Indy Digest: June 28, 2021
It’s been an annoying news day for those of us on vaccine Team Johnson and Johnson.
I am a member of that team. Back in March, I became eligible for the vaccine, and I followed the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC: I took the first vaccine I was offered.
Now, before I begin sniveling, a disclaimer: I know and respect how fortunate I am to have gotten that vaccine when I did. Most people on this planet would give a LOT to be in my position, or get ANY COVID-19 vaccine. I know got a very good vaccine, one that by all accounts is highly effective, against a deadly disease. Truly, honestly, I am thankful.
However … I am also a rational, sane person who does not want to be sickened with COVID-19, which means I am increasingly concerned about the Delta variant. The good news for many Americans is that it appears the Pfizer and Moderna two-shot vaccines work very, very well against Delta.
As for J&J/Janssen? Well … that brings us to these articles.
The first story that caught my attention was a Reuters piece with this humdinger of a headline: “Booster may be needed for J&J shot as Delta variant spreads, some experts already taking them.”
Here’s one quote from that piece: “There’s no doubt that the people who receive the J&J vaccine are less protected against disease,” than those who get two doses of the other shots, said Stanford professor Dr. Michael Lin. “From the principle of taking easy steps to prevent really bad outcomes, this is really a no brainer.”
Gulp. Here’s another: Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a researcher at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, said on Twitter she had gotten a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine this week after receiving J&J’s in April. Rasmussen, who declined to be interviewed, encouraged Americans who received the J&J vaccine to talk to their doctors about a possible second shot.
It’s important to note that other voices in the article say that members of Team J&J should stay calm and relax until the CDC gets more data and issues a recommendation.
Whew. OK. Good. I started to relax … until I came across these two stories, back to back, in The New York Times’ coronavirus updates section.
First up: “Mixing Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provides strong protection, according to a preliminary study.” Key quote: “They found that those who got two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech produced levels of antibodies about 10 times as high as those who got two doses of AstraZeneca. Volunteers who got Pfizer followed by AstraZeneca showed antibody levels about five times as high as those with two doses of AstraZeneca. And volunteers who got AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer reached antibody levels about as high as those who got two doses of Pfizer.”
The story doesn’t specifically address J&J vaccines … but AstraZeneca and J&J are similar in that they are both adenovirus vaccines, whereas Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines.
Second up: “A study finds that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could offer protection for years.” This piece DOES address J&J vaccines with this tidbit from the doctor who led the study: “The study did not consider the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, but Dr. (Ali) Ellebedy said he expected the immune response to be less durable than that produced by mRNA vaccines.”
Again, I am grateful, oh so grateful, that I got that J&J shot back in March. But I still followed Dr. Angela Rasmussen’s advice—and messaged my doctor to ask about a possible booster.
From the Independent
Pure Pageantry: Desert Rose Playhouse Christens Its New Home—and the Return of Local Theater—With ‘The Miss Firecracker Contest’
By Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume
June 28, 2021
Desert Rose Playhouse leads the return of local theater with its production of The Miss Firecracker Contest.
By Bob Grimm
June 28, 2021
The ninth film in the Fast and the Furious franchise is somehow both bonkers and flat.
Good Grief! Palm Canyon Theatre Returns to Live Shows With the Musical ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’
By Matt King
June 25, 2021
Palm Canyon Theatre’s first show back, the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, will be performed Friday, July 9, through Sunday, July 18.
Frustrated by Unfairness: Some Disabled Californians Were Left Out of Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus
By Jackie Botts, CalMatters
June 25, 2021
California lawmakers automatically sent checks to 1.2 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income. But many of the 1.2 million Californians on Social Security Disability Insurance, a different program, were left out.
By Matt King
June 28, 2021
The month of July marks the return of bigger-name acts to the Coachella Valley.
• The Palm Springs Post offers the latest news on the shocking break in the relationship between the city of Palm Springs and homeless-assistance organization Well in the Desert. “City officials last week instructed staff to work with Martha’s Village and Kitchen to quickly open a cooling center and showers at the former Boxing Club on South El Cielo Road. Those instructions came after councilmembers rejected the extension of a permit for Well in the Desert to continue operating at its facility in the Baristo Park neighborhood. Elected officials and neighbors said they had grown increasingly frustrated with The Well’s president, Arlene Rosenthal, whose combative approach and lack of adequate documentation eroded trust.”
• The state’s budget is still being haggled over—but the governor and legislative leaders have agreed on most things. Our partners at CalMatters break down what’s in the budget, and what it will mean to all of us who live here. Key quote: “The $262.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was fueled by a $76 billion state surplus and $27 billion in federal aid. Democrats who control the Capitol wanted to use the windfall to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic and its uneven toll on Californians. While the state’s top earners continued to accrue wealth from a strong stock market, booming tech sector and rising home values, low-wage Californians suffered from job losses, child care cutbacks and a dysfunctional unemployment insurance system. The state’s progressive tax structure allowed Newsom and lawmakers to infuse social service programs for the needy and middle class with billions of dollars largely from wealthy taxpayers.”
• In other state news: California has expanded its list of states where government-funded travel is a no-no. The Los Angeles Times explains: “California is expanding to 17 the number of states to which it is restricting government-financed travel because of laws deemed to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the state attorney general said Monday. The new states added to the sanctions list are Florida, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas and North Dakota, according to California Atty. General Rob Bonta. Bonta said new laws in those states are part of a recent wave of bills harmful to LGBTQ people, including a new Florida law that he criticized for preventing transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity.”
• The Hi-Desert Star reports that some homebuilders learned the hard way that Joshua trees are a protected species: “Two home builders who destroyed 36 Joshua trees on their Prescott Avenue property were fined $18,000 in court Tuesday. ‘It is unlawful to remove these trees. It is a violation that will be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted,’ said Patrick Foy, a captain with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The investigation began Feb. 11, when a Morongo Basin resident saw two local landowners uprooting Joshua trees to make way for a single-family home. They had the trees pulled from the ground and were burying them in a hole on the property, according to the prosecutor.”
• It’s been so hot in the Pacific Northwest in recent days that roads are starting to fall apart. Yes, really. Per SFGate: “Asphalt and concrete roadways are expanding and cracking and even Interstate 5 has been impacted amid a heat wave that has sent temperatures soaring to dangerous levels. ‘There have been several instances of road impacts across Western Washington today, including along I-5 at times,’ the National Weather Service’s Seattle office wrote on Twitter. ‘Additional impacts likely tomorrow with another day of extreme heat. Remain vigilant on your commutes!'”
• How bad has the heat up there been? The Washington Post explains: “On Monday, Portland, Ore., soared to at least 113 degrees, the highest temperature in more than 80 years of record-keeping. It marked the third straight day the city had climbed to an all-time high. On Sunday, it hit 112 Sunday after reaching 108 Saturday, both of which broke the previous all-time record of 107. Seattle was up to at least 106 degrees Monday afternoon, surpassing the all-time record of 104 degrees set Sunday (which topped the previous mark of 103). … The temperature in Lytton in British Columbia had reached nearly 117 degrees just one day after it had surged to a record of 116 degrees. For perspective, Lytton’s temperature matches the all-time high in Las Vegas.”
• Yet more evidence that people can often be terrible: Have you heard about the massive crash at the Tour de France over the weekend—and what caused it? If not, brace yourselves for a whole lot of dumb. According to The New York Times: “The French authorities said they were looking for an unidentified woman who held a banner along the side of the road at the Tour de France on Saturday, leading to a collision that sent dozens of cyclists tumbling to the ground. Footage from the scene shows fallen athletes in a heap of tangled legs and spinning wheels after a German rider, Tony Martin, crashed into the sign along the side of the road before falling. That set off a cascade of collisions in the middle of the peloton, a French word meaning ‘ball’ or ‘group’ that also refers to a cluster of cyclists in a race.” If you watch the video with the story, you’ll see the Times is being too kind in its description: The woman was holding the banner VERY MUCH IN THE ROADWAY AND IN THE PATH OF THE CYCLISTS. The woman fled and is now being sought, because, again, people are terrible.
• I returned to the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast last week with hosts John Taylor and Brad Fuhr. We talked about all the great stuff in the Independent as of late, including Kevin Fitzgerald’s piece on “Lithium Valley,” which serves as the cover story in our July print edition. Check it out!
• And finally … on the off chance you don’t have enough to worry about, The Conversation has this headline for ya: “Fungal infections worldwide are becoming resistant to drugs and more deadly.” Key quote from the author, Rodney E. Rohde: “I’ve worked in public health and medical laboratories for over three decades, specializing in public health and clinical microbiology, antimicrobial resistance and accurate science communication and health literacy. I’ve been paying close attention to the growing resistance of a pathogenic fungus called Candida auris to limited and commonly used anti-fungal agents. Since fungi have traditionally not caused major diseases, the emergence of drug-resistant fungi that can cause serious illness rarely receives funding for medical research. But the facts suggest that this needs to change.” Damn it!
Support the Independent!
Happy Monday, everyone. Thank you to everyone who has been a Supporter of the Independent over the last 16 months. We could not have made it through the darkest days of the pandemic without reader support. While things are improving, however, we still need reader support. We give our news away for free, after all. So, if you have the means, please consider clicking the button below to learn more. Thanks, as always, for reading.