. The year 2021, like all years, was a mixed bag. And here’s hoping that in 2022, that bag has more good in it than bad.
From the Independent
By Bob Grimm
January 3, 2022
After the pandemic ruined many of 2020’s film releases, the movie world had a blessed rebound in 2021.
Patience Is a Virtue: Earthless Brings Longform Psychedelic Rock and a New, Two-Song EP to Pappy and Harriet’s
By Matt King
December 30, 2021
Earthless is heading on a tour to promote the band’s new two-song full-length album—including a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Saturday, Jan. 29.
January Astronomy: The Month Offers Lots of Moon-Planet Pairings—and a Rare Chance to View Venus as a Crescent
By Robert Victor
December 31, 2021
Venus is very bright in January—so bright, in fact, you can see it during the daytime.
By Bill Frost
January 3, 2022
A surprising number of films from the past are set in 2022.
December 30, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include cinder blocks, Scrooge, charbroiled tofurkey, the minimum wage—and much more!
By Matt King
December 31, 2021
Get to know musician Wes Gainey, who also books the entertainment at Coachella Valley Brewing Co.
• Yet more businesses are closing due to the huge spike in COVID-19 cases thanks to omicron. The Purple Room has announced it will be closed for two weeks out of an abundance of caution. Social media has been abuzz about various area Starbucks closing due to a lack of staff. For the next two to three weeks, before you go anywhere to do anything, it may be best to call ahead.
• While local COVID-19 case counts are skyrocketing, hospitalizations are also on the rise. As Kevin Duncliffe notes on Twitter, 98 COVID-19 patients were being treated in the three Coachella Valley hospitals as of yesterday. That’s 28 more than a week ago. The New York Times’ hospitalization tracker shows that Desert Regional Medical Center’s ICU is over capacity. The moral of this story: Be safe out there, folks.
• Our friends at the Palm Springs Post tell the story behind the free, walk-up COVID-19 testing effort that regularly takes place near the Smoke Tree Village shopping center in Palm Springs: “(Joshua) Berk’s testing site is aligned with a medical group more experienced with pain management and addiction treatment than infectious disease. The entire Palm Springs operation fits in the trunk of a car. So you wouldn’t blame anyone for questioning its legitimacy. But the test results are real and valid, done by a laboratory in Houston, and the nonprofit behind the effort, SOSYES.org, is in good standing with the California Secretary of State. ‘There was nothing here that was free and easy,’ Berk said, explaining why the nonprofit, based in San Diego, expanded to Palm Springs. Test status usually arrives in the form of a text or email within 48 hours of testing at the East Palm Canyon Drive site. And while results may not be delivered as quickly as some hope, the testing itself takes only minutes. Berk simply pops the cap off a tube, collects saliva for a PCR test, and overnights the tube to the Houston lab.”
• The FDA has paved the way for teens age 12 to 15 to get booster shots. CNBC explains: “The Food and Drug Administration on Monday expanded eligibility for Pfizer and BioNTech booster shots to children ages 12 to 15 years old, as school restarts after winter break amid a surge of COVID infections across the U.S. The FDA also shortened the time between the second Pfizer dose and the booster shot to five months, down from six months. People who received the two-dose Moderna vaccine are still supposed to get their booster at least six months after the second shot, while those who received Johnson and Johnson as their primary vaccine are eligible for a booster at least two months after their first shot.”
• Sort of related: The New York Times says that some immunocompromised people are getting fourth and even fifth vaccine shots—even though it’s technically against the rules. The gist: “The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in charge of determining when additional doses should be administered, but some patients and their doctors feel that federal agencies have acted too slowly to protect the most vulnerable. … Typically, doctors have discretion to use approved medications outside of their recommended uses—so a fully approved vaccine like Pfizer’s could normally be prescribed as doctors see fit. But, in order to receive and administer any COVID-19 vaccines, providers must sign a legal agreement with the CDC—meaning that if they break the agency’s rules, they risk being kicked out of the vaccination program and could face prosecution. The CDC also previously warned that providers administering unapproved shots may not have protection from patients’ legal claims if something goes wrong.”
• Our partners at CalMatters offer a preview of what to expect from the Legislature in 2022. Here’s the lede: “Another coronavirus variant spreading like wildfire, and another huge state budget surplus: In some ways, 2022 is off to a similar start as 2021. That could carry over to the state Legislature’s new session that starts today. In addition to the pandemic and surplus, California is dealing with some of the same big issues it has long grappled with—including housing and climate change. ‘Our challenges continue to be the challenges that we have started and built momentum to work towards,’ Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, told CalMatters. The difference? Looking at key issues more through a lens of equity, she said.”
• And finally … three researchers, writing for The Conversation, answer the question: “What will 2022 bring in the way of misinformation on social media?” Here are the headers for each of the researchers’ sections: “Absent regulation, misinformation will get worse“; “Growing divisions and cynicism”; and “Propaganda by another name.” Um, yikes!
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