Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Dec. 29, 2021

We’re coming to your inbox a day early, because we have some significant news to share.

The really, really truly awful part: There’s likely more COVID-19 right now in the Coachella Valley than there’s ever been before—and omicron is just getting started.

The slightly hopeful part: Thanks to vaccines, better treatments and the nature of the omicron variant, this pandemic spike will be somewhat different than the ones that came before it.

We normally include the latest Palm Springs wastewater SARS-CoV-2 test results in the Monday Indy Digest. However, those results were not posted as of late Monday afternoon, likely due to the Christmas holiday. But they’re posted now … and the news is rather bleak.

Here’s the text that accompanies this graph: “The average number of viral copies detected at the City’s wastewater treatment plant has significantly increased. This is the third straight week of increases confirming the upward trend. The sample from Monday, December 20, 2021 measured 1,844,562 copies/L and then Tuesday’s sample went down to 801,427 copies/L the next day.”

Then, there’s this: “The data from December 20th continues to detect the Delta and Omicron variants in the Palm Springs wastewater. Of the detected variants of concern, 6.5% had the signature mutations associated with the Delta variant and 73.9% had the signature mutations associated with the Omicron variant. The data from December 21st detected 7.4% had the signature mutations associated with the Delta variant, and 81% had the signature mutations associated with the Omicron variant.”

Given that these testing samples were taken eight and nine days ago, and given how quickly omicron cases are increasing in other parts of the country and world, it’s very likely that as of now, there’s more SARS-CoV-2 in the wastewater than there’s ever been before—and that means that more people in Palm Springs have COVID-19 than ever before. Of course, we’ll know for sure when the test results come in for this Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 27 and 28) early next week. Don’t be surprised if we obliterate previous records in the coming weeks.

Now let’s get back to the slightly hopeful part: Omicron apparently causes milder disease than the delta variant does. And vaccinations and boosters generally offer protection from severe cases. So, yes, hospitalizations and deaths are going to inevitably rise—but probably in smaller proportions than in previous COVID-19 waves.

I said it on Monday, and I’ll say it again: The next six weeks or so are going to be among the worst of the pandemic. A whole lot of people are going to get sick. There will be a rash of postponements, cancellations and closures. Bear down; buckle up; and be safe. But we’ll get through this … just like we have before.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Music and History: Organizers of the Inaugural Oasis Music Festival Want to Show Off Palm Springs’ Extensive Entertainment Legacy

By Matt King

December 28, 2021

The first Oasis Music Festival is slated to take place Wednesday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, Jan. 30, at 20-plus venues, mostly in the city of Palm Springs.

A Note From the Editor: Publishing a Monthly Print Edition Is Challenging During These Pandemic Times

By Jimmy Boegle

December 28, 2021

As we kick off our 10th year of publication, we ask you to please be safe and careful during these uncomfortable times.

The Venue Report, January 2022: Bill Burr, ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ 98 Degrees—and More!

By Matt King

December 29, 2021

A look at scheduled entertainment events around the Coachella Valley and high desert in January.

The Lucky 13: Thomas Cazares, Guitarist of When Tides Turn

By Matt King

December 28, 2021

Get to know a little about the musical history of Thomas Cazares, When Tides Turns’ guitarist.

Best of Coachella Valley Winners’ Advertising Spotlight!

More News

The Palm Springs International Film Festival has been cancelled. From a news release: “Based on the current rise of COVID cases, the Palm Springs International Film Society has announced that the Film Festival will not take place this year from January 7-17. This follows the cancellation of the January 6 Film Awards. After thoughtful consideration, the Film Society feels this is the most responsible decision to ensure the safety of our patrons, filmmakers, and staff. Those who have purchased festival tickets and passes will receive a refund. For most, the refund will be returned to their original method of payment.
At this time Palm Springs ShortFest is scheduled to return June 21-27, 2022. The Film Festival and Film Awards will return to an in-person event in January 2023. The Film Awards will partner with Entertainment Tonight to celebrate this year’s honorees with details to follow. The festival will announce juried award winners from the official selection on January 15 via press release and social media.”

• I am just going to cut and paste these two sentences from the Monday Indy Digest by way of reiteration: If you have any plans outside of your own home for the next few weeks, double-check to make sure wherever you’re going is still open, and whatever you’re doing is still happening. There are, and will be, a lot of omicron-related cancellations and closures. In recent days, AsiaSF Palm Springs and Boozehounds have cancelled New Year’s Eve parties. Dezart Performs has pushed its production of The Mountaintop from January to March, and cancelled the planned March production of Grand Concourse. I know of several restaurants that have temporarily closed out of an abundance of caution.

Here’s the Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending Dec. 26. (District 4 is the Coachella Valley and mostly rural points to the east.) I suspect we can call this report “the tip of the iceberg.” It shows cases, hospitalizations and the weekly positivity rate (up to 6.4 percent) all on the rise. I expect all of those, especially cases and the positivity rate, to be much higher on the next report.

Our partners from CalMatters offer up brief video explainers on 11 new California laws taking effect in the new year. A taste: “California has a critical housing shortage: The median home price broke $800,000 in 2021, and some experts say California needs about 3 million new homes for the growing population. But for decades, strict zoning laws have allowed developers to build mostly single-family homes. With these two new laws, housing construction is going to look different.”

• If you have not had your fill of depressing pandemic news yet, here’s another heaping dose of awful, compliments of the fine investigative reporters at ProPublica. I’ll let the sub-headline speak for the story: “The pandemic killed so many dialysis patients that their total number shrunk for the first time in nearly half a century. Few people took notice.”

• I once had the pleasure (?) of getting berated by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. I was a young reporter for the Reno News & Review newspaper, and Reid was in our office for a visit when he let me have it for a story I’d written that said a certain political candidate pulled out of a race because they had not received the level of support Reid had initially promised. (The story was accurate; he just didn’t like it.) Anyway, Reid had his say … and then he kept on returning my calls whenever I reached out. One of the great figures in the U.S. Senate over the last century, and a great person all around, Harry Reid died yesterday at the age of 82. Here’s the Nevada Independent’s obituary on the former Senate majority leader.

• And finally … an Amazon Alexa tried to murder a kid. Yes, really. CNBC explains: “Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, is not designed to endanger human lives but that’s exactly what it did over the weekend when it told a 10-year-old girl to touch a live electrical plug with a penny. The suggestion was given out via an Echo smart speaker after the girl asked Alexa for a ‘challenge to do.’ ‘Plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,’ Alexa said. An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday that the error had been fixed. WTF?!

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The Indy Digest will be back on Monday to kick off 2022 … unless we’re back sooner because of some big, breaking news. In any case; stay safe out there—and, as always, thanks for reading.

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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...