Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: March 1, 2021

Happy Monday. Happy March. Happy first day of Johnson and Johnson vaccine shipments.

Let’s start off with some breaking news about local vaccine clinics, just in from Riverside County. The short version: A new vaccination site is opening in Desert Hot Springs, and the Indio vaccination site is being taken over by Curative, the company that operates the Palm Springs Convention Center site.

The longer version, from the news release (emphasis is ours):

Riverside County health officials have planned a series of changes to better serve residents and provide more opportunities for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The updated clinics, which will take effect this week, will also help provide better access to COVID-19 testing by converting the Perris Fairgrounds into a fulltime testing site.

“The changes that are planned will help provide vaccines in locations where they are needed and give greater access to residents in those communities,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health. “We wish to thank the Corona-Norco Unified school district for its cooperation with the Corona High School site, which was a great location for the community.”

Here are the changes:

• Three sites will be opened Wednesday and operated by OptumServe in Norco (1377 Hamner Ave.), Temecula (39716 Winchester Road) and Desert Hot Springs (11711 West Drive).

• The vaccine site at the Lake Elsinore Stadium, which previously operated two days a week, will be expanded to hours Thursday through Monday. The site will be operated by Curative.

The Indio Fairgrounds vaccine site will convert from county- to Curative-run location.

• The Corona High School vaccine site will close Friday (March 5); the staff from the location will be assigned to a new vaccine clinic in Moreno Valley. The location of the Moreno Valley clinic will be announced soon. Those who received their first dose at Corona High School will be notified when and where to receive their second dose.

• The Perris Fairgrounds site, which provided vaccine two days a week, will be converted to a COVID-19 testing site and be opened seven days a week. This change will take effect Tuesday (March 2).

In related news: I want to draw your attention to the first story in the “From the Independent” section below. Written by Kevin Fitzgerald, the piece is about two local women who decided to take it upon themselves to help locals deal with the confusing, frustrating and ever-changing vaccination-signup process.

Read it because 1) Rhea Hoffman and Calista Vassios deserve an amazing amount of credit for creating; 2) they may be able to help you or a loved one out with vaccination-appointment signups; and 3) you may have the time, expertise or other resources to help them help others.

Go. Read it.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Valuable Vaxie: Two Coachella Valley Residents Noticed People Were Struggling to Make Vaccination Appointments—So They Did Something About It

By Kevin Fitzgerald

March 1, 2021 is a free online “vaccine searcher” resource available to any Riverside County resident, with a corresponding Facebook page (

Cat and Mouse: Live-Action Humans Can’t Help Make ‘Tom and Jerry’ Funny

By Bob Grimm

March 1, 2021

Director Tim Story tries to bring some life to a long-dead franchise by pulling a Roger Rabbit and mixing animated Tom and Jerry characters […]

And Now, the News

• A new rapid-testing COVID-19 service has opened in Indio. From the city of Indio news release: “A new COVID rapid-test site has opened in Downtown Indio. Appointments are not needed at this walk-in clinic, and test results are guaranteed in 15 minutes. Antibody testing is also available for $100.  These tests are both covered by Medicare and PPO insurance, however, the out of pocket cost for the nasal-swab rapid COVID test is $150, or $105 for businesses. The Stat Med Group clinic is located at 82-867 Miles Ave. inside the former Indio Police substation, and across the street from the newly opened Indio Food Park. Operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Stat Med Group is closed for one hour for lunch beginning at noon. Free testing is also available through Curative at the Indio Fairgrounds through a contract with Riverside County. Email  or call (442) 256-3062 for questions about the rapid testing downtown.”

• The city of La Quinta is offering a tip o’ the figurative hat to frontline workers and victims of COVID-19. From the city news release: “The City of La Quinta is honoring front-line workers and victims of COVID-19 by lighting up City Hall in white. March 2021 marks one year that the country has been in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 500,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19 while endless amounts of front-line workers continue to serve their communities. “The City of La Quinta wants to honor every single life lost and affected by COVID-19. We want to honor all of our frontline workers who are doing what they can to serve their community.” Said Marcie Graham, Marketing Manager and Public Information Officer. The City has placed white lights surrounding City Hall and is encouraging the other cities in the Coachella Valley to do the same.”

• Some other vaccine-related news: City News Service reports that two GOP congressmen, Reps. Darrell Issa and Ken Calvert, are asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to send vaccines directly to Riverside County—in part, because we’re getting short shrift from the state. Key quote: “According to the congressmen’s joint letter to HHS, neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego counties routinely have received roughly 1,900 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines per 100,000 residents, while Riverside County gets only about 1,050 per 100,000.

• And our partners at CalMatters say that, no, really, this time for realsies, the new vaccine system helmed by Blue Shield is gonna start happening today. Key quote: “Blue Shield today spelled out some of the details of how the new oversight will work. Ten counties—eight in the Central Valley plus Imperial and Riverside—will go first. This means that Blue Shield will make recommendations to state health officials on how many doses should go to each of those counties, and which providers should get them. Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich said that its recommendations for how much to distribute doses to each county will be based on priority groups in the state’s vaccination tiers as well as the state’s goals to provide equity for disadvantaged communities. All 58 counties are expected to go through the transition by the end of March.” How will this all work? I have no idea … and neither does anyone else, it seems. So, yeah.

• Also from CalMatters: The governor and the Legislature finally have a deal on a plan to nudge schools to reopen for in-person learning: “California public schools will receive financial incentives to reopen campuses by April 1 for their youngest and most vulnerable students under a deal Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced today after months of tense negotiations. Under the plan, schools are not required to reopen. Decisions still rest with school boards, administrators and labor unions, so it is unclear whether the deal will actually result in widespread campus reopenings. Prompted by parents who have been protesting school closures, Newsom and Democrats who control the Legislature said they hope that the $6.6 billion compromise will prod public schools to reopen after most campuses have been closed for nearly a year. Legislators said they will vote on the plan Thursday, and Newsom said he would quickly sign it into law. ‘We expect that all of our (transitional kindergarten) to (grade) two classrooms will open, and then the next month, we want to see more happen beyond that,’ Newsom said during a press conference at an elementary school in Elk Grove. ‘We’re now accelerating the pace of reopening.’ But parent activists blasted the plan, saying they fear it will not compel enough schools to reopen.” 

• In other gubernatorial-ish news from the day: Gov. Newsom said that while coronavirus cases continue to decline in California, there are concerns that the declines won’t continue. The Los Angeles Times says: “Although the state’s coronavirus numbers have plummeted to levels not seen in months, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday acknowledged that ‘we are seeing a little bit of a plateau, and one needs to be mindful of that.'” The article also included this reopening tidbit: “The governor said state officials would likely announce Tuesday that seven counties would move from the purple tier—the strictest of the state’s four-category reopening roadmap—into the more permissive red tier. The counties slated to advance are Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, El Dorado, Napa, Lassen and Modoc.” Note that Riverside County is NOT on that list.

• Palm Springs resident Richard Grenell, the most-prominent openly LGBT member of the Trump administration—and a potential gubernatorial candidate, should the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom succeed—is re-learning something that he probably already knew: Large swaths of the GOP don’t like the LGBTQ community. Raw Story reports: “It rubbed Grenell the wrong way on Monday when Lauren Witzke, an unsuccessful GOP nominee for Senate in the 2020 election, attacked a transgender woman who attended the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference as ‘mentally ill’ and ‘demonic’ and comparing acceptance of transgender rights to castrating children, leading to a public argument on Twitter.” LGBTQNation also did a report on the mess with this headline: “Ric Grenell shared a trans woman’s CPAC experience. Conservatives have been blasting him since then.” I won’t comment any further, other than to sigh, wonder what in the hell LGBTQ Republicans like Grenell are thinking, and start pondering how strong I should make the Manhattan I am going to consume after I finish up this Digest.

• Speaking of delusional Republicans comes this headline from The Washington Post: “Rewriting January 6th: Republicans push false and misleading accounts of Capitol riot.” Key quote: “A legion of conservative activists, media personalities and elected officials are seeking to rewrite the story of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to undermine the clear picture of the attack that has emerged from video and photo evidence, law enforcement officials, journalistic accounts and the testimonials of the rioters themselves: that a pro-Trump mob, mobilized by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election, stormed the seat of American government to keep Trump in power through violent means.”

Three COVID-19 doctors, writing for The Conversation, discuss six new treatments doctors now have for the disease. Key quote: “Medical progress since the start of the pandemic has been awe-inspiring. Doctors now have vaccines, antiviral antibodies for high-risk outpatients and several treatments for hospitalized patients. Continued research will be crucial to improve our ability to fight a disease that has already claimed more than 2.5 million lives worldwide.”

• San Diego Comic-Con will not be happening as an in-person event in 2021. However, the news is not all bad, as Deadline reports: “Like 2020, the comic book/sci-fi/horror/genre confab will take place virtually—this year from July 23-25. However, if you are itching for some in-person cosplay and comic-friendly festivities, SDCC has decided to plan a three-day in-person convention in San Diego during November.”

• Finally … here’s a story, from a writer who co-wrote a book with a hospice doctor, from The Conversation that I found simply fascinating. Here’s a key quote to describe the piece: “At the sight of dying patients reaching and calling out to their loved ones—many of whom they had not seen, touched or heard for decades—(Dr. Christopher Kerr) began collecting and recording testimonies given directly by those who were dying. Over the course of 10 years, he and his research team recorded the end-of-life experiences of 1,400 patients and families. What he discovered astounded him. Over 80% of his patients—no matter what walk of life, background or age group they came from—had end-of-life experiences that seemed to entail more than just strange dreams. These were vivid, meaningful and transformative. And they always increased in frequency near death.”

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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...