Indy Digest: June 3, 2021
So, uh, can we start saying that, locally, the pandemic is over?
The obvious technical answer is: No, we most certainly cannot. As of yesterday, there were still 13 patients in local hospitals who were either SARS-CoV-2 positive or suspected to be. For the week ending May 30, 82 people in Riverside County’s District 4—that’s the Coachella Valley and rural points to the east—tested positive for the virus. COVID-19 is still very much in our community—and remains a threat, particularly to the members of our community who are not vaccinated.
But … for those people who are fully vaccinated, it’s really starting to feel like the pandemic is over locally. Just 12 days from now, almost all restrictions on businesses will go away. Events are allowed again. Hugs and handshakes and in-person meetings are back. Just 110 miles away, Dodger Stadium on June 15 will celebrate “Reopening Day”—by welcoming a full-capacity crowd for the first time since COVID-19 arrived.
So … what’s the answer to the question I posed in that first paragraph—at least in a non-technical sense? Because I am naturally a skeptical person, and because SARS-CoV-2 has kicked us in the teeth so many times over the last 15 months—I can’t help but fret about variants because, well, I just can’t—I am personally going to say no, we shouldn’t start saying it’s over.
But if you disagree, and you think we can start saying it’s over locally (at least for those of us who are vaccinated) … well, you certainly have a case.
From the Independent
A New School Normal: Mike Swize, the New Palm Springs Unified Superintendent, Talks About the District’s Goals for 2021-2022
By Kevin Fitzgerald
June 3, 2021
An interview with Mike Swize, the incoming superintendent of the Palm Springs Unified School District.
By Matt King
June 1, 2021
June brings Coachella Valley and High Desert performances by various talented tribute acts, an ’80s icon, wonderful Latin-music acts—and more!
By Bill Frost
June 2, 2021
Here are nine recent series with a dozen episodes or less to check out before you inexplicably trade the air-conditioned bliss of home for the […]
June 3, 2021
Topics addressed on this week’s comics page include gerrymandering, liver spots, voter suppression, bleach, and much more!
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• The lineup for the Palm Springs International ShortFest—taking place June 22-28—has been announced. Variety reports: “Riz Ahmed will return to the Palm Springs circuit with ‘The Long Goodbye,’ which he co-wrote with director Aneil Karia. In addition, ‘El Fantasma’ will have its world premiere with Ellar Coltrane (‘Boyhood’) in the starring role as Lee Harvey Oswald. Other highly anticipated shorts include Anders T. Andersen in ‘The Affected’; Pauline Chalamet in ‘After Dark’; Spencer Grammer in ‘Beau’; Will Ferrell and William Jackson Harper in ‘David,’ directed by Zack Woods; Himesh Patel in ‘Enjoy’; ‘Flex,’ directed by Matt Porter; Diana Lin in ‘Lonely Blue Night’; Maya Moore as the subject in ‘Make Him Known’; Charles Rogers in ‘Marvin’s Never Had Coffee’; the voice of Jackie Cruz in ‘Nuevo Rico’ and John Early in ‘The Recorder.'” Read the Independent’s pre-announcement preview here, or go straight to the schedule here.
• There will be no White Party Palm Springs this year, following the death of founder Jeffrey Sanker. The annual weekend series of events (which was last held in 2019 because of, well, you know) is slated to return next spring. While Sanker and the White Party undeniably played a key role in the revitalization of Palm Springs as an LGBT destination, the 2021 event, which had been slated for the fall, was already on tenuous ground due to an eyebrow-raising New Year’s event Sanker’s company held in Puerto Vallarta—at the height of the pandemic. Our sympathies go out to Sanker’s family and friends.
• The state Supreme Court is weighing substantial changes to California’s death penalty. The Los Angeles Times explains: “On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court heard arguments on a change to that long-standing practice, which could potentially overturn hundreds of death penalty sentences in California. At issue is how juries review ‘aggravating’ factors—such as whether a crime was gang-related or involved multiple victims. Defense lawyers in the case argued that to ensure equal application of the death penalty, state law and the state Constitution require juries to be unanimous in their reasoning on each factor.”
• Our partners at CalMatters report that the state is looking into whether California should offer reparations of some sort: “California kicked off a two-year study into how the state might compensate African Americans for slavery and its lingering effects on Tuesday, when a newly formed reparations committee met for the first time. The first-in-the-nation committee is the result of Gov. Gavin Newsom last year signing a bill authored by then-Assemblymember Shirley Weber, whom he subsequently appointed as California’s first Black secretary of state. The nine-member task force will draft an apology to Black Californians and recommend ways the state might make up for discriminatory policies, which could include issuing direct payments to the descendants of enslaved people or passing laws to close racial disparities.”
• Also from our partners at CalMatters: An examination of state vaccination data finds that there’s a wide disparity in rates from county to county. “A CalMatters analysis of state vaccination data found that in nine counties, less than a third of residents ages 16 and over were fully vaccinated as of last week. In 45 of the state’s 58 counties, less than half were vaccinated. Two remote Sierra Nevada counties—180 miles apart along Highway 395—illustrate California’s extremes: Lassen County is at the bottom with only 21% of residents 16 and older fully vaccinated, while Alpine has a rate more than three times higher, at 69%.”
• To-go cocktails will continue to be a thing in California through at least 2021. The Associated Press says: “Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that the state will continue allowing restaurants to sell takeout alcohol and keep expanded outdoor dining through the end of the year. Restaurants turned to takeout and outdoor dining during the past year as coronavirus restrictions severely limited indoor service.” It’s worth noting that a bill currently making its way through the Legislature would allow to-go cocktails permanently.
• If you’re a fan of longtime Coachella Valley resident Carol Channing, take note. From a press release: “Fans and admirers of the legendary Broadway icon Carol Channing may bid on one-of-a-kind pieces from her remarkable Southern California estate on Thursday, June 17, at 10 a.m. PDT. The live online-only sale will feature treasured Tony, Golden Globe and lifetime achievement awards, as well as Broadway memorabilia, stage-worn costumes and a personal collection of original Al Hirschfeld drawings. A portion of the proceeds will benefit her alma mater Bennington College and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.” Learn more, if you’re so inclined, here.
• Palm Springs Pride will be back—in a big way—come November. That was the big takeaway from the 100th episode of the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast/videocast, which was broadcast live on social media earlier this morning. You can watch it here; be warned that there were some unfortunate sound problems. I also took part in the broadcast, joining Dr. Laura Rush and hosts John Taylor, Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr to talk about how nice it was to be able to be together, in person, after many months of discussing the pandemic via Zoom. It’s worth a watch, regardless of the sound issues!
• While California’s vaccination lottery includes cash and grocery-store gift cards, West Virginia’s includes … well, we’ll let NPR explain: “West Virginia is giving its vaccine incentive program a boost to get more residents immunized from the coronavirus, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday. All residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine will be enrolled in the chance to win a college scholarship, a tricked-out truck, or hunting rifles, in addition to a $1.588 million grand prize. The program, which will run from June 20 through Aug. 4, will be paid for through federal pandemic relief funds.”
• Postmaster General Louis DeJoy—yes, he’s still postmaster general—may be in a little bit of hot water: “The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business, according to people familiar with the matter and a spokesman for DeJoy,” according to The Washington Post. “FBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities, these people said. Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information, one of the people said. … Mark Corallo, a DeJoy spokesman, confirmed the investigation in a statement but insisted DeJoy had not knowingly violated any laws.”
• Well, this is weird. Vice reports: “In a leaked Amazon pamphlet obtained by Motherboard, the company describes warehouse workers as ‘industrial athletes’ and details how its Working Well program will help workers by laying out guidelines to ‘prepare their bodies’ for walking ‘up to 13 miles a day’ or lifting ‘a total of 20,000 pounds’ during a shift. … A new report by the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of some of the country’s largest labor unions, found that in 2020 Amazon workers were severely injured more than 24,000 times, twice the rate of the rest of the warehouse industry nationwide.”
• And finally … some conservatives don’t have a sense of humor, apparently—and one Stanford University Law School student learned this the hard way. SFGate explains: “A Stanford Law School student will be allowed to graduate after university officials determined Wednesday that a satirical flyer meant to mock the campus chapter of the Federalist Society was protected speech, according to a statement obtained by Slate. Nicholas Wallace, a third-year law student, was reportedly notified on May 27, his final day of classes, that a complaint had been filed over a flyer promoting a fake event, ‘The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection,’ sponsored by the Stanford Federalist Society. … The flyer, which was sent to a student listserv on Jan. 25, said Republican Missouri Sen. Joshua Hawley and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton would be speaking on Jan. 6, the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, about ‘violent insurrection,’ adding that insurrection ‘can be an effective approach to upholding the principle of limited government.’“
Barring anything significant, the Indy Digest will be back next on Monday—but we’ll be posting fresh stories on CVIndependent.com between now and then. Stay cool—and as always, thanks for reading!