Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: March 17, 2021

Last May, we published a piece in which three local restaurant delivery-app drivers talked about their experiences driving in the early days of the pandemic. One of the drivers was Alex Callego, and something he said in the piece has stuck with me ever since:

Most of my anxiety stems from the stigmas created by the coronavirus and its origin. For me, being Asian, seeing (discrimination) on the news and the media, and seeing all these physical attacks—I’m Filipino, but we get lumped in together, and it’s very unfair. It’s not fair for Chinese people to have that at all, either. Racism is not good. But that’s one of those things I always see. The president should be a person who denounces hatred and racism. Even though he says he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, he has yet to denounce racism publicly.

I’ve noticed a lot of side eye. I’ve seen certain people (look at me strangely), especially working-class people, which is sad, because working-class areas are where most of the Asians are. I was at a Chipotle picking up an order, and I was going to my car. This other car pulled up; two guys were in there. The passenger got out and was going into Chipotle, but the driver was sitting in the car. He was looking at me, and there was definite disgust in his eyes. He was looking at me—with hatred, almost. I could feel it. And I was like, “I don’t even know you; why are you looking at me like this?” And he would not stop looking at me.

You’ve probably heard what happened in the Atlanta area yesterday. In case you haven’t, here’s a snippet of NBC News’ coverage: “A man accused of killing eight people in three shootings at Atlanta-area spas was charged with eight counts of murder on Wednesday. Four of the counts … are related to shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta. The other four are related to shootings at a massage parlor in Cherokee County. (The alleged shooter) also faces an additional aggravated assault charge in Cherokee County. The attacks began around 5 p.m. Tuesday, when four people were killed near Acworth in Cherokee County, authorities said. Less than an hour later, four women were killed in two shootings in Atlanta in Fulton County. The victims in Atlanta were Asian women, as were two of the victims in Acworth, officials said. The two other victims were white, and one man who was injured was stable.”

It’s unclear whether the ethnicity of the victims played a role in the shootings … though it’s hard to imagine that it didn’t.

Regardless, it’s perfectly clear that a whole lot of Asian Americans are frightened, for good reason, because some of our leaders have been stoking racist embers during the pandemic.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Innovator With Veg: Chef Tanya Petrovna Gets Ready to Open the Second Location of Her Second Restaurant Chain

By Andrew Smith

March 16, 2021

The founder of Native Foods Cafe is getting set to open the second location of Chef Tanya’s Kitchen.

Know Your Neighbors: Meet Kathy Diamond, Helper of Both Pets and the Homeless—and Recipient of Bloom in the Desert’s Compassion Appreciation Award

By Anita Rufus

March 17, 2021

Get to know a Palm Springs resident who always makes time to offer a helping hand.

Hiking With T: Celebrate Spring and Earth Day With Preserves—Specifically, the Whitewater Preserve and the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

By Theresa Sama

March 17, 2021

Some of the most gorgeous hikes in all of Southern California can be found in local wildlife preserves.

Vine Social: How to Navigate a Restaurant Wine List—and How to Overcome Wine Snobbery

By Katie Finn

March 17, 2021

Wine professionals and enthusiasts often act snobbish regarding their wine knowledge. This is not a good thing.

Stop the Stigma: Sex Workers—Who Have Been Hit Hard by the Pandemic—Deserve Health Equity

By Jack Bunting

March 17, 2021

Sex workers are facing increased health-equity challenges that threaten them and their partners—so DAP Health is taking steps to help.

The Indy Endorsement: The Boulevardier at Cuistot

By Jimmy Boegle

March 17, 2021

The boulevardier is not on Cuistot’s cocktail menu—but it really should be.

And Now, the News

Riverside County is officially in the red tier for the second time. This means gyms, movie theaters and restaurants can open indoors, at limited capacity. It also means museums can open indoors—and as a result, the Palm Springs Art Museum is slated to open on April 1 after being closed for more than a year. The same thing is happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Los Angeles Times breaks down the state of the vaccination effort in California. One tidbit covers an issue officials are dealing with since the state opened vaccinations to people with certain conditions that make them at-risk of COVID: No proof is required: “The new guidance’s allowance for self-attestation clears up confusion about how high-risk people can prove their eligibility. Advocates have long pressed for a process that would not create unnecessary barriers, especially for those who are less mobile or intellectually disabled. Under the guidelines, people do not have to disclose what condition they have, only that they are eligible. The state guidelines for at-risk people essentially trust residents to accurately disclose their eligibility, but some officials have expressed concern that the lenient rules will be abused by people faking underlying conditions. People have forged documents and used access codes intended for high-risk communities.” Sigh.

Our partners at CalMatters look at the campaign Gov. Gavin Newsom has launched to battle the recall effort: “Since Newsom’s flashy State of the State speech last week that looked like an unofficial campaign kickoff, prominent Democrats across California and the nation have thrown their weight behind the governor and against the attempt to recall him. Their strategy in this deep-blue state that twice resoundingly rejected Republican former President Donald Trump: Portray the recall as a MAGA-inspired movement full of QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers and try to unify Democrats against it. Whether Newsom’s game plan will work will likely depend on how quickly California bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered many businesses and schools—as well as who steps up to try to replace Newsom on the recall ballot.”

The CDC has officially categorized our state’s very own SARS-CoV-2 strains as “variants of concern.” So what in the heck does this mean? CNN says: “The variants may be about 20% more transmissible, the CDC said, citing early research. Some COVID-19 treatments may also be less effective against the strains. Still, the CDC didn’t say that vaccines would stop working against them. In laboratory studies, antibodies from vaccinated people do seem to be less effective at neutralizing the strains. But lower levels of antibodies may still be enough to protect against COVID-19, especially severe cases. Certain immune cells can also help protect against disease—not just antibodies. No coronavirus variants currently rise to the US government’s highest threat level, ‘variant of high consequence.’ Coronavirus strains shown to significantly reduce vaccine effectiveness would fall.”

Here’s the latest weekly Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward.) All the trends are good—but best of all, the number of deaths reported for the week is zero. However, don’t celebrate just yet. Here’s why: Last week’s report showed a total of 900 deaths, while this week’s total is 912. The reason, as county spokesperson Brooke Federico helpfully explained to me: “Deaths are considered a lagging metric, and often the county doesn’t receive notice of deaths for a few days to a few weeks after they occurred. That’s why deaths were reported as having increased this week, but none are recorded as having occurred this week.”

• This really is a good thing, so we’ll mention it and leave it at that. Fox News reports: “Former President Trump urged all Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine in a Fox News exclusive interview on Tuesday, touting its efficacy as both ‘a safe vaccine’ and ‘something that works.'”

The Moderna vaccine is now being tested on children. CBS News says: “Moderna plans to enroll approximately 6,750 pediatric participants in the U.S. and Canada in the two-part study. In part 1, each participant ages 2 years to less than 12 years may receive one of two dose levels, while each participant ages six months to less than 2 years may receive one of three dose levels.”

• As California’s schools begin to reopen—some Desert Sands Unified School District students returned to classrooms this week—not everything is going smoothly. Our partners at CalMatters explain: “Rapidly declining case rates and teacher vaccinations have drastically changed California’s reopening landscape after a year of most K-12 campuses staying closed. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that 9,000 of the state’s schools—an “overwhelming majority”—are either open for some in-person instruction or will be by next month. As of Tuesday, 88% of Californians lived in counties that now allow in-person instruction for middle and high school students. But whether the state’s schools will expand to offer full-time in-person instruction this spring or in the fall will largely depend on state distancing requirements that school officials say effectively prevents most schools from operating full-time in-person schedules, particularly for middle and high school grades.”

The Washington Post breaks down what, exactly, is going on with an increase in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. Key quote: “Much of the focus of the surge—and it is a surge, up 222 percent year-over-year—has been on children who have arrived at the border. In part, this is a function of attempts to equate the (Biden) administration’s housing of migrant children to the children separated from their parents during the Trump administration. On the surface, that focus is belied by the increase that drove much of the surge in February and in the prior four months: the number of individual adults who were coming to the border.”

The New York Times reports: “In one of the largest efforts by an institution to atone for slavery, a prominent order of Catholic priests has vowed to raise $100 million to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people it once owned and to promote racial reconciliation initiatives across the United States. The move by the leaders of the Jesuit conference of priests represents the largest effort by the Roman Catholic Church to make amends for the buying, selling and enslavement of Black people, church officials and historians said.” Very good.

• And finally … because, uh, it’s never too late to start studying, The New York Times talked to all sorts of experts and compiled “14 Lessons for the Next Pandemic.” The first one is to “Prepare for what we can’t imagine: We must overcome our collective failure of imagination. COVID-19 took us by surprise. We spent decades planning for a pandemic that would resemble the viruses we already knew. We didn’t plan for face masks, mass testing, stay-home orders, politicized decision making or devastating racial disparities. Looking forward, we need to prepare for a much broader range of threats.”

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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...