Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 22, 2021

OK, let’s talk about breakthrough COVID-19 infections. As of this writing, I personally know at least three fully vaccinated people who are sick with the coronavirus. I’d be lying if I said that fact didn’t make me a little nervous.

Nervousness aside, both science and real-world evidence prove that although breakthrough infections are obviously a real, legit thing, and being cautious (like wearing masks indoors in public spaces) is always a good idea, I should not have much to worry about—and neither should you, provided you’re fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. The key words there: Not much.

A recent Associated Press piece, which I read on the ABC News website, is headlined: “Rare ‘breakthrough’ COVID cases are causing alarm, confusion.” Yep. I am somewhat alarmed and confused. Can confirm.

However, this is how the actual piece, by AP medical writer Lauran Neergaard, starts out:

Reports of athletes, lawmakers and others getting the coronavirus despite vaccination may sound alarming but top health experts point to overwhelming evidence that the shots are doing exactly what they are supposed to: dramatically reducing severe illness and death.

The best indicator: U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are nearly all among the unvaccinated, and real-world data from Britain and Israel support that protection against the worst cases remains strong. What scientists call “breakthrough” infections in people who are fully vaccinated make up a small fraction of cases.

Several points here: One, a lot of the so-called “breakthrough cases” getting press are asymptomatic cases that would have never been caught in the “real world.” Some of the aforementioned athletes are regularly tested regardless of symptoms, and that’s the only reason why their “cases” were caught. If you’re vaccinated, it’s possible you got infected by SARS-CoV-2—and never knew it.

Two: While I personally know three people currently dealing with symptomatic breakthrough cases, it’s important to note that none of the three people are hospitalized, and the two sickest people are both senior citizens.

In the U.S., we’re living in a very different world than we were during the previous COVID-19 surges. On the good side, most adults are vaccinated. On the bad side, the SARS-CoV-2 strain currently running amok is far more contagious than the previous ones. As a result, there are going to be more symptomatic breakthrough cases than we’ve ever seen before.

Dr. Tom Frieden—who, among other things, was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under President Barack Obama—yesterday explained via Twitter what he thinks will happen in the U.S. over the next few weeks.

“I’m hearing from vaccinated people who are frightened about breakthrough cases, the Delta variant, and new waves of COVID. But it’s not vaccinated people who should be most concerned,” he says, before explaining that he expects to see a large spike in cases—but he does not expect such a large spike in hospitalizations and deaths, because the vast majority of the most vulnerable Americans have been vaccinated.

“When infections do occur among vaccinated people, the vast majority of these cases are mild. For most, COVID is no more serious than the common cold. They’re also less likely to spread the virus, so people around them are safer, although not completely protected,” Frieden writes. “Unfortunately, some breakthrough infections will be less mild, requiring hospitalization and, in rare cases, resulting in death. That doesn’t change the reality that vaccination is the best way to protect ourselves from COVID.”

So be safe. Be sensible. And know that if you’re vaccinated, nothing is sure in life, but you’re very, very likely to get through this new COVID wave just fine—even though we’ll all be hearing about more and more breakthrough cases.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

COVID Consequences: Luis Valentino, the New CVUSD Superintendent, Talks About the Challenges the District Faces in 2021-2022 and Beyond

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An interview with Luis Valentino, the new Coachella Valley Unified School District superintendent.

The XX Factor: Meet Joy Brown Meredith, a Badass Palm Springs Businesswoman and a Tireless Advocate for the Homeless

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Get to know Joy Brown Meredith, the owner of Crystal Fantasy and Joy of Life Wellness Center.

Vine Social: In the Last Few Years, (Some) Canned-Wine Offerings Have Gotten Increasingly Better

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Over the last few years, canned-wine offerings have gotten better and better.

The Indy Endorsement: The Margherita Pizza at Ferro in Idyllwild

By Jimmy Boegle

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The margherita pizza alone is worth making the twisty, turny drive up the mountain to Idyllwild’s Ferro restaurant.

The Lucky 13: Miguel Arballo, Bassist for More Than Circles, Solo Artist and More; Performing at CV Brewing Co. Sundays, July 25, and Aug. 15 and 22

By Matt King

July 22, 2021

Get to know Miguel Arballo, a talented multi-instrumentalist appearing at Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for July 22, 2021!

By Staff

July 22, 2021

Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include feigning ignorance, Facebook’s “community standards,” coffee-bean consumption, billionaires in space—and more!

More News

The latest Riverside County COVID-19 stats—now only being released once a week, rather unfortunately—show things are definitely heading in the wrong direction. As of the June 21 release, the case rate is 7.1 per day per 100,000 residents, with a test positivity rate of 4.7 percent. Those are averages over the last seven days, with a seven day lag—and things are trending badly. These numbers would put us in the red, or second-most-restrictive tier, if tiers were still a thing. So, mask up, folks.

• If you’re looking for a job at a resort, take note: The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, 74855 Country Club Drive, in Palm Desert, is holding a job fair next Wednesday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Sinatra Ballroom 8-14. Bring a resume and yourself and get considered for a gig!

• This Associated Press headline caught my attention because of how horrifying it is: “India’s pandemic death toll could be in the millions.” Key quote: “India’s excess deaths during the pandemic could be a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll, likely making it modern India’s worst human tragedy, according to the most comprehensive research yet on the ravages of the virus in the South Asian country. Most experts believe India’s official toll of more than 414,000 dead is a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns as exaggerated and misleading. The report released Tuesday estimated excess deaths—the gap between those recorded and those that would have been expected—to be 3 million to 4.7 million between January 2020 and June 2021.”

• As did this headline, via ABC News: “Nearly 120,000 children in US have lost a primary caregiver to COVID-19: Internal CDC data.” Sigh. A snippet: “An estimated 119,000 children across the country have lost a primary caregiver due to COVID-19 associated death, and more than 140,000 children experienced the death of a primary or secondary caregiver, defined as co-residing grandparents or kin, according to data in an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained exclusively by ABC News.”

• And so did this one, from The Los Angeles Times: “Summer of disaster: Extreme weather wreaks havoc worldwide as climate change bears down.” The story says: “Extreme weather this summer has flattened rural communities in Germany with floodwaters, triggered deadly mudslides in India and sparked heat waves and fires that can be seen from space in the Western United States and Canada. Floods have also wrought damage in parts of New Zealand, Nigeria and Iran. Scientists have been warning for years that rising temperatures will make dry conditions for wildfires more common in some parts of the world and, in other places, trap more moisture in the atmosphere, leading to heavier rainfall during storms.”

• A professor of communication, writing for The Conversation, brings us this not-so-helpful headline: “Election polls in 2020 produced ‘error of unusual magnitude,’ expert panel finds, without pinpointing cause.” Duh on the first part, and as for the second part … a cause seems kind of important to know, don’t it? Key quote: “The report said the task force rejected several prospective causes of polling error in 2020—including those that likely distorted survey results in key states in 2016 when Trump unexpectedly won an Electoral College victory. Those factors included undecided voters swinging to Trump late in the campaign and a failure by some pollsters to adjust survey results to account for varying levels of education.” OK, so what IS the cause?!

• Colds have been more terrible this year than in previous years, and you have COVID-19, sort of, to blame for that. The New York Times explains: “Months of pandemic restrictions aimed at Covid-19 had the unintended but welcome effect of stopping flu, cold and other viruses from spreading. But now that masks are off and social gatherings, hugs and handshakes are back, the run-of-the-mill viruses that cause drippy noses, stuffy heads, coughs and sneezes have also returned with a vengeance. … Although your immune system is likely as strong as it always was, if it hasn’t been alerted to a microbial intruder in a while, it may take a bit longer to get revved up when challenged by a pathogen again, experts say. And while some viral exposures in our past have conferred lasting immunity, other illnesses may have given us only transient immunity that waned as we were isolating at home.”

• And finally … happy birthday to The Daily Show, which is celebrating its 25th birthday this week. The New York Times takes a look at the show’s first two and a half decades by talking to the show’s creators, while The Los Angeles Times speaks to current host Trevor Noah: “Amy Schumer didn’t want the job. Chris Rock passed, not wanting to commit beyond the 2016 presidential election. Louis C.K. and Amy Poehler also said no. As Trevor Noah, the guy who eventually won the gig, put it in a 2019 interview with The Times: ‘Only an idiot would take over from Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show. And luckily, I was that idiot.’”

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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...