Indy Digest: Dec. 13, 2021
800,000—and a new statewide mask mandate.
First, regarding the 800,000: That’s the hideous milestone number of known deaths COVID-19 has caused in the United States. Reuters says the U.S. hit the number yesterday; The New York Times reported today that the country “is on the cusp” of that number.
Reuters also has this sobering tidbit:
Even with vaccines widely and freely available, the country has lost more lives to the virus this year than in 2020 due to the more contagious Delta variant and people refusing to get inoculated against COVID-19.
Since the start of the year, over 450,000 people in the United States have died after contracting COVID-19, or 57% of all U.S. deaths from the illness since the pandemic started.
Some context: The big news item over the weekend—justifiably so—was the deadly tornadoes that ravaged Kentucky and nearby states. As of this writing, NBC News is reporting that 74 Kentuckians are confirmed dead, while 100 others are unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, yesterday alone, COVID-19 claimed 1,298 lives, according to The New York Times tracker.
In California, cases are rising—so much so that this afternoon, the state handed down an indoor mask mandate that will go into effect Wednesday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced the new mandate will start Wednesday and last until Jan. 15. The order comes as the per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in California has jumped 47% in the past two weeks.
“We know people are tired and hungry for normalcy. Frankly, I am too,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday. “That said, this is a critical time where we have a tool that we know has worked and can work.”
California also is tightening existing testing requirements by ordering unvaccinated people attending indoor events of 1,000 people or more to have a negative test within one or two days, depending on the type of test. The state also is recommending travelers who visit or return to California to get tested within five days of their arrival.
The Los Angeles Times’ piece on the mandate also had this tidbit (emphasis is mine): “Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California health and human services secretary, told reporters that state officials are concerned that hospital capacity is still pressed and challenged, particularly in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, in the eastern Sierra, across the Central Valley and in the rural north.”
It’s worth noting that almost all of this increase is due to the delta variant—and that it’s possible omicron could make things even worse.
Should we expect further restrictions down the line? Our partners at CalMatters report that Ghaly says we should not: “Ghaly said state officials are not considering any further restrictions or capacity limits on businesses at this time. ‘Is this the first step along the course we’re familiar with … including closures? Absolutely not.'”
Be careful out there, folks. Please.
From the Independent
The Best of Times: Childhood Difficulties Motivate Painter D.J. Hall to Celebrate Pleasure and Visual Fantasy in Her Hyper-Realist Works
By Robert Crane
December 10, 2021
Hyper-realist painter D.J. Hall: “It’s a real visual fantasy that I create. It’s the best of times people can possibly have—the food, the wine, the beautiful clothing, the happy expressions.”
Lesbian Pulp: Desert Ensemble Theatre’s ‘Beebo Brinker Chronicles’ Masterfully Tells a Tale of Forbidden Love From the 1950s and ’60s
By Bonnie Gilgallon
December 11, 2021
The Beebo Brinker Chronicles takes us back to the days when same-sex love was against the law—and reminds us once again that lust, betrayal, jealousy and heartbreak are the same no matter who you love.
A Holiday Hoot: Desert Rose Brings Back ‘Christmas With the Crawfords,’ and It’s as Hilarious as Ever
By Bonnie Gilgallon
December 10, 2021
Desert Rose has brought back Christmas with the Crawfords for a third year, and the amazing-across-the-board cast is as campy as ever.
Musical Magic: Steven Spielberg Has Done the Seemingly Impossible: He’s Made a ‘West Side Story’ That’s as Good as the Original—If Not Better
By Bob Grimm
December 13, 2021
West Side Story gets to stand alongside Steven Spielberg’s best films and qualifies as one of his greatest achievements.
• Omicron is in the Coachella Valley … according to a wastewater test that’s still in beta. This news comes from the Palm Springs COVID-19 wastewater testing report from Dec. 6 and 7, which was posted by the city today: “The data from December 6 sample only detected the presence of the Delta variant. The Omicron variant was not detected in that sample. However, the data from the December 7 sample did detect the presence of the Omicron variant in the Palm Springs wastewater. While there is much unknown of this new variant, GT Molecular notes that their Omicron test is still in the beta form and their results should be interpreted with caution.” Overall, levels of SARS-CoV-2 were up slightly compared to the week before, but remain fairly consistent—whereas this time last year, levels were increasing exponentially.
• Some decent-ish COVID news: The spike in hospitalizations has not hit the Coachella Valley yet. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations at the three valley hospitals have been remarkably steady, hovering between 55 and 65 over the last two weeks.
• Gov. Newsom wants California to treat assault-weapon manufacturers and sellers like Texas is treating abortion providers. Our partners at CalMatters break it down: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That appears to be Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strategy for counteracting the U.S. Supreme Court’s Friday decision to let stand Texas’ ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. ‘I am outraged,’ the governor said in a Saturday night statement, announcing that he plans to work with state lawmakers and Attorney General Rob Bonta—whom he appointed to the office—to introduce a bill that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells assault weapons or ghost guns. The idea rips a page out of the playbook Texas used to craft its unusually structured abortion law, which essentially transfers enforcement authority from the state to individual people by allowing them to sue abortion clinics and anyone who ‘aids or abets’ the procedure. That, in turn, limits abortion clinics’ ability to challenge the law in federal court.”
• It’s legal for businesses to add extra charges on to purchases, as long as those charges are disclosed—but that does not make it right. That’s the point Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus makes in a piece headlined, “Should you pay an extra fee just for being a Californian? Pizza Hut thinks so.” Key quote: “A reader named Dave shared with me a screenshot of his recent online transaction with a Pizza Hut restaurant in Venice. Attached to his $8.99 order for pasta and breadsticks was a 76-cent ‘service charge.’ Clicking the link for ‘more info,’ Dave was informed that ‘the service fee partially offsets the increased cost of operations in the state of California.’ … This is sheer dishonesty. It’s a company—one of many—trying to pull a fast one on customers by imposing a stealth price hike in the form of an added fee, rather than charging a list price that reflects actual business costs.”
• After all that doom and gloom, let’s take a happy break, and look at what can happen when a city, a car dealership and an amateur sports league team up. From a news release: “The City of Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Palm Springs Gay Softball League, will host Breakfast with Santa, a FREE community event for local children and their families on Saturday, Dec. 18, from 8-11 a.m. at the Palm Springs Pavilion (401 S. Pavilion Way). Reservations are recommended. The ‘all-you-care-to-eat’ pancake breakfast will also include a wide range of activities, including gingerbread house making, handing out presents from Santa, and photos with both The Grinch and the Big Guy himself. With generous contributions from BMW of Palm Springs and Contour Dermatology, each of the expected 200 boys and girls, ages 5-12, will be able to select and take home a brand new toy for Christmas.” If you’d like to register, click this here link. BMW of Palm Springs donated $5,000 for the event, for the record. (Disclosure: I play in the Palm Springs Gay Softball League.)
• In other good news, Palm Canyon Theater is having a great show this Wednesday, Dec. 15, for some great causes. From a news release: “Palm Canyon Theatre will present a special holiday concert, Holiday Sparkle. … The evening will celebrate the holiday season and raise spirits as talented singers perform many holiday favorites and some fun, ‘unconventional’ seasonal tunes. In this season of giving, Palm Canyon Theatre is hosting a food and toy drive for The Community Food Bank @ The Center and Toys for Tots. The Food Bank has provided nutritional assistance for those in need since 2008. Toys for Tots distributes new toys to less fortunate children at Christmas. Please bring your donations of non-perishable food and new, unwrapped toys with you to the theatre on Dec 15, or drop off at the theatre lobby anytime, now through Dec 15.” Tickets to the show are $25 and can be found here.
• On this week’s edition of “What Things Are the Supply Chain Problems Messing Up Now?” we bring you bad news about the availability of chicken tenders via Thrillist, and cream cheese for bagel purveyors via The New York Times.
• And finally … are you sick and tired of awkward Zoom meetings … literally? A researcher, writing for The Conversation, says there’s a scientific reason for being tired out and weirded out by online meetings: “I often felt drained after Zoom sessions, even some of those that I had scheduled for fun. Several well-known factors—intense eye contact, slightly misaligned eye contact, being on camera, limited body movement, lack of nonverbal communication contribute to Zoom fatigue. But I was curious about why conversation felt more laborious and awkward over Zoom and other video-conferencing software, compared with in-person interactions. … We also found that people held the floor for longer during Zoom conversations, so there were fewer transitions between speakers. These experiments suggest that the natural rhythm of conversation is disrupted by videoconferencing apps like Zoom.”
Support the Independent!
Starting in 2022, we’re launching some fun new perks for our sustaining members (i.e. Supporters who contribute monthly or annually), including a special members-only newsletter, and a digital sneak preview of our print edition. If you want to be part of this members-only fun, click on the button below, and sign up! Thanks, as always, for reading.