Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: May 2, 2022

As I do every Monday these days, I headed to the city of Palm Springs website earlier today to peruse the latest wastewater testing results for SARS-CoV-2 levels.

And on this particular Monday, I shouted a swear word when I saw the results.

The report, which includes results from testing done April 25 and 26, says: “The average of 617,875 copies per liter is a significant jump from the previous week’s average of 360,433 copies per liter.”

To break it down: Samples taken last Monday showed 421,931 copies per liter, while samples taken last Tuesday showed 813,819 copies per liter. That latter number pretty much ties the high mark of last summer’s delta-variant-driven spike.

Hence that aforementioned shouted swear word.

Most signs, so far, point to this COVID-19 spike being one with lots of sickness, but not as much serious illness as we’ve seen in previous spikes. Chances are you know someone local right now who has COVID—yet, as of yesterday, the total number of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals remained in single digits.

That said, wastewater results are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to COVID-19 spikes. Next comes case-count increases. (And by the way, with the spread of at-home testing, official government case counts these days are just a couple steps above worthless). Next come hospitalization increases, and, finally, deaths.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out some potentially concerning headlines regarding SARS-CoV-2. For one: The New York Times reports that scientists are closely watching yet another COVID-19 spike in South Africa, being driven by two new omicron subvariants.

For another: As The Washington Post reports: “The pandemic’s toll is no longer falling almost exclusively on those who chose not to or could not get shots, with vaccine protection waning over time and the elderly and immunocompromised—who are at greatest risk of succumbing to COVID-19, even if vaccinated—having a harder time dodging increasingly contagious strains.”

And then there’s this story from Bloomberg: “Pfizer’s Paxlovid has become the go-to drug for people who get COVID and are at higher risk of developing a severe case. Now U.S. government researchers are planning studies of how often and why coronavirus levels rebound in some patients who have completed a course of the pill treatment. ‘It is a priority,’ Clifford Lane, deputy director for clinical research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Bloomberg in an interview this week. He called the issue ‘a pretty urgent thing for us to get a handle on.’ The agency is discussing a variety of possible epidemiological and clinical studies to examine the rebound phenomenon, he said.”

I mention all of this not to be alarmist; certainly, we’re far, far better off now than we have been during the vast majority of the time over the last 27 months.

I mention all of this because a lot of readers—heck, a lot of people in general—are either older or immunocompromised, or have loved ones who are older or immunocompromised. I also mention all of this because there are still a lot of simple precautions—like wearing good, quality face masks, and choosing an outdoor table at a restaurant, if possible—people can take to decrease the chances of getting this damn disease. And I mention all of this because we’re at the point where we should expect more businesses to endure temporary shutdowns because too many of their employees are sick.

Finally, I mention all of this because we don’t know what the future holds. SARS-CoV-2 is a nasty, nasty virus—and in many ways, it keeps getting nastier.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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Blues and Beyond: The Desert Blues Revival Series Brings Both Local Legends and Touring Greats to the Agua Caliente Palm Springs

By Matt King

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A third weekly series has found a home at the Agua Caliente Palm Springs’ Cascade Lounge—and this one features blues and rock.

A Cannabis Celebration: On 4/20, We Had a Trick-or-Treating Adventure

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What happens when five over-50s pile into a fancy SUV and go dispensary trick-or-treating on 4/20?

Religion and Murder: Aside From Funky Flashbacks, Hulu’s ‘Under the Banner’ Shows Promise

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Andrew Garfield, Daisy Edgar-Jones and the rest of the cast have our reviewer returning to Hulu true-crime miniseries Under the Banner of Heaven to see how things play out.

The Venue Report, May 2022: Gabriel Iglesias, Mariachi El Bronx, Heklina—and More!

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A sampling of the shows and concerts happening in the Coachella Valley in May.

May Astronomy: Four Planets Continue to Hang Out in the Mornings, While May 15 Brings a Total Eclipse of the Moon

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April 30, 2022

May brings a meteor shower, a total lunar eclipse, and all sorts of bright planets in the mornings.

Mediocre Matches: ‘The Survivor’ Is a Holocaust-Boxing Film Somehow Lacking Heft

By Bob Grimm

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The final quarter HBO Max’s The Survivor is the weakest portion—and the first three quarters weren’t very good to begin with.

More News

Here’s some fantastic news on the open-space preservation front. From our friends at the Palm Springs Post: “A popular recreation area in the city’s south end will forever remain available to the public, thanks to the efforts of a trio of conservation groups, including Palm Springs-based Oswit Land Trust. Acquisition of the area known as The Goat Trails—or Palm Hills —was announced Saturday. ‘We are proud we were able to facilitate this purchase and protect this spectacular land forever,’ said Jane Garrison, executive director and founder of Oswit Land Trust (OLT). … The acquisition, at nearly 4,000 acres, is the largest single land conservation purchase in the history of the Coachella Valley, representatives from OLT, the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy (CVMC), and the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission (CVCC) said in a news release. Garrison said the price was just over $7 million. The deal was closed Friday at 4:30 p.m., 30 minutes before terms of a deal hammered out with the land’s owner were set to expire.”

• Some good news from the good folks over at Animal Samaritans. From a news release: “Animal Samaritans has received a donation to its new Pet Adoption and Humane Education Center building project from the Richard Brooke Foundation in the amount of $750,000. Animal Samaritans will name the future center’s covered Dog Park & Training Yard in their honor. With this generous donation, Animal Samaritans now has more than $4 million in restricted funds, pledged donations, and property assets allocated for their project.” Read our November 2021 piece about Animal Samaritans’ expansion efforts here.

CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven looks at “policy and political overlaps” as the June 7 primary election approaches: Although Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to easily sail to reelection, his stances on two controversial environmental topics—shared in editorial board interviews—could anger advocates already frustrated by his administration’s climate strategy. Newsom told the Los Angeles Times editorial board that he may seek to delay the planned 2025 closure of the hotly debated Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, California’s largest electricity source, amid concerns that the state could see rolling blackouts this summer and in the future. ‘We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option,’ Newsom said. ‘We’re going to worst-case scenario. We are being very sober.’ And Newsom told the Bay Area News Group editorial boards that a powerful state panel should approve a contentious $1.4 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach, which the panel’s own staff recently recommended rejecting. ‘We need more tools in the damn tool kit,’ Newsom said. ‘We are as dumb as we want to be. … Seven out of the last 10 years have been severe drought.’”

The state’s population continues to decrease … but just not here. The Los Angeles Times breaks it down: “The state’s population declined by 117,552 between Jan. 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022, bringing the estimated total population to 39,185,605, according to estimates released by the state Department of Finance on Monday. The 0.3% decline represents a slowing compared to the 0.59% drop over the nine-month period between the April 2020 census date and that year’s end, demographers said. The continued dip underscores shifting immigration patterns, declining birthrates and the large number of deaths due to the pandemic. A growing number of families have moved inland over the last few years, data show, but the migratory shift grew even more pronounced as the barriers to moving dropped for many in large cities, spurred by a newfound ability to work remotely. … Population growth remained strong in the interior counties of the Central Valley and the Inland Empire as Californians in search of more open space, a sense of community and affordable housing continued to trade city life in major urban centers like the Bay Area or Los Angeles for suburban and rural communities.”

The New York Times examines how Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, as part one of the series is headlined, “stoked white fear to conquer cable.” That first part begins by explaining how Carlson escaped a 2018 controversy over his comments on immigration with the support of Fox News’ ownership: “In the years since, Mr. Carlson has constructed what may be the most racist show in the history of cable news—and also, by some measures, the most successful. Though he frequently declares himself an enemy of prejudice—’We don’t judge them by group, and we don’t judge them on their race,’ Mr. Carlson explained to an interviewer a few weeks before accusing impoverished immigrants of making America dirty—his show teaches loathing and fear. Night after night, hour by hour, Mr. Carlson warns his viewers that they inhabit a civilization under siege—by violent Black Lives Matter protesters in American cities, by diseased migrants from south of the border, by refugees importing alien cultures, and by tech companies and cultural elites who will silence them, or label them racist, if they complain.” 

• A heads-up regarding a GoFundMe for a local icon. Tommi Rose, the Toucan’s drag-host extraordinaire, writes on Facebook: “I am in absolute tears today as it has become clearly obvious that I am a direct targeted victim of a hate crime. I posted just a few days ago about both of our vehicles being attacked by a bowling ball through the windshields. While waiting for repairs, we picked up two rentals. Sometime during the night last night, our hater returned and one of the rental cars was attacked with yet another bowling (ball) as well as a pool ball through its windshield. The financial setback for the insurance deductibles for three replacement windshields is overwhelming. Why we’re being attacked is beyond me. We’ve lived in our home almost four years and have never faced anything like this before.” Check out the GoFundMe page here.

And finally … the competition between candidates for Santa Clara County district attorney has gotten kind of crazy. SFGate explains: “At the conclusion of an in-person debate between Santa Clara County district attorney candidates Friday, the leg of incumbent Jeff Rosen tripped challenger Daniel Chung as the former was bending over to pick up a briefcase and the latter was walking back to his chair. Both candidates agree that contact was made. They disagree on whether it was intentional. ‘Based on everything I know, I believe it was intentional,’ Chung told SFGATE. ‘It’s based on a pattern of a lack of impulse control, and he’s physically acting out against me.’ … The third candidate at the debate, Sajid Khan, is the one who first widely shared the video of the incident. Immediately after Chung tripped, Khan can be heard asking Rosen, ‘Did you just trip him?’ to which Rosen replies, ‘No, he just tripped.’” Politics!

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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...