Indy Digest: Dec. 16, 2021
We are going to start today with a depressing, scary, not-at-all-fun series of links to various news stories regarding the state of the pandemic in these United States.
But at the end of those scary links, there will be a reason for some optimism. So bear with me. OK? OK!
• COVID-19 cases are ravaging the NBA. This CBS Sports report lists more than three dozen (!) players currently out due to COVID-19 protocols.
• COVID-19 cases are ravaging the NFL. This ESPN piece discusses the stricter protocols the league is now under (though players can return faster than they previously could), and concludes with this alarming recap: “The Cleveland Browns … announced Wednesday that head coach Kevin Stefanski has tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least eight starters—including quarterback Baker Mayfield—have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. The Los Angeles Rams have placed 13 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list in the past week, including star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and starting running back Darrell Henderson. Washington has placed 17 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week—including eight on Wednesday and three more on Thursday—bringing its total to 21 overall and 11 starters.”
• Surging COVID-19 cases are forcing colleges to rethink things. For example, here’s what Stanford University just announced, according to The Stanford Daily: “Classes at Stanford will be held online for the first two weeks of winter quarter, University officials announced in a Thursday email. Students will also be required to receive a booster vaccine dose by the end of January.”
• COVID-19 cases are ravaging Broadway. From The New York Times: “The coronavirus pandemic has upended the theater industry’s longstanding ‘show must go on’ philosophy, supplanting it with a safety-first strategy. The result: a raft of cancellations unlike any in history. On Wednesday, ‘Tina,’ a jukebox musical about Tina Turner, canceled both of its performances; ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,’ a stage sequel to the novels, canceled its matinee, and ‘Hamilton’ canceled its evening performance. A new musical adaptation of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ had already canceled four performances between Sunday and Wednesday, while Lin-Manuel Miranda’s improv troupe, ‘Freestyle Love Supreme,’ canceled three, and ‘Ain’t Too Proud,’ the Temptations jukebox musical, canceled one. At an Off Broadway theater down the street, a strong-selling revival of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ scrapped four shows last weekend.”
• Related: The case positivity rate is skyrocketing in New York. NBC New York says: “The percentage of people in New York City testing positive for COVID-19 doubled in three days this week, and a top advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was an indication of the omicron variant evading immunity in a way the virus never had before. … Dr. Jay Varma, a professor at Cornell and De Blasio’s senior public health advisor, tweeted Thursday morning that the city’s positivity rate was rising sharply. ‘Um, we’ve never seen this before in #NYC,’ Varma tweeted, noting that the daily positivity rate on Dec. 9 was 3.9% and appeared to have doubled by Dec. 12 to 7.8%.”
• Omicron is surging in Washington state. The New York Times reports: “Researchers at the University of Washington found that 13 percent of 217 positive coronavirus case specimens collected on Wednesday had the mutation. That was up from about 7 percent of samples they had tested from the day before, and 3 percent from the day before that—in a region that had its first identified cases only two weeks ago.”
• The result of all of this? Here’s how Andy Slavitt, a former CDC administrator and former pandemic adviser to President Biden, started off a Twitter thread earlier today: “Omicron will peak in the US in the third wave in January according to a consensus of 10 scientists we interviewed. So far Omicron is doubling every 2-4 days, extraordinarily fast. People with prior infections or have been vaccinated but not boosted are right in the path of the spread.”
OK, I am done now. I think I speak when for all of us when I say, emphatically, “Yikes.”
So … are you ready for some optimism? Later down in Slavitt’s thread, he comes to this: “If cases peak in the third week in January, hospitalizations peak weeks later. Some see a short but significant disruption. With boosters, more rapid tests & a 90% effective oral anti-viral, the winter wave & a hospital crush could end up a short-lived challenge. … If I were communicating this challenge to the country, I would emphasize that whatever sacrifice is required will be short-lived & we will be able to get back to business, school, work & travel.”
While I am not a former CDC administrator, nor do I play one on TV, I will nonetheless elaborate: Even with omicron and delta teaming up against us, we’re still in a much better place overall than we were this time last year. We have vaccines. We have boosters. We have better, if still not great, testing. We know how to tamp down on the damage. If you’re vaccinated, you’re probably safe from the worst of it. If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you’re, more likely than not, safe from all of it.
The next month to six weeks, in some ways, will royally suck. But things could be a hell of a lot worse … because we’ve survived those things already.
From the Independent
Cannabis in the CV: A Question You Should Ask Your Preferred Cannabis Retailer—How Secure Is My Information?
By Jocelyn Kane
December 15, 2021
Do you ever wonder if your personal information, as it is kept on file by a cannabis retailer, is safe? What if you purchase your cannabis online and use a home-delivery service? We decided to take a look into the subject to find out.
By Theresa Sama
December 16, 2021
The Lykken Trail is broken into two sections, North and South, with both offering various approaches of entry and exit along the way.
Beyond the Nostalgia: The Brosquitos Are Back With Remastered Old Music, a New Mindset and Big Plans
By Matt King
December 16, 2021
After a series of lineup changes and new names, the Brosquitos are back—but yet another name change may be in the works, along with new music.
On Cocktails: If You Want to Cut Your Sugar and Calorie Intake but Still Imbibe, Consider Martinis and Their Cousins
By Kevin Carlow
December 14, 2021
The dirty vodka martini is probably the Coachella Valley’s most popular cocktail—but its close relatives are better drinks.
December 16, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include the social hierarchy, moose-inspired mirrors, global patent restrictions—and more!
• Here’s the latest Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report. (The Coachella Valley, plus rural points to the east, comprise District 4.) While the pandemic is running amok in other parts of the country, things are holding steadyish here as of the week ending Dec. 12. The number of COVID-19 patients at our three local hospitals remains steady, and the weekly positivity rate remained unchanged at 5.2 compared to the week before. Of course, New York and Washington state prove that when omicron starts doing its thing, numbers can rise quickly. So, stay tuned.
• There is a lot more COVID-19 news I could share right now, but, good heavens, I think we’ve had enough for today. So let’s move on to, uh … well, crap, another equally depressing topic: climate change. Three scientists who follow the goings-on in the Arctic, writing for The Conversation, say this: “On Dec. 14, 2021, a team of 111 scientists from 12 countries released the 16th annual Arctic Report Card, a yearly update on the state of the Arctic system. We are Arctic scientists and the editors of this peer-reviewed assessment. In the report, we take a diverse look across the region’s interconnected physical, ecological and human components As the report describes, rapid and pronounced human-caused warming continues to drive most of the changes, and ultimately is paving the way for disruptions that affect ecosystems and communities far and wide.“
• Some dramatic and high-profile retail robberies have plagued California stores in recent months. However … is theft as rampant as some in the retail industry claim it is? According to the Los Angeles Times, that answer is a definite no. Key quote: “Although some retail and law enforcement lobbyists cite eye-popping figures, there is reason to doubt the problem is anywhere near as large or widespread as they say. The best estimates available put losses at around 7 cents per $100 of sales on average. It’s easy to get attention for sensational claims, however, particularly when they come from official sources. Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Assn., told the San Jose Mercury News that in San Francisco and Oakland alone, businesses lose $3.6 billion to organized retail crime each year. That would mean retail gangs steal nearly 25% of total sales in San Francisco and Oakland combined, which amounted to around $15.5 billion in 2019, according to the state agency that tracks sales tax. Can that be right? In a word: no.”
• Related: These retail robberies have nonetheless prompted a number of state Democrats to all of a sudden take tough-on-crime stances. Our partners at CalMatters offer examples and then explain: “‘It is time that the reign of criminals who are destroying our city … come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement … and less tolerant of all the bulls—t that has destroyed our city.’ … These Tuesday comments did not come from Fox News commentators or even California conservatives. They came from California Democrats—(including) San Francisco Mayor London Breed … signaling a definitive shift in the party’s approach to crime ahead of the 2022 elections.”
• In the latest salvo over the abortion battle taking place in the U.S., the FDA today made it a whole lot easier to obtain abortion pills. The Associated Press explains: “The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday permanently loosened several key restrictions on abortion pills, including a long-standing requirement that the medication be picked up in person. Under the change, millions of American women will be able to get a prescription via an online consultation and receive the pills through the mail. FDA officials said a scientific review supported broadening access, including eliminating the restriction that limited dispensing to a small number of specialty clinics and doctor’s offices.”
• DAP Health has announced it is opening a sexual health clinic in Indio. From the news release: “On Nov. 29, DAP Health signed a lease for a building in Indio to open a sexual wellness clinic. The organization hopes to open the new space by June 2022. Free services will include STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing and treatment (gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis), HIV prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP; post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP), and HIV and hepatitis C testing. … In 2019, 25% of all HIV-positive test results at DAP Health were Hispanic men.”
• One of the most prominent members of the Coachella Valley’s theater scene announced he will be stepping down at the end of this season. From a news release: “Ron Celona, the Founding Artistic Director of Coachella Valley Repertory, the professional equity performing arts theatre company with its own playhouse in Cathedral City, California, announced he will retire after this current season wraps up at the end of April 2022. Celona, who started CVRep in 2008 in a small storefront theatre in Rancho Mirage, has helped it become a nationally recognized performing arts organization. … This heralds some changes for CVRep which will now be forming a special committee to do a national search for a new artistic director and creative leader.”.
• And finally … you really need to go and read this obituary for Renay Mandel Corren, as published in The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. Really, trust me. I promise. Just do it.
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