Indy Digest: Aug. 26, 2021
One of these things is true:
• My husband I somehow picked up rare cases of the flu. In California. In August.
• The rapid test was wrong.
We spent the week before last in San Diego, enjoying a brief respite from the broiler that is the Coachella Valley in August. Toward the end of the week, the hubby developed a mild sore throat; we initially chalked it up to allergies, and nothing more. (We’d been masking up whenever we were indoors in public, and we sat outdoors whenever dined while in San Diego.)
Then I developed a similar sore throat one day later. Then my husband started feeling just generally crappy.
Uh oh. It was clear that this wasn’t allergies. Still, we figured this was “just” a summer cold—a thing which, after taking 2020 off for the most part, is back in a big way. As The New York Times reported last month: “Infectious-disease experts say there are a number of factors fueling this hot, sneezy summer. While pandemic lockdowns protected many people from COVID-19, our immune systems missed the daily workout of being exposed to a multitude of microbes back when we commuted on subways, spent time at the office, gathered with friends and sent children to day care and school. 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.”
While we were pretty sure we had colds, we decided that one of us should go get tested for COVID-19, just to be safe. Because the Delta variant is very much a problem in the Coachella Valley as of now, however, all the drug-store testing options were full for several days—so we decided to fork out the bucks for my husband to go to the rapid-testing place over by the airport’s cell-phone parking lot. It cost “just” an extra $20 to do a combo COVID/influenza test, so that’s what we decided to do.
When the results arrived about an hour after his appointment, we were relieved that the COVID-19 test came back negative. And we were shocked that the influenza test came back positive (for influenza A, to be exact).
I mean, really: To repeat: Who in the hell gets the flu, in California, in August? According to the CDC’s influenza-case dashboard, as of the week ending Aug. 14, clinical labs in the United States as a whole had reported a grand total of 70 flu cases over the most recent three weeks—with just two of those cases in California. Yes, it’s true that most flu cases never get reported to this database, because most people won’t get tested, and I’m not sure all labs report their results … but still, there were just two reported cases in the entire state in the 21 days before the week when my husband’s test came back positive.
The moral(s) of this story: Since the cold season this summer has been bad, there’s a great chance the flu season, when it actually arrives, could be bad, too—and that could place a big burden on our health-care system. Take it from my husband and me: While we’re over it now (other than a lingering occasional cough), this flu or cold or whatever was no fun—so, for yourself and for society, keep masking up, washing your hands and taking precautions. And DEFINITELY get your flu shot—something that, by the way, is already available.
From the Independent
Fighting Isolation: Despite the Delta-Driven COVID-19 Surge, Both the Mizell Center and the Joslyn Center Remain Open for Seniors
By Kevin Fitzgerald
August 24, 2021
Both the Mizell Center and the Joslyn Center have remained open, despite the Delta-variant-driven surge, thanks to both proper precautions and a high vaccination rate among seniors.
Restaurant News Bites: Have Your Proof of Vaccination Ready; Fabio Viviani’s Marketplace Coming to Morongo; and More!
By Charles Drabkin
August 25, 2021
The latest Coachella Valley restaurant news, including the new Palm Springs Bottle Shop; get ready for Luchows Palm Springs; and more!
A Playful Liar: Magician Michael Carbonaro Brings Tricks and Whimsical Deceit to The Show at Agua Caliente
By Matt King
August 26, 2021
Michael Carbonaro, the entertainer and magician who hosts the TV show The Carbonaro Effect, will be coming to The Show at Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage.
By Jimmy Boegle
August 25, 2021
One of the buzz phrases in the media industry these days is “tech stack.” What, exactly, is a tech stack? And why is the Independent’s brand-new?
By Guillermo Prieto
August 24, 2021
A look back at Splash House 2021’s first weekend, via words and photos.
August 26, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s Independent comics page include the high five, owning the libs, Mike Pompeo, pathogens amongst the criminal underbelly, and much more!
• Riverside County is only issuing its “weekly” by-district COVID-19 reports on occasion now. The good news is that they apparently felt like doing one this week, so here’s the District 4 report for the week ending Aug. 22. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points east toward the state line.) Things are definitely not trending well, with the weekly positivity rate at 11 percent, local hospitalizations in triple digits, and three deaths during the week.
• The same goes for the wastewater testing for COVID-19 that the city of Palm Springs is doing. To repeat: Things are heading in the wrong direction.
• And now for a smidgeon of good, if mathematically contradictory, COVID-19-related news, compliments of the Desert Healthcare District: “Two-thirds of eligible Coachella Valley residents are fully vaccinated, the latest numbers from Riverside University Health System-Public Health show. Since Riverside County’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts began in December 2020, 65.7 percent of eligible valley residents, or 247,811 people, have been fully vaccinated as of August 18, 2021. Eligible residents are those 12 years old and older. Among the youngest eligible residents, 12- to 17-year-olds, 37.8 percent are fully vaccinated. When considering all Coachella Valley residents, including those who are younger than 12 and not yet able to get a vaccine, 57.5 percent are fully vaccinated. ‘Our community has made significant strides in protecting residents from this deadly pandemic, and we all should be encouraged,’ said Conrado Bárzaga, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation CEO. ‘The Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative, Riverside University Health System, and every other organization providing vaccines has contributed to this effort. However, the work is far from done. Vaccination efforts are as essential and urgent as before to ensure residents remain safe from COVID-19.'” (They do know that “two thirds” means 66.6 percent, right?)
• Now back to the bad news: Our partners at CalMatters offer the latest on the toll the pandemic is taking on California’s nurses: “Around California—and the nation— nurses are trading in high-pressure jobs for a career change, early retirement or less demanding assignments, leading to staffing shortages in many hospitals. Hospitals are struggling to comply with the state’s nurse staffing requirements as pandemic-induced burnout has exacerbated an already chronic nursing shortage nationwide. But burnout isn’t the only thing compounding California’s nursing shortage: The state’s new vaccine mandate for health care workers is already causing headaches for understaffed hospitals before it is even implemented. Some traveling nurses—who are in high demand nationwide—are turning down California assignments because they don’t want to get vaccinated. Hospitals say they are reaching a crisis point, straining under the dual forces of more people seeking routine care and surging COVID-19 hospitalizations driven by the Delta variant.”
• The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that around Sept. 20, people could start getting booster COVID-19 shots just six months after their second dose, rather than 8 months, as had been previously reported. Today, the CDC rebutted that, sort of.. The Boston Globe (email address required) explains: “Kristen Nordlund, the CDC spokeswoman, said there may have been confusion over what Pfizer, which has begun submitting an application to the FDA for its booster shots, recommends for the timing of its boosters and the plan federal officials ultimately approve. ‘Last week, the administration recommended boosters at eight months,’ she reiterated. ‘All of that is contingent upon regulatory decisions by FDA and recommendations by (the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices). Six months, eight months, it’s all going to depend on a thorough review of the evidence by FDA as well as ACIP,‘ she said.”
• How’s the return to the seas going for the cruise industry? As The Associated Press reports … not great! “Cruise lines have detected infections among vaccinated crew members and passengers, including in an elderly traveler who recently died. Last Friday, the CDC began advising travelers who are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness to avoid cruises. It is also recommending that passengers show both a recent negative COVID test and proof they’ve been immunized. Starting Sept. 3, the Bahamas—a favored stop for cruises—is requiring all passengers 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for ships to dock. That has prompted companies including Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival to announce this week that they are adopting the same requirement. The companies will ask for a government vaccination card or a record from a health care provider. They’ve been able to do so in Florida after a federal judge this month temporarily blocked a state law banning cruise lines from requiring passengers to prove they’re vaccinated.”
• Sigh. When will people realize that the miracle drug for COVID-19 is the vaccine, not horse de-wormers? Here’s some awful news out of Arkansas, via CBS News: “A detention center in Washington County, Arkansas, has been using the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat inmates who have COVID-19, local officials say, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically warned against it. The FDA says the drug, which is frequently used as a dewormer in animals, is not an approved or recommended treatment for COVID-19, and ‘can cause serious harm.’ Eva Madison, a county elected official, raised the issue during a finance and budget committee meeting Tuesday night. Jail officials were presenting their 2022 budget, which included the jail’s physician, Dr. Rob Karas, asking for a 10% increase in the medical services contract.” Sigh.
• Meanwhile, we can’t stop thinking about the heinous name Pfizer-BioNTech gave to their vaccine. NPR explains how this mess (my word, not theirs) came to be: “Brand Institute, the naming agency behind the effort, started working with BioNTech in April 2020, according to the website FiercePharma. Pfizer would later join the branding team. Scott Piergrossi, Brand Institute’s president of operations and communications, told FiercePharma that the goal in naming drugs is ‘to overlap ideas and layer meaning into a name.’ According to Pfizer, the pharmaceutical companies wanted to emphasize COVID-19 immunization and the vaccine’s core mRNA technology. They also wanted to encompass ‘community’ and ‘immunity’ into the final product. Comirnaty touches all of the bases.” My one-word rebuttal: Bleh.
• And finally … there was quite a hubbub yesterday in the Northern California town or Eureka, because someone apparently, uh, attached, an, um, sexual aid to the roof of Old Town Gazebo. Thank heavens that our friends at the Lost Coast Outpost were there to document (with cameras!) the incident, including the dramatic removal of, as the Outpost reported, the “skyward-facing phallus that had been sneakily affixed to the roof of the gazebo sometime, we think, in the last day or so.” So what happened after city workers successfully removed the item in question? “LoCO requested that (one of the workers) hold up his catch for a photo to commemorate this historic occasion. He respectfully declined.”
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