Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: April 25, 2022

Every so often. the Indy Digest will get an email from a reader who is sick and tired of reading about COVID-19 in this space.

I get it. I am just as sick and tired of reporting on the pandemic. That said … COVID-19 is not going away, and I have some news to report. So if you need to avert your gaze, please do.

That news: COVID-19 levels are definitely increasing in Palm Springs wastewater. Here’s the report from testing done on April 18 and 19. It showed 352,611 and 368,255 viral copies per liter of wastewater on those days, respectively. That’s up from 218,995 and 260,648 the week before that, and 145,652 and 189,674 the week before that.

What does all this mean? Well, let’s start off with the glass-half-full approach: These numbers are still tiny compared to the insane levels we were seeing during the omicron surge in January, when testing hit a high, uh, sewage-mark of 6.4 million. These numbers are also well below the numbers approaching 2 million we saw during the December 2020-January 2021 spike that overwhelmed hospitals.

Now, let’s take the glass-half-empty approach: It’s accurate to say these wastewater SARS-CoV-2 levels have doubled in two weeks. It’s also accurate to say that since the city started wastewater testing in August 2020, the only months that have had higher averages than April 2022 (so far) were months when we were either entering, in the midst of, or coming down from one of the three surges we’ve had so far.

Going back to the half-full glass: We are, as a whole, far better prepared to deal with COVID-19 than we were during any of the previous spikes—even the omicron one just three months ago. We have better antivirals; more people have some level pf immunity; and the most vulnerable people can now get second booster shots.

As for that half-empty glass … well, face masks are done. They’re over. I took an airplane flight last week, and I’d guess that less than 10 percent of the people around me were wearing masks.

And we’re starting to see things like this happening again at some local businesses:

COVID-19 is again on the rise in the Coachella Valley. As for how bad this spike gets … well, we’re all going to find out soon enough.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Candidate Q&A: Meet the Two Candidates Running for Riverside County Sheriff

By Kevin Fitzgerald

April 25, 2022

We ask the current Riverside County sheriff and his election opponent some questions.

Being Nic Cage: ‘Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ Isn’t as Weird as It Could Have Been, but It’s Good Nonetheless

By Bob Grimm

April 25, 2022

The plot of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent isn’t as bizarre as the man himself, but it has plenty of inspired moments.

Hallucinatory History: Alexander Skarsgard and Gorgeous Filmmaking Overcome a Threadbare Plotline in ‘The Northman’

By Bob Grimm

April 25, 2022

While The Northman is the overall weakest of Robert Eggers’ three films, it is, strangely, the most accessible in some ways.

Coachella 2022: Whipped Cream Hopes Her ‘Dream Come True’ Set Is Just the Start of Something Huge

By Matt King

April 25, 2022

Whipped Cream turned a mid-afternoon Sahara tent set into a dream come true.

Coachella 2022: Wallows Advance to a Better Stage and Set Time for Their Second Coachella Performance

By Matt King

April 25, 2022

Wallows played both the hits and some new stuff during their sophomore Coachella effort.

Coachella 2022: Lawrence Brings Fun and Family to the Early Coachella Crowd

By Matt King

April 24, 2022

With a discography filled with happy, dancy songs, Lawrence was ready for an early set on Friday in the Mojave tent.

Coachella 2022: Emo Nite Melds Familiar Tunes and Special Guests Into a Unique and Nostalgic Performance

By Matt King

April 24, 2022

Emo Nite creates a whole new type of festival performance by mixing DJing, special guests and production elements.

Coachella 2022: Chelsea Cutler, Known for Collaboration, Amasses an Attentive Audience Without Special Guests

By Matt King

April 23, 2022

A set move from Saturday to Friday meant Chelsea Cutler had to play Coachella’s second weekend without her special guests. That proved not to be a problem.

The Lucky 13: Oscar Escobar, Guitarist and Frontman of Selexa, With New Single ‘Tell It So Well’

By Matt King

April 25, 2022

Get to know a little about Oscar Escobar, guitarist and frontman of Selexa.

More News

• College of the Desert will be building its Roadrunner Motors automotive school at the originally planned Cathedral City location after all. According to a news release: “At the April 22, 2022, regularly-scheduled Board of Trustees meeting, the board voted unanimously in favor of approving the original Ecoplex property location as the future site of Roadrunner Motors. The decision follows input from the Wednesday, April 6, College of the Desert special board meeting to present three sites for the facility. The sites included the original option of the Ecoplex, which is adjacent to the Cathedral City Auto Center; an alternate location in Cathedral City along Perez Road; and a location in Indio near the Auto Center. … In October 2021, after careful consideration, College of the Desert sought alternative sites, due to significant rising costs quoted for the original site. Information presented by college staff included an in-depth analysis of the options before the college as well as a deep financial review of the original site and comparable sites. This was necessary to ensure that the college is being a good fiscal steward of public funds.” While COD is engaging in some revisionist history here—back in October, college President Martha Garcia and other COD officials said they were “choos(ing) a new site” rather than simply considering other options—all’s well that ends well.

• Every so often, a palm tree skirt will fall on top of a car in downtown Palm Springs, leading people to ask: Why doesn’t the city trim those darned things? Our friends at the Palm Springs Post decide to get this question answered. A key portion: “While they can cause injury (mostly cuts and scrapes) and damage to vehicles parked underneath, it’s unlikely they carry enough weight to crush a person. While people in the city have perished when trees of all kinds fell on them, The Post could find no evidence a collapsing palm tree skirt was a cause of death in the city. … Still, the most likely way to die involving a palm tree is by falling while trying to trim the fronds. Trimming is dangerous work undertaken by scores of landscapers each year in the Coachella Valley.”

A perfect storm of inflation/higher prices, ending moratoriums and pandemic-caused unpaid bills could soon lead to a whole lot of utility shutoffs in the U.S. CNN reports: “Many lower-income people have been protected from losing heat over the winter by state-based annual moratoriums. But that protection has largely ended for the season, forcing consumers to contend with utility bills that have grown even bigger as the cost of energy has skyrocketed. As of March, the price for natural gas is 21.6% higher than it was a year earlier, while electricity is up 11.1%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The price of heating oil and propane is up 70.1%. At the same time, the increased costs of food, housing and gasoline are crowding out some families’ ability to pay their natural gas, heating oil and electric charges. Consumer price inflation hit a new 40-year high in March.”

Our partners at CalMatters report on the efforts of Californians to prepare for an expected wave of anti-abortion laws across much of the rest of the country: “California abortion clinics are building new facilities closer to transit hubs and training more staff. A package of a dozen abortion rights bills moving through the Legislature could expand the number of providers, provide financial assistance to women traveling to California to terminate their pregnancies, and legally protect the doctors who treat them. As new restrictions rapidly sweep the country in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that may dramatically scale back or even end the constitutional right to abortion, California is preparing to step into the void — and welcome a possible surge of patients losing access in dozens of other states.”

• The latest part of Elon Musk’s never-ending quest to prove that billionaires suck: He now owns Twitter. NPR tries to explain what this all means: “The Tesla and SpaceX CEO describes himself as a ‘free speech absolutist’ and has criticized what he sees as excessive moderation on online platforms. He nodded to these beliefs in his statement announcing the purchase by saying that ‘free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.’ Musk has argued that social networks should not remove comments that, while offensive, are still legal. During a recent interview at a TED conference he said, ‘If it’s a gray area, let the tweet exist.’ … Experts who study social networks fret about Musk’s push to loosen the rules of engagement on Twitter. They say that could give license to harassers, trolls and others who abuse the platform to target people.”

• And finally … I came across a quote in The Press-Enterprise over the weekend that literally made me laugh out loud, even if the ideology behind the quote is the exact opposite of funny. The headline: “Temecula’s 1st drag show gets strong community support, despite some opposition.” It’s a nice piece about Temecula’s Drag Brunch Experience. But as for that opposition: “‘This is not something we want to see in our city,’ (Temecula City Council Member Jessica) Alexander said in an interview March 31, days before the first brunch was held. ‘I personally believe this kind of behavior doesn’t bring a good atmosphere — we don’t want Vegas here in Temecula.’ Among Alexander’s concerns was that more drag, if it became a regular occurrence in the city, could lower property values and lead to an increase in crime, vandalism and litter.

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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...