Indy Digest: Nov. 8, 2021
A lot of people who are smarter than I am think we may be at a turning point in the battle against COVID-19.
Yes, Virginia, we’re still very much in the middle of a pandemic. According to state data, 61 people were hospitalized in the Coachella Valley yesterday due to COVID-19. Per The New York Times’ tracker, yesterday alone, more than 72,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States—along with 1,217 deaths. During the week ending Oct. 20, 13 people died in Riverside County due to the havoc caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Despite all these numbers, as I mentioned last week, the pandemic is still winding down, in a sense, because many of us are just over it. This goes for those of us in the media, too: Look at all the attention the Astroworld tragedy, which happened Friday night in Houston, has gotten in the press
Eight people died … which is five fewer than died of COVID-19 in Riverside County alone during the week ending Oct. 20.
But is it possible that maybe, just maybe, the pandemic could soon wind down further … not just regarding how we feel, but in terms of numbers and facts, too?
Two things point to that possibility. First: The fact that anyone in the U.S. ages 5 and up is now eligible for a vaccine is a big deal. The more people who are vaccinated, the harder it is for SARS-CoV-2 to spread.
Second: Antivirals will likely be available soon—in pill form—for people who get COVID-19, and it looks like they may work incredibly well.
Reuters yesterday published an explainer on these two pills, developed by Pfizer and Merck. Key quote: “Pfizer said on Friday trial results showed that its pill reduced the chance of hospitalization or death by 89% in COVID-19 patients at risk for severe illness given the treatment within three days of the onset of symptoms and by 85% when given within five days of onset.”
So, let’s do some rough and nonspecific math: If we take where we are now … and we then get a bunch of children immunized … and then we significantly cut down on hospitalizations and deaths in people who get symptomatic COVID-19 … things are looking a lot better.
From the Independent
Masterful Musical: Desert Rose’s ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ Is an Intense, Edgy Ride
By Bonnie Gilgallon
November 5, 2021
Desert Rose Playhouse is known for putting on edgy, high-quality productions that push the envelope—and Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about as edgy as it gets.
Content Shifter: 10 New TV Series That Are Worth Streaming
By Bill Frost
November 8, 2021
Out of the 50-plus new shows that have premiered so far during the fall TV season, we managed to scrape together 10 worth recommending,
A Story Situation: With ‘The French Dispatch,’ Wes Anderson Has Missed the Mark With a Film for the First Time
By Bob Grimm
November 8, 2021
The French Dispatch is full of Wes Anderson affectations and very little actual story—and as a result, it feels like self-parody.
• The latest wastewater testing done by the city of Palm Springs, done on Nov. 1 and 2, shows that the amount of SARS-CoV-2 is down slightly compared to the week before. If you look at the graph on the report, you’ll see the testing numbers have been rather consistent, more or less, for the last two months.
• The new LGBTQ+ History and Archives of the Desert—which you can read about here—made a successful public debut during Greater Palm Springs Pride over the weekend. However, the effort to document the LGBTQ+ history of the area is just starting—and you can learn more at ONE-PS’ next “Talk of the Town” Zoom meeting, at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 16. Archive co-founders David Gray and Julie Warren will discuss the project, and Pride president/CEO Ron DeHarte will “share news about the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Wall Of Honor and monument.” Watch the ONE-PS Facebook site for details, and message them for the Zoom link.
• The state of California has issued some of the country’s strictest vaccine mandates. Our partners at CalMatters note this, and ask the question: “Are California’s vaccine rules making inequality worse?” More deails: “Answering that question is an increasingly urgent task for elected leaders and public health officials: Starting today, customers must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter many indoor businesses in Los Angeles, including restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters and beauty salons. Business owners say the mandate—which the city plans to start enforcing on Nov. 29 and could result in fines of as much as $5,000—could be devastating for small businesses in communities with low vaccination rates, which tend to have more Black and Latino residents. … The problem is particularly acute when it comes to public education. Some school districts, including Los Angeles Unified and Oakland Unified, have announced strict vaccine mandates that will require students to get the shot in order to attend in-person classes. But some experts and advocates say the rule—intended to prevent spread of COVID-19 on campus—could also effectively block many Black students from attending school.
• A pandemic-caused travel ban into the United States is finally over. CNBC reports: “The United States on Monday ended a pandemic travel ban that was in place for more than a year and a half, a relief for the tourism industry and for families that have been separated by the rules since the crisis began. … The ban, put in place by then-President Donald Trump in early 2020 and later expanded by President Joe Biden early this year, prohibited visitors from 33 countries, including the U.K., much of Europe, China, Brazil and South Africa. Now, visitors can fly into the U.S. with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, though there are exemptions for travelers under age 18 and passengers from countries with low vaccination availability.”
• Good heavens, this is sickening. From the Los Angeles Times: “A ‘war on books’: Conservatives push for audits of school libraries.” (Before conservatives start writing me angry letters, please know that you could replace the word “conservatives” with “liberals” or “moderates” or “cabbages,” and I would find the headline equally sickening.” It’s the “war on books” and “audits of school libraries” that’s gross.) A snippet: “While school boards in Ramona and Paso Robles have banned so-called critical race theory, (political science professor Richard) Price said book challenges are not as common in California as they are in red states, where viral posts spread faster as they’re picked up by right-wing bloggers and media. … Price said challengers’ objections are often Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ issues, but ‘they dress it up as ideology.’”
• Finally, Congress has passed the long-awaited infrastructure bill. Great! However, a public policy expert, writing for The Conversation, breaks down how the Biden administration can use this spending to accomplish more than initially meets the eye: “Officials are required to follow certain procedures, regulations and guidelines for advertising and gathering bids, reviewing them and then hiring contractors to do the work. This process is called ‘public procurement.’ What’s interesting to me and my colleagues who study public procurement policy is how this massive influx of spending can be used as an innovative policy tool to further the government’s social, economic and environmental goals. Judging from President Joe Biden’s executive orders prioritizing action on climate change in contracting and procurement and ensuring equitable compensation for workers employed by federal government contractors, his administration will encourage the use of the power of procurement to achieve environmental, social and economic policy goals.”
• Another day, another horrifying story about COVID-19 and animals. This one comes from NBC News: “Late last year, as the coronavirus surged across the United Kingdom, Dr. Luca Ferasin and his colleagues started noticing an uptick in patients with symptoms of myocarditis, or heart inflammation. The condition is a rare side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, most commonly seen in men under 30. It can also be caused by infection with the virus itself. But these patients weren’t humans; they were cats and dogs. … Ferasin and his colleagues later found out that many of the pets’ owners had either tested positive for COVID or had symptoms of the disease within three to six weeks of their pets becoming ill.”
• And finally … a message to readers of our print edition: I love y’all, but this interesting initiative taken by papers in Chattanooga and Little Rock is a wee bit outside of our price range, especially considering, y’know, our paper is free. “In 2018, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had a big problem. The state’s largest newspaper, based in Little Rock, was projected to lose money for the first time in 25 years,” The Washington Post writes. “Publisher and owner Walter Hussman considered his options…. Hussman’s alternative—eliminating the daily print newspaper to save on publishing and delivery costs—is one that an increasing number of local papers have attempted in an era of rapidly declining advertising revenue. But instead of simply telling readers to switch to the paper’s website, the Democrat-Gazette gave every single subscriber an iPad—and then sent out a fleet of tutors to show them, one-on-one, how to use the devices to read a digital replica of the newspaper.”
Support the Independent!
As I just mentioned, we make our newspaper—both online and in print—available to everyone for free. However, it costs a lot to produce and distribute what we do. If you have the ability to do so, and you value what we do, we ask you to consider helping us out by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Thanks, as always, for reading!