Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Aug. 9, 2021

Happy Monday, everyone.

As your friendly (if occasionally curmudgeonly) local independent journalist, I have a duty to inform you that the Delta variant is currently kicking the Coachella Valley’s ass—especially the unvaccinated portions.

I’ll share with you three pieces of information showing that the situation here is getting increasingly not-good. First, I present to you local hospitalization statistics, courtesy of Kevin Duncliffe, who has been dutifully tracking these stats over the months of the pandemic. Kevin reports that as of yesterday, there were 70 COVID-19 patients in the valley’s three local hospitals—the highest patient total since Feb. 25—including eight in the ICU. Just a month ago, the local patient total was in the teens.

Next up is this graph of the positivity rate at Eisenhower Medical Center. As of Aug. 5, the Eisenhower Health positivity rate was up to 14.5 percent.

And finally … the city of Palm Springs has resumed weekly wastewater testing for COVID-19, and the trend is definitely going in the wrong direction (even if the readings were better last week than the week before).

Be safe. Mask up. And get vaccinated, please, if you haven’t already!

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Cash for Jabs: Some California Community Colleges Offer Incentives to Students Who Get Vaccinated—but Not College of the Desert

By Emma Hall and Matthew Reagan, CalMatters

August 6, 2021

Most of California’s 73 community college districts are choosing to encourage or incentivize vaccination—but not College of the Desert.

One Stop Music Shop: Throw the Goat’s Brian Parnell Wants to Help the Music Community Via His New Audiowild Studios

By Matt King

August 9, 2021

Throw the Goat frontman Brian “Puke” Parnell has just opened a recording studio, rehearsal spot and performance space, Audiowild Studios, in the middle of Idyllwild..

Killer Reboot: In James Gunn’s Hands, ‘The Suicide Squad’ Soars to Excellence

By Bob Grimm

August 9, 2021

James Gunn takes the fun elements of comics and melds them with the dark, disturbing spirit of an adult graphic novel to create The Suicide Squad.

More News

• COVID-19 vaccinations will apparently soon be required for all members of the U.S. military. The Associated Press says: “Members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon Monday and endorsed by President Joe Biden. In memos distributed to all troops, top Pentagon leaders said the vaccine is a necessary step to maintain military readiness. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the mid-September deadline could be accelerated if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.”

• On the flip side, our partners at CalMatters report that there will apparently not be a statewide vaccination requirement for California teachers: “State lawmakers … have yet to issue a vaccine mandate for public school teachers, arguing that a mask mandate, increased ventilation and other existing safety measures are enough. Legislators have put the decision in the hands of local officials, but most school districts haven’t made vaccination a requirement for teachers either because they’re still exploring the legality of a mandate or there isn’t enough support from local teacher unions. The California Teachers Association is strongly supporting vaccines, but has so far stopped short of endorsing a vaccination mandate for all public school teachers.”

A move by Apple to scan all iPhone photos for child pornography has some privacy advocates quite concerned. NPR says: “Matthew Green, a top cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins University, warned that the system could be used to frame innocent people by sending them seemingly innocuous images designed to trigger matches for child pornography. That could fool Apple’s algorithm and alert law enforcement. “Researchers have been able to do this pretty easily,” he said of the ability to trick such systems. Other abuses could include government surveillance of dissidents or protesters. ‘What happens when the Chinese government says, ‘Here is a list of files that we want you to scan for,’ Green asked. “‘Does Apple say no? I hope they say no, but their technology won’t say no.'”

• Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a very real chance of losing his job in next month’s recall election. According to CNBC: “… Complacency among Democratic supporters and the rollout of new coronavirus pandemic health orders may pose real threats to Newsom’s chances of survival. ‘Democrats have not had urgency, and that’s Newsom’s greatest challenge at this point,’ said Democratic consultant Michael Soneff. ‘His ability to convince Democrats to return their ballot over the course of a month is going to make all the difference in whether or not he wins against the recall.’ Recent polls show that more voters oppose Newsom’s recall than support it, but an enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters has created uncertainty.”

• NPR examines the study of the coronavirus outbreak that occurred in Provincetown, Mass., several weeks ago, and comes to this conclusion, as explained in the story’s headline: “How A Gay Community Helped The CDC Spot A COVID Outbreak—And Learn More About Delta.” Key quote: “The speed of the investigation—and the exceptional participation from the mostly gay men involved in the outbreak—helped the CDC learn new information about the delta variant. And it was that new information, in part, that prompted the agency to change its guidance for how vaccinated people should keep themselves safe at this stage of the pandemic—including a return to masking indoors.”

The Palm Springs Post honors the life of Felipe Cuahuizo, a popular server who died of COVID-19 last week: “Staff at Manhattan of the Desert said Thursday that Cuahuizo leaves behind a legacy of hard work and kindness. Customers donating in his memory recall him as their favorite waiter in the desert. ‘There were customers who came every weekend for years just to sit in his section,’ recalled Kimberly Guzman, one of the Manhattan managers. … Cuahuizo was the sole wage earner for his wife and four children, prompting Guzman to start an online fundraiser in hopes of helping the family.” As of this writing, that fundraiser is close to the $20,000 goal … but not there yet.

• And finally … are you ready for robot lawyers? Yes, really. Well, sort of. Two law professors, writing for The Conversation, explain: “… As we discovered in a recent research collaboration to analyze legal briefs using a branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, lawyers’ jobs are a lot less safe than we thought. It turns out that you don’t need to completely automate a job to fundamentally change it. All you need to do is automate part of it. While this may be bad news for tomorrow’s lawyers, it could be great for their future clients—particularly those who have trouble affording legal assistance.”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...