Indy Digest: Sept. 30, 2021
Today is a very big day in the state of California, as far as the response to the pandemic is concerned.
The state is shifting from a phase of protection—marked by the implicit recognition that people had very little control over COVID-19—to one of action, underscoring that vaccines are free, widely available to most of the population and key to bringing the pandemic to a close. Ending today: California’s statewide eviction moratorium, its ban on power shutoffs and its expanded paid sick leave program. (Its ban on water shutoffs, also originally set to end today, was recently extended through Dec. 31.) Starting today: California health care workers must be fully vaccinated or face consequences.
The expiration of three key pandemic safety net programs comes a few weeks after benefits were cut off to 2.2 million of the 3 million Californians receiving some form of unemployment insurance. And although protections remain—the state is rolling out $2 billion to help residents cover unpaid utility bills and $2.6 billion in rent relief—it may not be enough to keep people afloat. A recent National Equity Atlas analysis, for example, found that about 724,000 California households still owe $2.5 billion in rent.
The fact that the state is shifting its course regarding the pandemic is not surprising, because it really feels like as a society, we’ve largely moved on from the pandemic. Yes, most of us are still taking some precautions. Mask mandates are still in place, as are, in some places, vaccine mandates. And SARS-CoV-2 is very much still out there, making people sick—or worse.
But … well, everything’s open. Broadway’s back. Sports stadiums are at full capacity. Most schools are offering in-person learning again. As I’ve discussed in this space recently, almost all of the Coachella Valley’s big events are back on the calendar, and all the venues have reopened their doors.
The pandemic isn’t over. But it sure does feel like the state is fully and completely open—far more so than it did on June 15—and barring something VERY awful and unforeseen, it’s going to stay that way.
From the Independent
The XX Factor: Meet Marisa Estrada, aka Ritzy Periwinkle, a Palm Springs Businesswoman, Graphic Designer and Bad-Ass Podcaster
By Kay Kudukis
September 29, 2021
Palm Springs’ Marisa Estrada couldn’t find home-schoolers who thought and looked like her—and that eventually led to the Word to Your Mama podcast.
Overflow of Life: The Members of Middle Kids, Coming to Pappy and Harriet’s, Try to Stay Present, Live Life—and Create
By Matt King
September 28, 2021
The band Middle Kids pours real emotion and reflection into the music, which you can witness for yourself at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Thursday, Oct. 14.
The Venue Report, October 2021: Gladys Knight, Kevin Costner and Modern West, Dead Kennedys—and Much More!
By Matt King
September 29, 2021
A look at the varied concert and music events taking place in the Coachella Valley and high desert in October.
October Astronomy: Venus, Saturn and Jupiter Pair With the Moon in the Evenings, While mornings Belong to the Stars
By Robert Victor
September 30, 2021
A preview at the celestial offerings in the Coachella Valley in October 2021.
September 30, 2021
Topics tackled in this week’s comics page include resumes, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, medical-profession heroes, bikini-clad chimps, and much more!
A Note From the Editor: The Coachella Valley Is Fully Back to Life in October—Whether We’re Ready or Not
By Jimmy Boegle
September 29, 2021
October is busy in the Coachella Valley. VERY busy. Ready or not, here come the events!
• The newest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report (District 4 = the Coachella Valley and mostly rural areas to the east) indicates that cases are again on the decline locally—after a blip in the wrong direction the week before. The test positivity rate during the week ending Sept. 26 was 5.7 percent, down from 6.6 percent. Fingers crossed, hard, that the declines continue. A sobering note: At least three of our neighbors were killed by COVID-19 during the week.
• Cathedral City’s City Council last night voted to rescind the requirement that bar or restaurant customers show either proof or vaccination or a recent negative test to sit indoors. However, the city did extend its mask mandate through Oct. 31. The merits and smarts of those decisions can be debated. What can’t be debated is the fact that this statement by Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez, if reported properly by The Desert Sun, is bonkers: “The science behind (masks) is ridiculous. It’s absolutely untrue.” Gutierrez’s history of downplaying COVID-19 like this should be a concern to anyone who actually does believe in science.
• The extreme nastiness of the Delta-variant-driven COVID-19 wave will have a somewhat positive side effect: The people who survived it are going to have a whole lot of immunity against the disease. CNBC reports: “Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday he believes up to 90% of U.S. residents will have some form of immunity protection against the coronavirus by the time the delta variant wave passes. In an interview on ‘Mad Money,’ the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said reaching that amount of coverage is important, even if the country never fully eradicates the disease. ‘I’m optimistic that we’re peaking in COVID for the grim truth that the Delta wave is so pervasive and infecting so many people that on the back end of this we’re going to have immunity in, at least, 85%, maybe 90% of the population,’ Gottlieb said. ‘Some will have acquired that immunity through vaccination. Some will have acquired that immunity through infection. Some will have been both vaccinated and infected.’”
• YouTube is finally taking action against the anti-vaccine crowd. The Washington Post says: “As part of a new set of policies aimed at cutting down on anti-vaccine content on the Google-owned site, YouTube will ban any videos that claim that commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous. The company previously blocked videos that made those claims about coronavirus vaccines, but not ones for other vaccines like those for measles or chickenpox. Misinformation researchers have for years said the popularity of anti-vaccine content on YouTube was contributing to growing skepticism of lifesaving vaccines in the United States and around the world.”
• It appears California’s medical system will be OK after the state’s much-publicized vaccine mandate goes into effect. Our partners at CalMatters report: “Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, Keck Medicine and other major hospital systems in California say they are well on their way to meeting Thursday’s deadline for the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate, with several citing vaccination rates of 90% or higher. California was the first state in the nation to announce that all health care workers must be fully vaccinated. … Only limited medical and religious exemptions are allowed. Despite predictions that the mandate would cause severe staffing shortages, many major hospitals told CalMatters that they were confident Thursday’s deadline would not disrupt daily operations. Several large hospitals—with the exception of a major provider in San Diego—said they had only small numbers of requests for medical and religious exemptions.”
• ProPublica last week published an in-depth report on the ways in which scammers around the world are using Facebook Marketplace to steal and swindle. A brief snippet: “Facebook’s Marketplace is unquestionably a business success. It hit 1 billion users a month this spring, and the company recently told investors that it’s one of its most promising new sources of revenue. That growth has been built, in part, on the company’s assurances about the safety of its platform. That confidence may be misguided. Facebook says it protects users through a mix of automated systems and human reviews. But a ProPublica investigation based on internal corporate documents, interviews and law enforcement records reveals how those safeguards fail to protect buyers and sellers from scam listings, fake accounts and violent crime.”
• Expect mail service to get even crappier. Sigh. CBS News explains: “Mail delivery for many Americans will slow starting on Friday, part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s blueprint for overhauling the U.S. Postal Service in order to slash costs. But critics say the slower delivery standards could cause problems such as late bill delivery while more broadly undermining the public’s faith in the USPS. … Starting tomorrow, the postal service’s current three-day delivery standard for first-class mail—letters, bills, tax documents and the like—will drop to delivery anywhere within the U.S. within five days. In other words, Americans should now expect that letters and other mail could take up to five days to reach their destinations, and vice versa.”
• A bit of local restaurant news: Two well-known Palm Springs restaurateurs (who, we should disclose, are both Independent advertisers) will soon be taking over a popular Rancho Mirage space. From the news release: “Chad Gardner and Willie Rhine, the restaurateurs behind 1501 Uptown Gastropub, as well as numerous solo culinary projects, have acquired the Highway 111 steakhouse known until recently as Bernie’s. The duo will reopen the restaurant in January as a ‘modern European’ dining experience dubbed Willie’s. ‘Willie and I saw an opportunity to reimagine the space and infuse it with a more modern aesthetic, both from a culinary and design standpoint,’ says Gardner, chef and owner of Palm Springs-based Gardner Hospitality Group. ‘For the menu, we’re updating classic European dishes with a contemporary twist. Think warm goat cheese tart, grilled watermelon salad, braised kobe short ribs, and a vegetarian cassoulet.’”
• And finally … flea-ridden raccoons have apparently caused the temporary closure of two Northern California schools. Yes, really. SFGate reports: “An infestation of fleas has forced the Oakland Unified School District to temporarily close two schools for cleaning and pest extermination. District officials suspect raccoons in the area brought fleas to the two afflicted schools, Esperanza Elementary and Korematsu Discovery Academy, which share a campus in East Oakland. By shutting down schools, OUSD hopes that it will limit the spread of fleas across the campus, which border a park and a ‘wooded area’ on either side. ‘It will allow crews to do a deeper cleaning of all classrooms and common areas, including removing all carpets where fleas have taken up residence and laid their eggs,’ the district said in a statement.” Yikes. And ew!
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