Daily Digest: Feb. 1, 2021
Technology is great … that is, until you come to depend on it, and then things go haywire.
This thought is on my mind right now, because my CVIndependent.com email account has all of a sudden decided to start rejecting some—but not all—email as junk mail.
So far, I know that the system has rejected emails from an advertising client, my advertising sales person, and a PR person trying to send me photos that I need for a story. I know this, because all three of these people have called and asked me what was going on.
This leads to a big question: How many important emails have been rejected that I don’t know about? And from whom?
So … if you emailed me in the last couple of days, and your message was rejected, please accept my apologies. My server company is looking into it. Supposedly. You see, I put in a support ticket; and I got no response, so I did an online chat with support, but they couldn’t help me, so … they put in a support ticket.
In the meantime, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’re feelin’ lucky, email@example.com still works sometimes. I think.
From the Independent
A Script Stumble: ‘The Little Things’ Is a Great Crime Thriller—Until Bad Screenwriting Trips Up the Film Late
By Bob Grimm
February 1, 2021
Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Jared Leto are great in The Little Things. Rami Malek is, too—until the film goes off the rails three-quarters of […]
And Now, the News
• The city of Riverside has opened a mass vaccination center, open to all county residents currently eligible for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Eventually, the site will do 1,500 shots a day, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, there’s a problem getting to that 1,500-shot-per-day goal: “Appointments are fully booked through Tuesday afternoon, however, at which point the city will run out of its current 2,500 doses, said Mark Annas, Riverside’s emergency services administrator. The city will probably receive an additional allocation Monday or Tuesday, allowing it to open additional appointments throughout the week, he said.”
• Meanwhile, the county is telling people who have received their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to watch for word from the county regarding a second-dose appointment—but that appointment may come a bit later than expected. According to the news release: “For those who received a first dose at a county vaccine clinic (also called points of distribution or PODs), local health officials will reach out to residents through the contact method provided at the first appointment. … Residents who received their first dose at a private provider, should contact that same provider to schedule their second dose. Current CDC guidelines allow up to 42 days for a second dose with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and due in part to limited vaccine supply from the state, it may not be possible to get a second dose at the 21 or 28 day mark originally recommended.”
• One of the reasons for the supply crunch is the fact that the Biden administration has no idea where 20 million or so doses are, because of the previous administration’s lack of competence. Per Politico: “Biden’s team is still trying to get a firm grasp on the whereabouts of more than 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine that the federal government bought and distributed to states but has yet to record as being administered to patients. Only a small percentage of those unaccounted for doses—roughly 2 million, two officials said—is due to lags in data reporting, the Biden team believes. That would mean the rest of the crucial supply is boxed away in warehouses, sitting idle in freezers or floating elsewhere in the complex distribution pipeline that runs from the administration to individual states.”
• Another problem: The CDC’s $44 million Vaccine Administration Management System, built by Deloitte, is apparently so terrible that most states refuse to use it. MIT Technology Review writes: “Unless you’re in one of the few states using it, you may not have heard of VAMS. But it was supposed to be a one-stop shop where employers, state officials, clinics, and individuals could manage scheduling, inventory, and reporting for COVID shots—and free for anyone to use. Instead, ‘VAMS has become a cuss word,’ Marshall Taylor, head of South Carolina’s health department, told state lawmakers in January.”
• In New York state, it seems like the governor is getting more Trumpian by the day: The New York Times reports that nine top officials have left due to the behavior Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “Even as the pandemic continues to rage and New York struggles to vaccinate a large and anxious population, Mr. Cuomo has all but declared war on his own public health bureaucracy. The departures have underscored the extent to which pandemic policy has been set by the governor, who with his aides crafted a vaccination program beset by early delays.” There’s also this key quote: “’When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts,’ Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference on Friday, referring to scientific expertise at all levels of government during the pandemic. ‘Because I don’t. Because I don’t.'” Yeesh.
• Meanwhile, back in California, our partners at CalMatters discuss the increasing concerns about vaccine-distribution equity in the state: “In the affluent desert community of Rancho Mirage, Eisenhower Hospital recently invited donors to get their COVID vaccinations alongside health care workers in what executives called a private ‘test’ clinic. … Hollywood power brokers are flying in private jets to Florida, where vaccine eligibility is looser. It’s not hard to see why health equity advocates are increasingly concerned about emerging disparities in California’s vaccine rollout—the same kind of inequities laid bare in so many other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Their worries have only intensified as California officials expanded vaccine eligibility to the roughly 6.2 million people who are 65 and older. In doing so, the state scrapped complicated eligibility proposals that had prioritized essential workers and lower-income communities already most devastated by the pandemic.”
• Still, encouraging stats are starting to roll in regarding the vaccine’s positive effects. The New York Times explains: “Amid a sometimes chaotic rollout of vaccines across the United States, health experts say a glimmer of good news has emerged: Recent reports of coronavirus cases in nursing homes have declined for the past four weeks, according to federal data. … In part, the development reflects a downward trend in new cases across the country, health experts said. … But the decline in cases in nursing homes is more pronounced than it is nationally, and it also began earlier, Dr. (Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health), said. Residents in nursing homes have been prioritized as among the first groups to get the vaccine.”
• When you do get the vaccine, you should avoid posting a picture of your vaccine card on social media. Why? According to the Better Business Bureau, via CNN: “‘Unfortunately, your card has your full name and birthday on it, as well as information about where you got your vaccine,’ said the BBB in a news release. ‘If your social media privacy settings aren’t set high, you may be giving valuable information away for anyone to use.’ Another issue with sharing your vaccination card on social media is that it makes it easier for scammers to create imitation cards that they can sell, like some did in Great Britain.”
• Nearly a year in to the pandemic, getting tested for COVID-19 is often a pain in the rear. But … “The White House announced Monday it is buying 8.5 million rapid coronavirus tests that can be taken at home without a prescription and that yield immediate results. The $231.8 million contract will allow the Australian company Ellume, which manufacturers the tests, to quickly scale up its production and create a manufacturing facility in the United States. Once running, that factory will be able to produce 19 million tests per month.” So what’s the catch, per The Washington Post? “But the U.S. will have few tests before many Americans are vaccinated. Under the new contract, Ellume is expecting to ship 100,000 tests to the United States per month from February to July.” Sigh.
• Outdoor dining is again open in California. So … did that closure of nearly two months do any good? The experts say it did, per the Los Angeles Times: “California officials estimated that the state’s order—which prohibited nonessential travel; banned outdoor social gatherings; and closed nail and hair salons, museums and outdoor dining—kept as many as 25,000 people from landing in the hospital with a severe case of COVID-19.”
• In non-COVID news, The New York Times just published a detailed look at President Trump’s 77-day effort to overturn the results of the election he lost. It’s fascinating, depressing and scary all at once.
• The good news: The economy should begin to rebound fairly quickly, according to the newest Congressional Budget Office projections, as explained by The Washington Post. However … “the country’s job market is expected to bear the scars of the pandemic recession for years, creating a challenge for policymakers and the new Democratic administration. Under the CBO’s projections, the unemployment rate would average 5.7 percent in 2021; 5 percent in 2022; and 4.7 percent in 2023. The CBO forecasts the unemployment rate will average 4.1 percent from 2026 to 2031, well above the 3.7 percent it averaged in 2019.”
• You’ve probably heard about the military coup taking place in Myanmar … but you probably don’t know much about the background. Well, here’s a very good explainer from Vox. Key quote: “The people of Myanmar seem worried, but not panicked. Though they awoke to a nationwide communications blackout, the country witnessed two coups before Monday—in 1962 and 1988—and so many took similar precautions as in years past, buying extra groceries and withdrawing cash from ATMs. But they must still contend with the jarring scenes of armed soldiers patrolling the streets and the sudden disappearance of once-ubiquitous NLD flags.”
• If you’re a Black Panther fan, we have good news for you: “On Monday, (Disney) announced that it had struck a five-year deal with ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler and Proximity Media to create television programming exclusively for Disney,” CNBC said. “As part of that deal, Coogler will create a series set in Wakanda, the fictional African country home to Black Panther.”
• Finally, the family of Tony Bennett—a regular performer here in the Coachella Valley back before performances stopped being a thing—announced today, via a heartbreaking article in AARP Magazine, that the legendary singer is battling with Alzheimer’s disease. The portion of the article involving the production of an upcoming duets album with Lady Gaga is particularly wrenching. A snippet: “In raw documentary footage of the sessions, he speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer’s patients). ‘You sound so good, Tony,’ she tells him at one point. ‘Thanks,’ is his one-word response. She says that she thinks ‘all the time’ about their 2015 tour. Tony looks at her wordlessly. ‘Wasn’t that fun every night?’ she prompts him. ‘Yeah,’ he says, uncertainly. The pain and sadness in Gaga’s face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls ‘an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure’) sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs.”
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