Daily Digest: April 9, 2021
Happy Friday, all.
Things are beginning to feel a LOT closer to normal. On a personal level, various elements of pre-COVID life are returning. After I finish this digest, I’ll be heading to meet teammates for softball practice. I am joining friends for (a patio) dinner this weekend. The hubby and I have an upcoming trip planned to see our parents for the first time since Christmas 2019; we’ll be fully vaccinated before we go.
However, the pandemic is still very much a problem. In fact, on a global level, these may be the worst days thus far.
Ambulances filled with breathless patients lined up in Brazil as nations around the world set new records Thursday for COVID-19 deaths and new coronavirus infections. The disease surged even in some countries that have kept the virus in check.
In the United States, Detroit leaders began making a plan to knock on every door to persuade people to get vaccine shots.
Brazil this week became just the third country, after the U.S. and Peru, to report a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths that exceeded 4,000. India hit a peak of almost 127,000 new cases in 24 hours, and Iran set a new coronavirus infection record for the third straight day, reporting nearly 22,600 new cases.
There are many, many reasons for optimism, especially locally. But a whole lot of people are still suffering due to SARS-CoV-2.
From the Independent
By Matt King
April 7, 2021
Hermano Flower Shop, located in Palm Springs, has launched a series of filmed live shows inside the tiny shop.
By Barbara Feder Ostrov, CalMatters
April 9, 2021
For now, California has no plans to create a statewide vaccine passport or other credential. But private businesses, especially airlines, could require them in the […]
April 8, 2021
Topics covered on this week’s comics page include tax increases, bison jerky, Amazon’s cameras—and much more!
And Now, the News
• Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing questions regarding his announcement earlier this week that the state should be able to drop the county tier system by June 15. SFGate reports: “During an interview with CBS This Morning that aired Wednesday, Newsom denied the charges that politics have played a role. He is likely to face a recall election in the fall after organizers capitalized on widespread dissatisfaction with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions to gather signatures. ‘Absolutely not,’ Newsom said when asked if the recall is impacting policy. ‘In fact, quite the contrary. We’re just focused on the data, disease prevalence. I’m focused on what’s actually happening on the ground.'” Personally, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He was accused of similar things in January when he surprisingly lifted the stay-at-home order, even though hospitalizations remained very, very high … and it turned out the projections of improvement he cited were correct.
• California’s vaccine supply will fall sharply next week, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (subscription required): “California expects to receive fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine for the next two weeks, just as the state is slated to see a surge in demand from millions of newly eligible people starting April 15. The state said its vaccine allocation from the federal government will drop 15%, from 2.4 million doses this week to 2 million doses next week, and dip another 5% the week after that to 1.9 million doses.”
• The main reason for the decrease: The flow of Johnson and Johnson vaccines has slowed to a trickle. NBC News says: “Shipments of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be down by 80 percent nationwide next week as the company struggles with manufacturing problems, the Biden Administration reported Friday. Just 700,000 doses have been allocated, compared to the 4.9 million doses that were distributed across the country this week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients confirmed. Johnson & Johnson will be delivering fewer vaccine doses next week, but Zients did not say how many although he insisted the company expects to be able to deliver 8 million doses per week by the end of April.”
• Axios makes the case that the country going to have a problem convincing enough people to get vaccinated: “There are growing signs that parts of the country may be close to meeting demand for the coronavirus vaccine—well before the U.S. has reached herd immunity. … For the last few months, the primary focus of the U.S. has been getting shots to everyone who wants them, as quickly as possible. Soon, that focus will abruptly shift to convincing holdouts to get vaccinated. … Red states in the South are administering the lowest portion of the vaccine doses that they receive from the federal government—a sign of low demand, slow public health systems, or both. The most vaccine-reluctant Americans are white Republicans, polling has found.”
• Related to the vaccine-passport story in the “From the Independent” section above: The New York Times examines the burgeoning market for fake vaccination cards—and the efforts being made to squash it: “On Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, little rectangular slips of paper started showing up for sale in late January. Printed on card stock, they measured 3 by 4 inches and featured crisp black lettering. Sellers listed them for $20 to $60 each, with a discount on bundles of three or more. Laminated ones cost extra. All were forgeries or falsified copies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards, which are given to people who have been inoculated against Covid-19 in the United States. ‘We found hundreds of online stores selling the cards, potentially thousands were sold,’ said Saoud Khalifah, the founder of Fakespot, which offers tools to detect fake listings and reviews online.”
• We’ve linked to stories regarding the fact that vaccine side effects are often a sign of someone’s body mounting a good immune response … so does that mean a lack of side effects means the body is NOT mounting a good response? The folks at MedPage Today are here to put minds at ease with a report on a study showing a body’s immune response is likely good, whether or not there are side effects after receiving a Pfizer or Moderna shot: “… The approximate 95% efficacy for both vaccines applied to all participants, regardless of their reaction or lack thereof, said Paul Offit, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. ‘By definition, there have to be many people who don’t have any side effects, and they will still be protected,’ Offit told MedPage Today.”
• Kids age 12-15 could soon be eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. CNN says: “Pfizer on Friday asked the FDA for an amendment to its emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine to expand its use in people ages 12-15 in the United States. ‘It’s highly likely’ that the FDA will allow the expansion and could act ‘relatively quickly,’ the acting chairman of an FDA vaccine advisory committee said.”
• If you need help with rent assistance, take note. From a news release: “Lift to Rise will host a series of mobile pop-up events to help eastern Riverside County residents apply for United Lift Rental Assistance, where they can potentially be approved on the spot. United Lift, funded by Riverside County’s coronavirus relief fund in partnership with the Inland SoCal United Way, is a rental assistance program that aims to keep thousands of Riverside County residents housed. More than $55 million in rental assistance is available to eligible Riverside County residents. Lift to Rise is processing applications for the assistance for residents who live in the eastern portion of Riverside County, including the Coachella Valley. UnitedLift.org has an application portal where Riverside County renters can fill out an application and supply all their documents digitally. But people who want to apply in person will have multiple options at events over the next several months. The first event will be held on Saturday, April 10 at the Cathedral City Community Amphitheater … from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 68526 Avenida Lalo Guerro.”
• Speaking of a return to normalcy, The Los Angeles Times brings this exciting news: “The Hollywood Bowl is coming back—and sooner than you might expect. After COVID-19 forced the storied venue to scrap the 2020 season—the first full cancellation in 98 years — the Los Angeles Philharmonic is expected to announce Friday that the Bowl will reopen May 15 with a free concert for healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers, including grocery store staff, custodians and delivery drivers. … The 2021 season, which officially will kick off in early July, consists of 14 weeks of concerts, possibly attended by full capacity crowds given the state’s plan to reopen businesses and venues fully by June 15.”
• President Biden yesterday announced some executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence—and our partners at CalMatters note that some of the moves Biden made are already law in California: “This is Biden’s first crack at changing national gun policy and stops short of his campaign promise to ban ‘assault rifles.’ But he stressed these are first steps. Bigger changes will require Congress to step up, something Biden demanded: ‘Enough prayers, time for some action.’”
• One of the most contentious election issues last year is in the news today. As explained by NBC News: “President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Friday establishing a commission to study overhauling the Supreme Court, following through on a campaign promise, the White House announced. The topics that the commission will examine include the length of service and turnover of justices on the court, its membership and size, and its case selection, rules and practices, the White House said in a statement.”
• Well, this headline and subheadline from Vanity Fair are depressing: “‘We Are Hoarding’: Why the U.S. Still Can’t Donate COVID-19 Vaccines to Countries in Need. Thanks to America First–style contracts negotiated by the Trump administration and an alarming uptick in domestic cases, the urgent work of planning to vaccinate the rest of the world is stuck in limbo.”
• Florida is, uh, being Florida again. CNBC reports: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state will file a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, demanding cruise ships be allowed to resume sailing immediately. ‘On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depend on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida’s fighting back,’ he announced in a press conference. ‘We don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data.’”
• And here’s another COVID-19-related shortage I didn’t see coming, even though it oddly makes perfect sense: “Ketchup has always been a staple condiment for Americans, but since the pandemic forced many restaurants to ramp up their takeout game, the demand for those handy individual packets quickly skyrocketed,” NBC News says about ketchup packets. “And the rules of supply and demand have led to a 13 percent increase in ketchup packet prices since 2020.”
• If you’re in the city of Palm Springs, and have shredding, electronic waste or bulky items you’d like to get rid of, mark your calendars: “The City of Palm Springs is pleased to announce its next shredding and e-waste recycling event will be held on Saturday, April 17. The event is scheduled from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at City Hall, 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way—and is being held in conjunction with Palm Springs Disposal Services’ bulky item collection event from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at City Hall. These events are open to Palm Springs residents only.” Read the press release for more details.
• The folks at Jeopardy! have let us know that one of our neighbors is going to be on the show tonight (April 9): “Dennis Chase, a biotech project manager from Cathedral City, Calif., to compete on America’s Favorite Quiz Show®” says the news release. Wait. They trademarked “America’s Favorite Quiz Show”?!
• And finally, The New York Times gives humanity a heads-up that the known laws of physics may be all wrong: “Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle seems to be disobeying the known laws of physics, scientists announced on Wednesday, a finding that would open a vast and tantalizing hole in our understanding of the universe. The result, physicists say, suggests that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science. The new work, they said, could eventually lead to breakthroughs more dramatic than the heralded discovery in 2012 of the Higgs boson, a particle that imbues other particles with mass.”
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