Daily Digest: Feb. 5, 2021
Following the news that Riverside County has opened up more than 30,000 more vaccination-clinic appointments—but only for people 75 years old and up—now is a good time to remind everyone how truly huge the county is.
Let’s say, for example, that you live in Palm Desert. Your city is home to only 50,000 people—give or take a few thousand. Sounds pretty quaint—and in some ways, it may actually feel quaint.
However, Palm Desert is one of nine cities that call the Coachella Valley home. Add up all the people who live in those cities, and the population is around 400,000. If you include snowbirds who don’t “officially” live here, the number is higher, but still, this isn’t exactly what you’d call a huge metro area.
Zooming out just a bit … the Coachella Valley is part of Riverside County—and Riverside County is massive, no matter how you look at it.
In terms of geography, this is the 26th-largest county in the country. It goes all the way from Jurupa Valley west of here, to the edge of Quartzsite on the Arizona state line to the east. I, for some reason, associate Temecula with San Diego more than our area … but it, too, is in Riverside County.
In terms of population … if you’re sitting in your home in, say, 48,000-population Palm Springs, you’re also sitting in your home in the 10th-largest county in the whole country. Some 2.5 million people, including you, call this county home.
This is perspective to keep in mind anytime you deal with something county-related—like, say, when you’re scrambling to get a vaccination appointment at a county clinic.
From the Independent
Informed Dissent: Fables of the Insurrection—the Republican Party Can’t Decouple Itself From Extremism
By Jeffrey C. Billman
February 4, 2021
Given opportunities to confront the extremism they’ve inculcated, Republicans have so far shrugged
February 4, 2021
This week’s alternative comics discuss GameStop, space lasers and Sojourner Truth.
Coming over the weekend to CVIndependent.com: News on the (very tentative) return of live music to restaurants; an update on Salton Sea restoration efforts; and more!
And Now, the News
• Here’s yet another friendly reminder, this time from the director of the CDC, that the pandemic is still raging, and as such, we all should keep Super Bowl parties this weekend to a minimum. According to CNBC: “’Whichever team you’re rooting for and whichever commercial is your favorite, please watch the Super Bowl safely, gathering only virtually or with the people you live with,’ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday at a White House COVID-19 briefing. ‘We must take prevention and intervention seriously.'”
• And here’s yet another friendly reminder, compliments of our partners at CalMatters, that the pandemic is still raging: “Health experts continue to hope that steep spikes in infections and hospitalizations are a thing of the past. But a bumpy vaccine rollout, new, more contagious forms of the virus, and an expected increase in social activity following California’s exit from the stay-at-home order all beg the question: Will the state see another wave of COVID-19? ‘The chance for another surge in California is real; it’s still circulating, COVID is in our communities,’ Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health secretary, said on Tuesday. ‘Our case rates are down, but they’re not low.'”
• The potentially game-changing single-dose, easy-to-handle Johnson and Johnson vaccine is one step closer, after the company applied for emergency-use authorization yesterday. As explained by CNBC: “The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Feb. 26 to discuss the emergency use authorization.” If approved as expected, authorization could follow mere days later.
• The $1.9 trillion stimulus package is several steps closer to actually happening—thanks in part to those Georgia Senate results. After passing the Senate 51-50 due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, the House approved the plan today; however, some details still need to be hammered out. While President Biden has long promised to reach across the political aisle, he harshly criticized Republicans today for not wanting to do enough: “’Are we going to say to millions of Americans who are out of work—many out of work for six months or longer, who have been scarred by this economic and public health crisis—”Don’t worry, hang on, things are going to get better”?’ Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday. ‘That’s the Republican answer right now. I can’t in good conscience do that. Too many people in the nation have already suffered for too long,’” reported The Washington Post.
• Calls for schools to reopen for some in-person learning continue to get louder—including an editorial published today by the Los Angeles Times (which we link to here without endorsement one way or the other). Key quote: “This isn’t to say all students have to go back right now. But in areas where COVID-19 rates are quieting down in California, even somewhat, some school doors should be swinging open. It should start with the most vulnerable students—those with special physical or learning needs, as L.A. Unified was doing safely before the most recent surge. Then the youngest students should be brought back. They are the least able to learn remotely and the least likely to pick up and transmit infection.”
• So long, Lou Dobbs. According to the Los Angeles Times: “Dobbs’ program, which airs twice nightly at 5 and 7 p.m. Eastern on the Fox Business Network, will have its final airing Friday, according to a Fox News representative who confirmed the cancellation. … The cancellation comes a day after voting software company Smartmatic filed a $2.7 billion defamation suit against Fox News and three of its hosts—Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro. The company claims the hosts perpetuated lies and disinformation about Smartmatic’s role in the election, damaging its business and reputation.”
• Tangentially related: “Gun control activist and survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting David Hogg announced on Thursday that he would be launching his own pillow company to compete with MyPillow. Hogg said he would be creating the company along with William LeGate, a progressive tech entrepreneur, to directly compete with conservative MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch pro-Trump supporter who has baselessly spread voter fraud allegations,” reports The Hill.
• It’s possible that in the near future, people will need to show proof of vaccination to travel or do other things. So, exactly how would “vaccine passports” work? The New York Times breaks things down.
• Palm Springs has finally followed in the footsteps of other valley cities by launching a program to assist small businesses. Businesses with no more than 25 full-time employees are eligible for “a zero percent $10,000 loan that will be forgiven if the business stays open for at least six months.” Learn more here, or click here to apply.
• In other Palm Springs news, “Forever Marilyn” is officially coming back. Yes, we’ve heard this before, but now we actually have a date (March 28) and a location (“on city-owned land on Museum Way, near the Palm Springs Art Museum”). Read the news release here.
• The Los Angeles Times published a fantastic piece about the long-lasting troubles some people are having with their sense of smell after getting COVID-19. Portions are horrifying, such as this section that describes the struggles of Mariana Castro-Salzman: “In July, everything turned upside down once more. Flavored drinks started tasting metallic and rotten. Spices, cilantro and onion suddenly tasted off. She couldn’t eat meat or vegetables if they were grilled. Soon, she’d lost about 10 pounds. In August, while on location in downtown L.A. for her job as a costumer, everything—the air, the coffee shop, a nearby generator—smelled like burned rubber. The smells were so overwhelmingly bad, she suffered headaches. That night, she went home and sobbed.”
• COVID-19 case counts in India are plummeting … and nobody is sure why. The Washington Post, via SFGate, says: “Epidemiologists in India say that there is only one likely explanation for the decrease in new cases: The virus is finding it harder to spread because a significant proportion of the population, at least in cities, already has been infected. The decline is not related to a lack of opportunities for transmission. India has fully reopened its economy, with elementary schools being the only major exception. Restaurants, malls and markets are bustling. Masks are common in some indoor settings and mandatory in Delhi and Mumbai, but in many parts of the country, they’re scarcely seen on the streets.”
• The news for the devastated cruise industry keeps getting worse. The Seattle Times reports: “Much of Seattle’s 2021 cruise season could be canceled after Canadian authorities on Thursday extended a pandemic-related ban on large cruise ships in Canadian waters through February 2022.”
• Meanwhile, in Wisconsin … According to The Associated Press: “Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued a new statewide mask order on Thursday, an hour after the Republican-controlled Legislature voted to repeal his previous mandate saying he didn’t have authority to make such a decree.” Sigh.
• Could the loosening of alcohol regulations, which have helped restaurants get more income during the pandemic closures, become permanent? According to the San Francisco Chronicle (registration required): “A post-pandemic California could potentially feature permanent restaurant parklets, open-container zones in cities. and an easier road for opening pop-up restaurants, if a new bill introduced Friday is passed by the Legislature. Sponsored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, the Bar and Restaurant Recovery Act, or SB314, would loosen certain alcohol laws throughout the state. The goal, Wiener said, is to give more flexibility to bars, restaurants and music venues in order to help them stay afloat.”
• The world has lost acting great Christopher Plummer. He was 91. Here’s The New York Times’ remembrance of the Oscar winner.
• Finally … my friend Lynn shared this HuffPost piece with me the other day … and it struck a chord. It may strike a chord with you, too, if you’ve been feeling like you’ve hit a wall as of late. Key quote: “We’ve been at this for a year now, and our fight-or-flight system―the emotional reaction to stress that has been otherwise energizing us throughout the pandemic―is totally overloaded. When that happens, the constant flow of adrenaline starts to drain and apathy settles in. It seems that we’ve all gone over that tipping point. Feeling emotionally zapped, especially in this stage of the coronavirus crisis, is very normal, mental health experts say.”
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