Daily Digest: April 26, 2021
Remember last year, when local and state governments were pleading with members of the public to please, oh please, complete the U.S. Census forms, because California was in danger of possibly losing a congressional seat?
Well, the (much belated) first rounds of Census results were finally released today … and California lost a seat.
That’s not to say the state is shrinking. The Associated Press, via SFGate, explains: “Census Bureau population data released Monday is used to determine how the nation’s 435 House seats are allocated. California remains the most populous by far with nearly 39.58 million people but it is growing more slowly than other states and will see its House delegation drop from 53 to 52. California’s population grew by about 2.3 million people since the 2010 Census but has been nearly flat since 2017.”
The state of New York is also losing a seat … in rather frustrating fashion. As The New York Times explains: “A Census official overseeing apportionment, Kristin Koslap, said that if New York had counted just 89 more people, it would have held onto the seat.”
Elsewhere in The New York Times, the paper explains the potentially huge political repercussions these Census results may have:
“Several of the states gaining or losing seats are key swing states, and the changes to the political map will help determine which party holds majorities in the House through the 2020s, beginning with next year’s midterm elections. Most of the congressional district lines will be drawn in the upcoming months by state legislatures and local commissions that have been given redistricting authority. Republicans control the redistricting process in far more states than do Democrats, because of G.O.P. dominance in down-ballot elections. Democrats, meanwhile, have shifted redistricting decisions in states where they have controlled the government—such as California, Colorado and Virginia—to independent commissions intended to create fair maps.”
It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out over the next two years. Expect some ugly, ugly battles over reapportionment—especially in those states where there aren’t independent redistricting commissions.
From the Independent
Backup Needed: A State Grant Will Help the CVWD Install an Emergency Generator at an East Valley Well That Serves More Than 32,000 Residents and Businesses
By Kevin Fitzgerald
April 22, 2021
Whenever the Imperial Irrigation District has a power outage in the Thermal area, the well-water system that serves many east valley residents suffers an outage […]
Restaurant News Bites: Dining Out to Promote Social Justice; Bar Cecil and Boozehounds Debut; and More!
By Charles Drabkin
April 23, 2021
News on racism at restaurants; new Southern food in La Quinta; the long-awaited opening of Bar Cecil; and more!
Unsung Heroes: Jana Hayes Works With the Palm Springs Animal Shelter to Make Sure the Valley’s ‘Community Cats’ Are Healthy and Controlled
By Madeline Zuckerman
April 26, 2021
Jana Hayes coordinates the Palm Springs Animal Shelter’s Trap Neuter Return (TNR) Program, overseeing a crew of 18 volunteers who trap community cats and transport […]
Pickle’s Party: The Newly Renovated One Eleven Bar Hosts L.A.-Based Drag Queen Pickle and Her ‘Follies’
By Matt King
April 23, 2021
Pickle’s Follies will debut at the recently renovated One Eleven Bar (formerly Studio One 11) in Cathedral City on Sunday, May 2, 16 and 30. […]
Not Completely Terrible: Fans of the Video Game May Enjoy the Fight Scenes in the Otherwise Silly ‘Mortal Combat’
By Bob Grimm
April 26, 2021
Gory, silly and horribly acted, Mortal Kombat is the sort of garbage that we’ve come to expect from a movie adaptation of a videogame—yet somehow, […]
April 22, 2021
The Derek Chauvin trial and police violence dominated the comics page this week. Other topics covered include the idea for a European Super League of […]
By Jimmy Boegle
April 26, 2021
Palm Desert’s French Rotisserie Café offers amazing pumpkin soup—and a whole lot more.
And Now, the News
• The news from the latest city of Palm Springs COVID-19 wastewater report is just a bit worrying. The amount of SARS-CoV-2 detected in samples taken last Monday and Tuesday showed a significant increase in both the amount of the virus overall, and indicators that the more-contagious and more-dangerous British variant is present. This should serve as a reminder that despite the vaccinations and the record-breaking business some Coachella Valley businesses are enjoying, THE PANDEMIC IS NOT OVER. While there’s no cause to panic, these numbers are definitely worth watching over the next couple of weeks. (For background on WHY these numbers are worth watching, read our Feb. 18 story on the matter here.)
• Riverside County will resume using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine later this week. This comes after the federal government lifted the “pause” on the one-shot-and-done vaccine last Friday, following a determination that serious blood clots resulting from the shots were very, very rare. From the news release: “The vaccine will be available starting Thursday at the clinic at Alessandro High School in Hemet. Its use will expand to other fixed locations and mobile vaccine teams next week. ‘Bringing back the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will provide us with another tool to help vaccinate as many Riverside County residents as possible,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County. “We are confident the vaccine is safe and effective.” Board of Supervisors Chair Karen Spiegel, who received the J&J vaccine, noted the importance of the single dose vaccine to protect more Riverside County residents from COVID-19.”
• Related: The county announced last week that appointments at the county-run vaccine clinics were encouraged, but no longer necessary. Yes, you can now walk in to any county-run clinic and get a vaccine without an appointment. Head to the county website for details. If you are 16 or older, you’re eligible now, period.
• As expected, the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has gathered enough signatures to send the matter to voters later this year, the secretary of state announced this afternoon. The Sacramento Bee explains: “Recall supporters needed to turn in 1.5 million valid signatures to trigger an election, and organizers say they were able to collect more than 2.1 million by the March 17 deadline. (Shirley) Weber’s officer reported that more than 1.6 million signatures have been found to be valid. Newsom’s team now has a 30-day window wherein signers are allowed to withdraw their signatures, if they wish, but unless the governor’s team can facilitate a huge withdrawal effort, the recall is likely to result in a special election come this fall.”
• The Biden administration will very soon likely issue new, more-relaxed guidelines on wearing masks while outdoors. CNBC says: “The announcement, which may come as early as Tuesday, could give separate recommendations for fully vaccinated people and those who have not received a coronavirus vaccine. … The administration is still finalizing the guidance, NBC reported. Over the weekend, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated that the new mask guidance was imminent but also warned that Americans should adhere to public health measures until the CDC makes an assessment.”
• Tangentially related, but in an opposites sort of way, if that makes any sense: A new study indicates that when you’re inside, social distancing doesn’t matter all that much to SARS-CoV-2: “The risk of being exposed to COVID-19 indoors can be as great at 60 feet as it is at 6 feet in a room where the air is mixed—even when wearing a mask, according to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who challenge social distancing guidelines adopted across the world,” CNBC says. This is worth a read, as all the news in the study was certainly not bad.
• Fact No. 397,463 that shows how awful 2020 really was comes from The New York Times, which analyzed death rates in the U.S. going back more than a century: “The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s — even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic.” Save this to share with anyone who tells you that COVID-19 concerns were overblown.
• The Los Angeles Times uncovered plans to possibly use the California National Guard, and specifically fighter jets, to scare protesters in the event of civil unrest last year. The story is complex, but here’s a tidbit: “(Sources) said the jet was also placed on an alert status—fueled and ready for takeoff—for possible responses to protests over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer and to any unrest sparked by the Nov. 3 presidential election. ‘It would have been a completely illegal order that disgraced the military,’ one source said. ‘It could look like we’re threatening civilians.’”
• It appears that vaccinated Americans will be able to travel more freely this summer. Per Reuters: “A top European Union official said Sunday that Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to travel to Europe by summer, easing existing travel restrictions. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The New York Times that the union’s 27 members would accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Agency. The agency has approved the three vaccines used in the United States.”
• In other vaccine news, yet more proof that some people are just terrible, compliments of The Wall Street Journal (registration required to read the whole story): “Pfizer Inc. says it has identified in Mexico and Poland the first confirmed instances of counterfeit versions of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech SE, the latest attempt by criminals trying to exploit the world-wide vaccination campaign. Vials seized by authorities in separate investigations were tested by the company and confirmed to contain bogus vaccine. The vials recovered in Mexico also had fraudulent labeling, while a substance inside vials in Poland was likely an antiwrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.”
• The experts at MedPage today look at the likelihood we’ll need COVID-19 booster shots in the not-too-distant future. And the verdict? “Experts have said they do believe it’s likely that boosters will eventually be necessary. When that will be, how often they’ll be needed, and whether that will vary by vaccine brand, or by differences in immune response, is still anyone’s guess.”
• The current drought is causing some farmers to wonder if they have a future in California. “Drought is nothing new to California or the West, and generations of San Joaquin Valley farmers have endured many dry years over the last century. Often, they have done so by drilling more wells,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “However, some growers say they are now facing a convergence of forces that is all but insurmountable—a seemingly endless loop of hot, dry weather, new environmental protections and cutbacks in water allotments.”
• Tangentially related: “Corn futures jumped Monday, hitting their highest level in more than seven years and triggering a pause in trading at the Chicago Board of Trade. … The price spike has come as harsh weather in the Upper Midwest has added to concerns about global corn supply amid a broader rise for commodity prices,” CNBC reports. “’With drought conditions in North and South Dakota continuing to worsen there is added risk to the 2021 planting season which could pressure supply in an already tight marketplace,’ (financial company) Jefferies said in a note to clients earlier this month.”
• A management professor, writing for The Conversation, looks at the fact that some corporations are beginning to rethink their fealty to the Republican Party. Key quote: “The close relationship between corporate America and the Republican Party dates back to the 1970s. Companies provided financial support to conservative war chests and in return received business-friendly policies like reduced corporate taxes and regulations. The alliance has arguably been quite a success for Big Business. Corporate taxes as a share of U.S. gross domestic product are only about 1%, the lowest since the 1930s and down from 4.1% in 1967. But this union has become increasingly strained in recent years over a range of social issues, particularly regarding LGBTQ rights.”
• If this turns out to be fully accurate, this is a huge, life-saving deal for the world. BBC News reports: “A malaria vaccine has proved to be 77% effective in early trials and could be a major breakthrough against the disease, says the University of Oxford team behind it. Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year, mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite many vaccines being trialled over the years, this is the first to meet the required target. The researchers say this vaccine could have a major public health impact.”
• The pandemic has seriously weakened California’s public-school system. Our partners at CalMatters break down the alarming numbers: “California’s public schools lost more than 160,000 students amid the pandemic, the largest enrollment drop in two decades and a likely harbinger of serious educational and financial challenges. The sharp 2.6% decline, announced Thursday by the California Department of Education, doesn’t capture the full effects of the pandemic. The enrollment tally comes from a one-day headcount in October and doesn’t include students who may have left the public school system afterward. But the drop is already steeper than the 155,000-student decline state officials were projecting in January. And it’s disproportionately affecting the state’s youngest students: 88% of the drop occurred in kindergarten to sixth grade, while public preschool enrollment fell by more than 6,000 students.”
• And finally … some people are just, uh, a bit different (read: delusional.) The Associated Press brings us this tale from, where else, Florida: “Courtney Wilson and Shenita Jones invited family and friends to their ‘dream home and estate’ for their weekend wedding celebration: the ceremony Saturday, brunch on Sunday. There was just one problem: The couple didn’t own the 16,300-square-foot mansion and didn’t have permission to use it. The suburban Fort Lauderdale estate had everything: a bowling alley, swimming pool with a waterfall, hot tub, tennis courts, a gazebo and an 800-foot (240-meter) bar. Wilson said it was God’s plan that the couple marry there.” Unfortunately for God and Mr. Wilson, the owner and law enforcement disagreed with these plans.
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