Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: May 18, 2023

Over the last three-plus years, SARS-CoV-2 has reminded us, time and again, that nature will decide when we’re done with COVID-19; it doesn’t matter what us humans want.

Now, it appears that mpox (formerly monkeypox) is doing the same.

Earlier this evening (Thursday), we received this message from the city of Palm Springs:

While no new cases have been reported to RivCo Public Health, wastewater testing in Palm Springs shows the presence of Mpox for the first time since the end of February. The testing covers May 1–8 and indicates active Mpox in the Palm Springs area at the time the samples were collected.

There is no indication how many individuals may have been infected or how far the virus had spread from the source. Public Health has not reported a new case in Riverside County since December 2022.

“The data provides us with a good opportunity to remind the public that Mpox is still active in our community and there are easy steps that can be taken to protect each of us,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health. “There are services available, including testing and a very effective vaccine, that can help slow and stop the spread of Mpox. Educating yourself about the virus is also critical to preventing the spread of Mpox.”

Given the recent news, covered in this space, about cases beginning to reappear across the country—especially in Chicago—this news was expected.

The rise in cases has caused the federal government to sound the figurative alarm. The Los Angeles Times yesterday reported:

“Spring and summer season in 2023 could lead to a resurgence of mpox as people gather for festivals and other events,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a health alert on Monday.

The CDC warned that without additional vaccination and other virus-mitigating measures, a rebound outbreak could “be as large or larger than in 2022.”

The good news here is we have an effective vaccine—but it’s far from perfect. As NPR reported today: “Three new studies show that two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine are somewhere between 66% and 86% effective at preventing mpox among people at risk.”

The bad news is that we may very well be looking at another summer mpox outbreak—because nature doesn’t care what we want.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Hub of Artistry: The CREATE Center for the Arts Gets Ready for Another Move—and Needs Community Support

By Kevin Fitzgerald

May 16th, 2023

Moving to a larger building with a more flexible and adaptable interior has become an urgent need for the CREATE Center for the Arts—and the nonprofit is trying raise $2 million to do so.

The Girl Club: Meet NBC Palm Springs’ Ceci Partridge, a Badass Journalist, Mom and Writer

By Kay Kudukis

May 17th, 2023

Meet Ceci Partridge, a mom, a funny person, a writer and an assignment editor/assistant news director at NBC Palm Springs.

Independence and Love: Guide Dogs of the Desert Works to Meet a Huge Need Across the Country

By Charles Drabkin

May 18th, 2023

Guide Dogs of the Desert provides mobility, companionship and independence for the blind and visually impaired with dogs whose abilities are tailored to meet the individual needs of their clients.

Hiking With T: It’s Rattlesnake Season—and We Can Expect to See a Lot of Them This Year

By Theresa Sama

May 16th, 2023

Not only is it rattlesnake season (April to October); it’s peak rattlesnake-mating season—and hikers need to be alert.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for May 18, 2023!

By Staff

May 18th, 2023

Topics this week include scarecrows, Lady Justice, secure fortresses, parallel and totally unrelated discussions—and more!

Dusty Wings Presents Check to Tools for Tomorrow (Nonprofit Submission)

By Suzanne Fromkin

May 17th, 2023

Flight attendant fellowship Dusty Wings presented $8,000 to Tools for Tomorrow.

More News

Florida continues to pass undemocratic, bigoted new laws. The latest batch, according to The Associated Press: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills Wednesday that ban gender-affirming care for minors, target drag shows, restrict discussion of personal pronouns in schools and force people to use certain bathrooms. … DeSantis presented a narrative that expert panels in the nation’s major medical associations have said is false, such as the idea that children are routinely being ‘mutilated.’ While he said he is protecting parents’ rights, his opponents say he is denying the rights of parents with transgender kids.”

Related: A Florida teacher is being investigated for showing students a Disney movie that includes a gay character. Yes, really. CNN says: “(Jenna) Barbee says she played the 2022 animated Disney movie ‘Strange World’ to a classroom of fifth graders while their peers were finishing some standardized testing. The Disney film tells the story of a family of explorers and features a gay character. Though Barbee says the students’ parents had previously signed permission slips allowing their children to watch PG-rated movies, one parent complained and reported the teacher to the state Department of Education after ‘Strange World’ was shown.” Sigh.

A USC study has tallied up COVID-19’s estimated effects on the U.S. economy though the end of this year—and, boy, it’s a big number. According to The Conversation: “The economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. will reach U.S. $14 trillion by the end of 2023, our team of economists, public policy researchers and other experts have estimated … Based on data from the first 30 months of the pandemic, we forecast the scale of total economic losses over a four-year period, from January 2020 to December 2023. To come up with our estimates, our team used economic modeling to approximate the revenue lost due to mandatory business closures at the beginning of the pandemic. We also used modeling to assess the economic blows from the many changes in personal behavior that continued long after the lockdown orders were lifted—such as avoiding restaurants, theaters and other crowded places. Workplace absences, and sales lost due to the cessation of brick-and-mortar retail shopping, air travel and public gatherings, contributed the most.”

UCSF researchers say post-Roe v. Wade abortion bans are keeping health care providers from giving patients standard care: “The report … shows that health care providers have seen increased morbidity, exacerbated pregnancy complications, an inability to provide time-sensitive care, and increased delays in obtaining care for patients in states with abortion bans. This has impacted both patients and providers and has deepened the existing inequities in the health care system for people of color. These stories paint a stark picture of a post-Roe clinical landscape, detailing harm not only to patients, but also to health care providers who are now being forced to follow medically unnecessary laws that negatively impact their patients’ health.”

SFGate reports that the state’s cannabis industry could be in deep trouble: “California’s pot industry could be on the verge of an ‘extinction event,’ with pot shops going out of business as they miss tax payments and sink under millions of dollars of debt. Debt problems have plagued the industry for years—a 2022 report estimated that the industry was collectively sitting on over $600 million in debt—but a change in tax law that took effect this year has stakeholders worried the mounting debt bubble will finally become fatal. A San Francisco politician introduced a law this year in the state Legislature that would crack down on pot businesses that don’t pay their debts. State law recently shifted the burden for paying cannabis excise taxes from distributors to retailers, with the first tax payments due May 1. Retailers have historically had the most trouble paying their bills, and it appears that many shops lack the cash to pay their state excise taxes, according to new state tax data obtained by SFGATE.”

Palm Springs police have arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting men he met via online apps/websites. The Los Angeles Blade reports: “Police announced the arrest of Hakan Isik on Wednesday as a result of an ongoing criminal investigation into the sexual assault of multiple men he had met via online dating apps by Palm Springs Police Department detectives. Isik, 56, a resident of Desert Hot Springs and the primary suspect in the case, was taken into custody by PSPD and later transferred to the Riverside County Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning. … The case had been opened in January after PSPD investigators received initial sexual assault information from one of the victims, Rand Snell, who was hospitalized after his online hookup with Isik, who he said allegedly anally injected him with methamphetamine without his consent and then violently sexually assaulted him.”

• And finally … I am a Los Angeles Dodgers fan—a very disappointed Los Angeles Dodgers fan—after the team dis-invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their upcoming Pride Night following complaints. As a result, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, among others, has called on the Dodgers to scrap the whole night. Los Angeles Times columnist Dylan Hernandez is letting the Dodgers have it: “Imagine if Stan Kasten was the president of the Dodgers when Jackie Robinson was about to break baseball’s color barrier. Kasten might have sent Robinson back to the minor leagues, citing the ‘strong feelings of the people who have been offended’ by Robinson’s inclusion on the roster. Being on the right side of history requires a backbone, and this version of the Dodgers doesn’t have one. Being on the right side of history requires conviction, and this version of the Dodgers doesn’t have any. They’re just another blood-sucking business.”

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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...