Indy Digest: Aug. 12, 2021
If I may be honest with y’all for a moment … I have to confess that I was NOT looking forward to assembling this Indy Digest.
While I truly love all of you fantastic readers—you give me a professional purpose—I am beyond sick and tired about talking about COVID-19, mask mandates, hospitalizations and whatnot.
But, alas, I have to.
The Delta variant is hurting a lot of people right now. The hospital system in Mississippi is on the verge of failing. ICU bed availability in much of Texas is at an all-time low. Florida hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at a new high. Louisiana is getting federal help in dealing with a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations among children.
And even places where vaccination rates are on the higher side of the scale are starting to get slammed by the Delta variant. The Washington Post reports:
Two-thirds of Americans in highly vaccinated counties now live in coronavirus hot spots, according to an analysis by The Washington Post, as outbreaks of the highly transmissible delta variant—once concentrated in poorly vaccinated pockets—ignite in more populated and immunized areas still short of herd immunity.
The Post analysis illustrates how rapidly the state of the pandemic changed in July from a problem for the unvaccinated to a nationwide concern, though life in highly vaccinated states is still safer.
The good (?) news—good that it’s happening, but awful that it has to happen—is that more places are starting to require masks and/or proof of vaccinations.
Cathedral City followed in Palm Springs’ footsteps by instituting a mask mandate in indoor public places, and phasing in a vaccination or negative-test requirement for bars and restaurants. AEG will require proof of vaccination or a negative test to get into its venues and festivals, including Coachella. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that teachers and other school employees must be vaccinated or tested regularly. The city of San Francisco is going one step further and requiring proof of full vaccination before going to an indoor bar or restaurant—and a negative test can’t be substituted.
Meanwhile, for reasons I do NOT understand, Republicans in many places are doubling (or tripling or quadrupling … heck if I know) down on their opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
There will come a time that the news here in the Indy Digest will be primarily about things other than SARS-CoV-2. But it’s going to be a while.
From the Independent
Delta’s Damage: The Desert Healthcare District Calls for More Mask, Vaccination Mandates—but Most Public Agencies Refuse to Heed the Call
By Kevin Fitzgerald
August 10, 2021
Desert Healthcare District CEO Dr. Conrado Barzaga issued a strongly worded public statement, urging all eligible unvaccinated residents of our valley to get vaccinated immediately.
By Matt King
August 11, 2021
Dead Talk Back, a solo project by James Montenegro, released a self-titled debut album on Aug. 3. The Bandcamp bio describes the songs as “synth-based mood music.”
August 12, 2021
An excerpt from Desert Hot Springs author Bruce Craven’s new novel, Sweet Ride.
Unsung Heroes: Meet Claudia Herrera, Who Works With Olive Crest to Help At-Risk Children and Their Families
By Madeline Zuckerman
August 10, 2021
Claudia Herrera is an instrumental part of Olive Crest’s successful Wraparound Program, which works with at-risk children and their families in a comprehensive team approach.
August 12, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s Independent comics page include disco treehouses, cave frogs, hydroxychloroquine, rum, and more!
• Hey, here’s some good news: Palm Springs International Airport is adding yet more nonstop flights, to exciting seasonal destinations like … Provo, Utah, and Des Moines, Iowa? Yep! From the news release: “The new seasonal routes to Des Moines and Indianapolis will operate on Thursdays and Sundays starting November 18, 2021, and the seasonal service to Provo will operate on Fridays and Mondays starting November 19, 2021. All three routes will be operated on one of Allegiant’s Airbus A320 family aircraft offering 156 to 186 seats. Service to Des Moines is scheduled to operate into March 2022, and flights to Indianapolis and Provo will operate into April 2022.”
• And now back to COVID-19 news: MedPage Today reports that there’s evidence that this fourth, Delta-driven wave won’t be as deadly as the last wave: “Increasing vaccination rates among Americans may result in a decoupling between infections and deaths—meaning that new cases might rise more steeply than fatalities. This trend was evident across the pond: At the peak of the U.K.’s most recent spike in mid-July, the 7-day average of new daily infections was around 47,000 cases (approaching its 60,000 peak from January). But so far this month, the country has seen around 80 deaths per day. ‘In the past with that level of infection, we would have seen over 1,000 deaths a day,’ said Graham Medley, PhD, professor of infectious disease modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.”
• Remember all that talk of “herd immunity” a year or so ago? Well, it’s never gonna happen. CNBC reports: “Sir Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told British lawmakers Tuesday that as COVID vaccines did not stop the spread of the virus entirely—with vaccinated people still able to be infected and transmit the virus—the idea of achieving herd immunity was ‘mythical.’ ‘I think we are in a situation here with this current variant where herd immunity is not a possibility because it still infects vaccinated individuals,’ said Pollard, one of the lead researchers in the creation of the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford vaccine.”
• The Los Angeles Times editorial page has sounded alarm about the spread of fake news sites (we mean actual fake news) in California: “Politically funded websites that advance a partisan agenda under the guise of publishing local news are sprouting up across California. The majority of them are operated by a shadowy entity called Metric Media, which operates 74 distinct websites across the state that masquerade as legitimate local newspapers. These disturbing findings are contained in the ‘California News Integrity Report,’ a document released recently by NewsGuard, an entity that rates news sites with the goal of separating reliable sources of journalism from purveyors of false or misleading information.”
• Border Patrol apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border are at a 21-year high. The Washington Post says: “Among the 212,672 migrants taken into U.S. custody in July were 82,966 family members and 18,962 unaccompanied teenagers and children—an all-time high. The unaccompanied minors’ custody requirements have once more overwhelmed the Biden administration as it struggles to care for them safely in the middle of the pandemic. Biden officials predicted earlier this year that the volume of people crossing the border would decline with the summer heat. Instead, Central American adults and children are crossing again in large groups of 300 or more, and U.S. border facilities are jammed with migrants shoulder-to-shoulder in detention facilities.”
• Our partners at CalMatters look at some of the incentives employers are offering to would-be employees during these weird times: “Reign Free, founder and CEO of Red Door Catering in Oakland, has been struggling to fill about 15 roles. One challenge, she says, is that part-time on-call staff can actually make more money from unemployment benefits. Free already offered her staff health benefits, vision and dental coverage, unlimited time off and free lunch every day. Now she’s considering extending employees’ mental health coverage and bringing a yoga instructor on site for class once a week. Larry Cromwell, who owns Maribou salons, a chain of four salons in Folsom and Roseville, says he had always wanted to let stylists own shares of the company. When he saw salons shutting down and stylists leaving the industry during the pandemic, he knew he had to have a competitive employment package.”
• And finally … a sociologist, writing for The Conversation, explains, as the headline of the story puts it, “How gay men justify their racism on Grindr.” Key section: “The gay men I connected with tended to make one of two justifications. The most common was to simply describe their behaviors as ‘preferences.’ One participant I interviewed, when asked about why he stated his racial preferences, said, ‘I don’t know. I just don’t like Latinos or Black guys.’ That user went on to explain that he had even purchased a paid version of the app that allowed him to filter out Latinos and Black men. His image of his ideal partner was so fixed that he would rather—as he put it—’be celibate’ than be with a Black or Latino man. (During the 2020 #BLM protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, Grindr eliminated the ethnicity filter.)” Yeesh!
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