Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 26, 2021

In my monthly note to our August print-edition readers (you can read the tweaked-for-the-web version here or below in the “From the Independent” section), I offer a tip o’ the hat to local business and their employees, because they have been the primary COVID-19-precautions police in our society over the last year and a half.

Here and there, local governments around the country are starting to re-instate mask mandates, requiring that everyone—vaccinated or not—wear them indoors in business and other public spaces. The reason: The Delta variant is tearing through the country, particularly among unvaccinated Americans. Los Angeles County led the way with a new indoor mask mandate, and now other counties and cities, such as St. Louis, are following suit.

Perhaps Coachella Valley city governments should consider doing the same.

Three reasons: First, it really would do some good. Given what we know about the dangers of indoor transmission, the effectiveness of masks, and the Delta variant’s extreme contagiousness, an indoor mask requirement would have a benefit, no doubt—and it would protect vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike (given the vaccines are not foolproof, as we know).

Second: For the vast, vast majority of us, wearing masks is really no big deal. It’s a minor inconvenience and annoyance, sure, but that’s all it is. I just wore one for 10 hours straight—taking it off only to have brief sips of drinks and eat a Biscoff cookie—on a cross-country journey last week, and I survived.

Third: It would protect the aforementioned local business owners and employees. Employees who have no choice but to be inside at these businesses for hours on end would be at less of a risk of contracting COVID, and the requirement would give businesses cover, to at least some degree, from crabby and disrespectful customers who don’t want to mask up, because the new mandate would be a government requirement, not a business one.

It really, really stinks that we’re in this position so soon after the “full reopening” which took place just six weeks ago. But we are—because SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t care what humans think.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

A Note From the Editor: Local Businesses Deserve Our Thanks for Being on the Front Lines of ‘Policing’ COVID Rules

By Jimmy Boegle

July 26, 2021

Coachella Valley business owners and their employees who have tried to do the right thing over the last year and a half deserve our gratitude.

Restaurant News Bites: Get Deals Via the Summer Eats Pass; Dave’s Hot Chicken Is Here; and More!

By Charles Drabkin

July 23, 2021

The latest Coachella Valley food news, including insider deals thanks to Greater Palm Springs; the Purple Room has a reopening date; and more!

Aging Sucks: M. Night Shyamalan Turns Dark, Satirical Comedy ‘Old’ Into a Overly Tidy Disappointment

By Bob Grimm

July 26, 2021

M. Night Shyamalan screwing up a film ending is as inevitable as the aging process getting lampooned in Old.

The Indy Endorsement: The Chopped Salad at The Slice Pizzeria Ristorante

By Jimmy Boegle

July 26, 2021

The Slice’s chopped salad features fresh and crisp lettuce, properly proportioned quality ingredients, and just the right amount of delicious dressing.

Murky Mark: ‘Joe Bell’ Is a Well-Meaning Film—but It’s Hurt by an Uneven Lead Performance and Weird Narrative Choices

By Bob Grimm

July 26, 2021

There are times when Joe Bell hits the right emotional notes, but the film is done in by a confusing Mark Wahlberg performance and some bad narrative choices.

More News

• Related to the intro: Don’t expect a mask mandate in the city of Palm Springs anytime soon. The Palm Springs Post reported today: “There are no plans to implement a citywide order requiring masks again at indoor businesses, City Manager Justin Clifton told a group of business owners during a Zoom meeting last week. He added that city officials are closely monitoring COVID-19 cases, both here and throughout the Coachella Valley.” Hmm.

• Riverside County has again started reporting COVID-19 stats each weekday, after cutting back to once a week not long ago. You can thank the Delta variant and the resulting spike in cases for that.

The city of Palm Springs today posted its first COVID-19 wastewater-testing results in two months—and cases are definitely on the rise, although they’re still a mere fraction of what they were during the winter spike. The city is now doing wastewater testing once per month, and the July test showed 209,813 viral copies of SARS-CoV-2 per liter of wastewater. That’s way more than the 8,344 detected in June (when, per the report, the numbers were basically so low they couldn’t be accurately quantified), but way, way below the 1,989,475 detected in December. So … yeah, be careful out there.

• California, the city of New York and the federal Veterans Affairs department all announced today that employees would need to either have proof of vaccination, or be tested regularly. From the Los Angeles Times: “The new guidance is not a vaccine mandate, the likes of which have been announced for municipal workers in some areas of the state, but effectively removes the ‘honor system’ in which some workers were able to self-attest to their vaccination status. … It’s not just California, either. New York City is also going to require city workers to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. And on Monday, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs said it would require healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first federal agency to make such a mandate.”

The Biden administration has purchased another 200 million vaccine doses from Pfizer. CBS News explains: “The federal government is exercising a clause in its contract with Pfizer to buy 200 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including for children under 12 if and when the Food and Drug Administration gives the green light and to prepare for the possibility of booster shots, according to an administration official familiar with the contract. ‘Here’s the bottom line—we’ve always prepared for every scenario,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday, confirming the purchase.”

CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven talks about the quandary the Delta-variant-driven spike has caused for Gov. Gavin Newsom, given the fact that he is in the midst of a recall election. Key quote: “A little more than a month after California fully reopened, the state’s coronavirus positivity rate has skyrocketed from 0.7% to 5.2%—a figure not seen since early February. The highly contagious Delta variant now accounts for nearly 83% of California’s sequenced coronavirus cases—up from 53% in late June and just 6% in late May. … With the Sept. 14 recall election hanging over his head, Newsom has avoided commenting directly on whether he would reinstate mask requirements or lockdown measures, instead emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated. The coronavirus case rate among vaccinated Californians was 2 per 100,000 during the week of July 7-14, compared to 13 per 100,000 among unvaccinated Californians, the state Department of Public Health said Friday. The department also noted that Newsom’s vaccine lottery program slowed the rate at which California’s inoculation rates were declining.”

• COVID is such a weird disease, because it seems to potentially affect virtually everything in a human being, including … possibly causing male fertility issues and erectile dysfunction? Yep. A professor of urology, writing for The Conversation, says: “Contrary to myths circulating on social media, COVID-19 vaccines do not cause erectile dysfunction and male infertility. What is true: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, poses a risk for both disorders. Until now, little research has been done on how the virus or the vaccines affect the male reproductive system. But recent investigations by physicians and researchers here at the University of Miami have shed new light on these questions. The team, which includes me, has discovered potentially far-reaching implications for men of all ages—including younger and middle-aged men who want to have children.

The damn virus may also lead some to get Alzheimer’s, too. Sigh. Per NPR: “What scientists have found so far is concerning. For example, PET scans taken before and after a person develops COVID-19 suggest that the infection can cause changes that overlap those seen in Alzheimer’s. And genetic studies are finding that some of the same genes that increase a person’s risk for getting severe COVID-19 also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s diagnoses also appear to be more common in patients in their 60s and 70s who have had severe COVID-19, says Dr. Gabriel de Erausquin, a professor of neurology at UT Health San Antonio. ‘It’s downright scary,’ he says.”

Time magazine notes that billions of aid dollars remain available for tenants in risk of being evicted—which is especially important since the federal evictions moratorium is about to end: “With just over one week until most evictions can proceed again, billions of dollars remain unused, and states are racing to get the money out the door in time. … Emergency rental assistance funding has dramatically scaled up in the last few months. More than $1.5 billion in rental assistance was distributed to eligible households in June—which is more assistance than the previous three reporting periods combined, according to the Treasury Department. The number of households who received funds in June is nearly triple that of April. The rapid acceleration of spending in the last month, according to interviews with half a dozen federal, state, and program officials, is largely the result of how long it took for states to set up systems capable of dispersing such massive amounts of direct housing aid. Never before in history has the Treasury Department been able to provide local governments with this much money to spend on emergency rental assistance at this speed and scale, a Treasury official says. Now, states are rushing money out the door to prevent a wave of eviction cases from bombarding the court system and homeless shelters as COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the Delta variant rise.”

• I am so, so sorry we’re back to a Digest where almost all of the news is COVID-19-related … but that’s where we are now. So let’s end with a story about how those of us in the Coachella Valley can appreciate the fact that we don’t have to deal with harassment by bears (the non-human type, that is). The Associated Press reports: “A miner who said he was harassed by a bear for seven straight nights in the tundra near Nome was rescued when a passing Coast Guard helicopter spotted the SOS, an internationally recognized sign for help, on top of his cabin. … The man requested medical assistance after the helicopter landed, saying he had been attacked by a bear a few days earlier. The man appeared to have a leg injury and bruising on his torso, the Coast Guard said. The man said the bear had returned to his camp and harassed him every night for the previous week, according to the statement.”

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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...