Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Jan. 10, 2022

I was driving through Palm Springs on my way to an outdoor dinner with friends Friday night when we went past one of the city’s busiest restaurants.

Except it wasn’t busy. In fact, it was closed—and will remain closed for at least another week due to, well, you know.

In alternate universe where omicron is not a thing, this restaurant would have been absolutely hopping, serving a Friday-night crowd on the first weekend of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

But we’re not in that alternate universe.

We’ve been fortunate in the Coachella Valley that our restaurant and small-business scene has survived relatively intact through the pandemic (at least compared to a lot of other places). One reason for this is that small businesses—including the Independent—got a LOT of government help during the closures and other disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Thanks to omicron and all the sickness it is causing, restaurants and other small businesses are taking yet more financial hits. That means employees of those businesses are getting hurt, too. The pandemic is still here … but the government aid, for the most part, is not.

CNBC earlier today published a story on a petition with more than 3 million signatures. That petition. which calls for $2,000 monthly stimulus checks, was started by Denver restaurateur Stephanie Bonin. This part of the story in particular caught my interest:

Bonin said she is already hearing from supporters of the petition who need more aid now.

That includes people who may have to quit their jobs if their children return to virtual learning, grandparents living on fixed incomes who provide for their grandchildren and people who need the boost to be able to rent apartments. …

Bonin and Arnold recently shut down the Duo Restaurant for a week around Christmas after half of their kitchen staff contracted COVID-19.

While they lost about $30,000 in income for the week, they still paid about $9,000 toward their payroll due to paid leave mandates. …

Aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which they credit with keeping the restaurant in business earlier in the pandemic, is no longer available. Stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits dried up last year. This month, the monthly child tax credit payments stopped.

Will Congress approve more government aid for small businesses and individuals being impacted by omicron? I don’t know. I do know that if more aid does not come, a lot of small businesses won’t survive.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

United Groove: Straight No Chaser Brings Its Trailblazing A Cappella Arrangements to the McCallum Theatre

By Matt King

January 10, 2022

Straight No Chaser is bring its unique, all-vocal arrangements of songs and even TV themes to the McCallum Theatre on Feb. 23.

The Indy Endorsement: The Grilled Chicken Flatbread at V Wine Lounge

By Jimmy Boegle

January 10, 2022

Dining out can be a scary thing during a pandemic. However, thanks to the heated patio, the great fare and fine service, you’ll likely feel comfortable at V Wine Lounge.

Macbeth Modified: Joel Coen’s Solo Shakespearean Effort Is Something to Savor

By Bob Grimm

January 10, 2022

Even though only one Coen brother directs The Tragedy of Macbeth, all the hallmarks of a Coen movie are all there: incredible visuals, wonderfully eccentric performances, and that amazing attention to sound.

More News

The latest omicron-related closures, postponements and cancellations include Trio Restaurant (closed until Monday, Jan. 17); all in-person programming, activities and events by the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, except for food bank distributions; the Agua Caliente Casinos Polo and Balloon Classic (postponed until March); and Risque Drag Revue and Spotlight events at Hunters Palm Springs (cancelled through January; other events will continue); and the Palm Springs Swim Center (closed for at least 10 days due to staff exposures).

Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City‘s city offices are now closed to walk-in access.

The McCallum Theatre announced via email that appearances by Lewis Black (Feb. 6), Hershey Felder (Feb. 15 and 16) and Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal (Feb. 17) had been cancelled by the artists. “At this time all other shows are confirmed and moving forward as planned,” the email said.  

• Assemblymember Chad Mayes, the California Legislature’s only independent, announced today via social media that he would not seek re-election this year. “Over the last 7 years, I have seen first-hand the dangers of partisan politics,” he wrote. “Blind faith to political teams has created a toxic tribalism that is tearing families, friendships, communities and this country apart. While my time in the Assembly will soon end—let me be clear—my work is not yet done. I will continue the fight towards restoring truth, honor, and civility in our politics.”

Our partners at CalMatters report on the toll the latest pandemic wave is taking on the state’s medical system: “Throughout California, as COVID-19 infections deplete their staff of nurses, anesthesiologists and other essential workers, hospitals are canceling or postponing so-called ‘elective’ surgeries to repair injured knees and aching back, remove kidney or bladder stones, and repair cataracts or hernias, among other procedures. Alarmed by a growing shortage of specialized health care workers, the California Department of Public Health is evaluating whether to issue an order to hospitals statewide to suspend elective surgeries in cases in which patients wouldn’t be immediately harmed.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has activated the National Guard to help with the state’s testing efforts. CBS News explains: “More than 200 guard members are being deployed to 50 sites to help with clinical staffing and crowd control, the governor said. ‘This new action is on top of the existing 6,000 testing sites that have been set up across the state, the recent demand-based expansion of hours at state-operated sites and the 9.6 million tests that the state has distributed to schools since early December,’ his office said in a news release. The announcement comes as people face difficulty finding coronavirus test kits in many parts of California and delays in getting results—causing increasing frustration and contributing to a surge of infections that in just two weeks more than doubled the number of people in hospitals with COVID-19.”

• Related: Newsom is also calling for $2.7 billion in state COVID-19-related spending, including $1.4 billion in emergency funds. CalMatters offers the details. A snippet: “(The request) includes $1.2 billion to bolster testing, including expanding clinic hours and capacity and sending rapid tests to local health departments and schools. (However, as of Friday, 17 of 58 counties still had not received rapid tests that Newsom on Dec. 22 promised would be made available to California’s 6 million public school students before they returned to campus from winter break.)”

• You may soon be able to get reimbursed for rapid tests … that is, if you can find any. The Associated Press, via ABC News, reports: “Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans. The Biden administration announced the change Monday as it looks to lower costs and make testing for the virus more convenient amid rising frustrations. Under the new policy, first detailed to the AP, Americans will be able to either purchase home testing kits for free under their insurance or submit receipts for the tests for reimbursement, up to the monthly per-person limit. A family of four, for instance, could be reimbursed for up to 32 tests per month. PCR tests and rapid tests ordered or administered by a health provider will continue to be fully covered by insurance with no limit.”

The family of a Riverside County employee who died due to COVID-19 is suing, alleging that the county is responsible for both his death and his widow’s long-haul COVID-19, in part because he was not allowed to work remotely. The Press-Enterprise says: “Michael Haywood’s widow and one of his adult sons held a news conference Monday, Jan. 10, outside Riverside County Superior Court, where attorney V. James DeSimone’s firm planned to file the lawsuit alleging wrongful death and violating state regulations protecting disabled workers. ‘We are here today because the county of Riverside did not do everything reasonably necessary to protect the lives of its employees … (and) the life of Michael Haywood,’ DeSimone said. The Yucaipa resident ‘was a long-term employee. He was a good employee. And instead of providing those reasonable accommodations—a 61-year-old man, a man with his life in front of him … the county denied it.'”

• And finally … Insider looks at the ways in which inflation is “ending some of Americans’ favorite bargains.” One example: “The last remaining major dollar store chain in the US to stand by the $1 commitment, Dollar Tree just officially raised prices to $1.25 this month. After years of investor pressure, the discount chain finally buckled under rising supply chain and labor costs. The new price point will enable it to absorb these costs and bring profit margins back to historic levels, company execs said.”

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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...