Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Aug. 5, 2021

As the Delta variant continues to jack up COVID-19 case counts, hospitalizations and now deaths—both locally and across the country—indoor mask mandates and vaccination requirements are becoming more common. (More on this in the “More News” section below.)

I think this is a very, very good thing. The Delta variant is hyper-contagious; the vaccines, while not perfect, work very well; closing everything down again would be awful for innumerable reasons.

Most places and venues requiring proof of vaccination are accepting either the state’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record, or a photo of the physical COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card—and I am VERY happy that most places are accepting the latter, because the state’s system is far from perfect.

Trust me, I know from experience.

I first tried to access my digital state record on June 19. I went to the site and put in my name, date of birth and cell phone number, as requested.

This is the text response I received: “Unfortunately, the information you provided does not match information in our system.” Crap.

So, I tried with my email address instead. Same response.

Both my husband and a good friend of ours who got vaccinated in the same place (you may have heard of it; it’s called “Eisenhower Medical Center”) on the same day (with the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine) had no problems getting their records successfully, so I figured something was just slightly off with my record. I, therefore, followed the instructions the state recommends to get it fixed. In other words, I filled out an online form.

I finally heard back from the state via text on July 7: “We have launched a virtual assistant to help correct your vaccination record.” Great! I was asked to essentially provide the same info as before (name, date of birth, cell phone number, email), as well as info on where and when I got vaccinated, via that “virtual assistant.” I did so; the state said it could take 2-3 weeks to hear back.

Two or three weeks passed. No word. So I tried the state’s site again—and no record was found. Bleh.

And then on Saturday, July 31, I received this blessed message from the State Department of Public Health: “We processed your vaccination record review.” Yay! I clicked the link, followed the steps … and got to a record showing just the Moderna shot I got on July 28. The J&J shot was still not listed. (More on following up a J&J shot with an mRNA shot can be found below, too.)


The aforementioned message from the state DPH said that if I still needed assistance, I should call a number, and I did just that on Monday. A friendly, helpful woman on the other end listened to my plight, took my info, and said I’d hear back within two weeks, probably less.

We’ll see how that goes.

I’m very happy the state has this Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record system. I’m glad to know that for most people, it works just fine. But it sure ain’t perfect. Trust me; I know.

—Jimmy Boegle

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The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Aug. 5, 2021!

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August 5, 2021

Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include unruly airplane passengers, protests, sentient jelly, goosepox-23, mask mandates—and much more!

More News

The Palm Springs City Council yesterday unanimously voted to enact an indoor mask mandate, an impending requirement that people be vaccinated or have a recent negative test to go to restaurants and bars (inside), and more. Here is coverage from our friends at the Palm Springs Post: From the city news release::

— Effective immediately, customers, employees and other visitors are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings, such as stores and restaurants, regardless of vaccination status.

— Proof of vaccine or negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours required indoors when entering a bar or restaurant. Restaurants and bars have three weeks to implement the necessary requirements. Deadline is Thursday, Aug. 26.

— Proof of vaccination status or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours required for all ticketed, city-permitted large events, such as Splash House and Dinah Shore Weekend, effective immediately.

— Face coverings required at VillageFest, the city’s weekly Thursday night street fair, beginning Thursday, Aug. 12.

— City employees required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID- 19 test.

• The city’s vote came on the heels of a survey by the Desert Business Association—the valley’s LGBTQ chamber of commerce—of its Palm Springs members (one of which is the Independent). Of 62 responses, 48 (or 77 percent) said there should be a mask requirement for patrons indoors, regardless of vaccination status, while 44 (71 percent) were in favor of a vaccination or recent test requirement for indoor businesses.

A major hospital in San Francisco is now offering mRNA shots to recipients of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. ABC 7 reports: “Even though the CDC is not recommending a booster shot at this time, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and San Francisco’s Department of Public Health have decided to allow an extra coronavirus vaccine for people who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. … ZSFG says people who got J&J will be able to get a second shot of either Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the week at their vaccine clinic. But ‘booster’ is not the word health officials are using to describe it—instead San Francisco’s Department of Public Health is calling it a ‘supplemental dose.'”

• Riverside County didn’t do district-based COVID-19 reports this week, for some reason, but the county is reporting that the countywide positivity rate (as a 7-day average, with a 7-day lag) is now up to a VERY NOT GOOD 10.1 percent. Yikes!

• Meanwhile, in Orange County, comes, uh, this news, compliments of “The Orange County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom over the state’s mandate that K-12 students must wear masks indoors for the upcoming school year. … ‘When necessary, the board will fight to protect the health, safety and welfare of our county’s kids at school. Unfortunately, with the governor’s most recent action to force Orange County’s children, even those as young as 5 and 6 years old, to endure an academic year covering their faces for hours on end, the time to fight has come again,’ the board said in a statement on its website.” #freedom!

• On a related note, here’s a story from a Forbes magazine staffer with the headline, “COVID Cases Among Children Jumped 84% Last Week—Here Are The States Where Kid Hospitalizations Are Increasing.” Some key quotes: “Florida currently leads the nation in kids hospitalized for Covid-19, with 32 pediatric hospitalizations per day between July 24 and 30 (a rate of 0.76 children hospitalized per 100,000 residents), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shared with The Tampa Bay-Times shows. However, officials from major childrens’ hospitals in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas say their facilities are quickly filling with sick children too.”

• While this is all very, very bad, widespread lockdowns a la much of 2020 are not currently on the table—not even here in California. The San Francisco Chronicle explains why: “This surge is distinctive from others over the past year and a half: It’s the first to strike after the widespread rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and both the coronavirus and public health tools for fighting it have changed considerably. The California Department of Public Health said in an email Thursday that between masking, testing and more than 75% of eligible individuals in the state having received at least one vaccine dose, lockdowns would not be necessary. ‘California can continue to keep businesses open and get kids back in classrooms safely,’ the department said.”

• Airline travel continues to be a mess, especially if Spirit Airlines is involved. CNBC says: “Spirit Airlines has canceled more nearly 400 flights—half its Thursday schedule—as the airline tries to end disruptions that have vexed customers since the weekend. The airline blamed a combination of bad weather, staffing shortages and technology problems for the disruptions, which has led to more than 1,700 cancellations since last weekend. … On Thursday morning, about 80% of all U.S. flight cancellations came from Spirit, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.”

• Airline messes aside, the Delta variant is making people question whether they should be traveling at all. The Washington Post is wondering along with you: “For a blissful few weeks this spring, a summer of semi-normal travel seemed not just possible, but almost certain. Flights were booked, hotel reservations were made and vacation time was requested as those with wanderlust or pent-up desire to see loved ones organized their long-awaited excursions. But the hyper-transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus has now forced some would-be travelers to cancel trips and others to consider whether it’s safe to follow through with their plans. … Asking yourself a few questions can help you decide whether to keep your travel arrangements.”

• Moving on from SARS-CoV-2: Some smart ecologists, writing for The Conversation, explain why wildfires are so damn awful these days. The headline offers a big hint: “How years of fighting every wildfire helped fuel the Western megafires of today.”

• And finally: Our partners at CalMatters come to the Coachella Valley to look at the challenges facing Native American colleges—and the benefits these colleges offer. Key quote: “Native students have the highest high school dropout rate and lowest college-going rate of any racial group in California. Family obligations and feelings of isolation within mainstream colleges are just some of the barriers Native students may have to overcome to access higher education. There’s also a complicated relationship between Native communities and public universities that were built on land stolen from Native people, and lingering trauma traced back to the forced assimilation of Native children in boarding schools —  a dark legacy that is only a generation ago for some families. … Advocates say creating more tribal colleges is one way to offset these trends, and the initial results of the three emerging colleges in California are promising. At (California Indian Nations College) in Palm Desert and Kumeyaay Community College in El Cajon, enrollment has remained steady or increased during the pandemic. A third tribal college in Woodland, California Tribal College, will open its doors to students in fall 2021.” (You can read our coverage of California Indian Nations College from our archives here.)

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Jimmy Boegle

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...