Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 8, 2021

While COVID-19 was this Digest’s primary focus for more than a year, we’ve recently moved away from SARS-CoV-2 to talk about other things, because, well, it was time.

However, we’re going to return to COVID-19 for today, at least in this intro, to discuss the fact that I’ve been hearing terms like “post-pandemic” lately—terms which are quite inaccurate, because this pandemic is nowhere near over.

If you and all your loved ones are vaccinated, it may feel like the pandemic is over, because in most ways, for you, it is. You don’t have to worry much about that damn coronavirus seriously sickening you (or worse), because it almost certainly won’t. As of now, the vaccines are all really, really good at preventing serious illness—no matter the variant, and no matter the vaccine.

Given that about 59 percent of us Californians have gotten at least one jab, most of us are pretty darned safe. But … that still means that 41 percent of us aren’t vaccinated. (The Coachella Valley is doing better than the state overall, while Riverside County is doing worse than the state overall when it comes to vaccination rates, for what it’s worth … which is a lot.)

And the now-U.S.-dominant Delta variant is very much causing problems in the state of California. According to a piece in today’s Los Angeles Times: “After months of steady declines, coronavirus infections are once again on the rise in California as the state struggles with slowing daily vaccination rates and the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. While it’s too soon to say whether the upticks are a trend or a blip, health experts and state officials expressed confidence that California’s reopening and the return of something resembling normality were not in jeopardy. ‘This is the call to anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated: Get vaccinated,’ Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a briefing Wednesday. ‘What more evidence do you need?’”

On a local level, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain quite low—nine suspected or COVID-19 positive patients were in the valley’s three hospitals as of yesterday—but hospitalizations are starting to tick up on a countywide level..

It’s also important to realize, on a human level, the pandemic is as bad as ever. As CNBC reported today: “Africa, where less than 2% of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, experienced its worst surge of cases last week since the pandemic began, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The second-largest continent recorded more than 251,000 new Covid cases during the week ending July 4, a 20% increase from the prior week and a 12% increase from the January peak. Active cases in Africa recently surpassed 642,000, eclipsing a second-wave peak of 528,000 active cases in January, according to a BBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.”

Worldwide, we just passed a grim milestone: 4 million known deaths from COVID-19.

If you’re vaccinated, you should thank the heavens you’re one of the lucky few on this planet to be mostly protected from this deadly virus. But your good fortune doesn’t mean we—on a local, state, national or international level—are “post-pandemic.” Because we’re far from it.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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Cannabis in the CV: Finding the Right Cannabis Product Can Be Difficult—but Learning More About Terpenes Helps

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The Weekly Independent Comics Page for July 8, 2021!

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Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include Ava DuVernay, truckloads of dirt, online socializing, Tucker Carlson—and more!

More News

The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert will have a new executive director and CEO as of July 12: Rob Wheeler. The official announcement will be made Monday, but The Center’s Ocotillo Club members got an early heads-up email today. From the release: “A native of the Pacific Northwest, Wheeler joins The Center following 22 years at the New York LGBT Community Center, where he served as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer since 2010. Wheeler led the New York Center through a decade of transformational growth with an array of health, arts, and community programming, growing the annual budget of $8.5M to $20M. … Wheeler succeeds previous CEO Mike Thompson and Interim Executive Director Mary Sue Allen, who will resume her role as Co-chair of the Board of Directors.”

• Gov. Gavin Newsom today called on all Californians—individuals and corporations alike—to reduce water usage by 15 percent. Our partners at CalMatters report: “Meeting the target could save enough water to supply 1.7 million average households for one year, according to state officials. Speaking from windy Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County, Newsom stressed that the reductions are voluntary and urged Californians to make common sense cuts like looking for leaks and running full loads of laundry and dishes. … Newsom also today expanded drought emergency declarations to nine more counties, including three parched Bay Area counties and several along the Central Coast. Fifty counties, home to 42% of the state’s population, are now under drought emergencies.” (Riverside County and much of the rest of SoCal are among the eight counties that are NOT under a drought declaration. Yet.)

Also from CalMatters: The fustercluck that is California’s unemployment system has gotten so bad that the bank that administers much of the program wants out: “Bank of America, which since 2010 has had an exclusive contract with the state to deliver unemployment benefits through prepaid debit cards, wants to end the contract—even though the Employment Development Department just renewed it for another two years. The news, first reported by ABC 7 in San Francisco, comes about a month after a federal judge—as part of a class-action lawsuit first reported by CalMatters—ordered Bank of America to stop using an automated fraud filter that blocked tens of thousands of legitimate claimants from accessing their benefits after they reported suspicious account activity. … Bank of America’s desire to end the contract is striking, given that both the bank and the state rake in merchant fees whenever an unemployment debit card is swiped. EDD has pocketed millions in fees amid the pandemic:”

• Rep. Raul Ruiz issued a press release yesterday slamming the Bureau of Indian Affairs for allowing the mess that has developed at the Oasis Mobile Home Park. (Here’s a primer from the Independent we ran back in March.) From Ruiz’s press release: “This week, Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) revealed that local Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) leadership had allowed the Oasis Mobile Home Park to operate without a business lease and in unsafe conditions for more than 13 years prior to the ongoing drinking water crisis. Ruiz began his investigation earlier this year after local BIA officials failed to take meaningful action to fulfill their responsibility under the federal trust responsibility for Tribal lands. … ‘For over a decade, the BIA refused to act on numerous safety hazards at the Oasis Mobile Home Park,’ said Dr. Ruiz. ‘This raises serious concerns about the ability of local BIA officials to enforce the law and protect the health and safety of my constituents.’ … Ruiz authored a directive in the Fiscal Year 2022 Interior Appropriations bill directing the Pacific Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to submit a list of all outstanding business permit applications and/or businesses operating without an approved permit on Tribal land and develop a plan to increase compliance with permitting laws. The bill is expected to be voted on by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.”

• If you’re vaccinated, you will almost certainly be getting a booster shot in the near future. CNN reports: “Pfizer said Thursday it is seeing waning immunity from its coronavirus vaccine and says it is picking up its efforts to develop a booster dose that will protect people from variants. It said it would seek emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for a booster dose in August after releasing more data about how well a third, booster dose of vaccine works. ‘As seen in real world data released from the Israel Ministry of Health, vaccine efficacy in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has declined six months post-vaccination, although efficacy in preventing serious illnesses remains high,’ the company said in a statement emailed to CNN.”

• There have been a lot of fires in downtown Palm Springs as of late—and this has a lot of people concerned. The Palm Springs Post says: “An alarming increase in fires suspected to be set intentionally in recent weeks has business owners in Palm Springs fearing the worst and authorities looking for help. … What’s happening, according to police and fire officials who spoke during the meeting, is frightening not only for local business owners, but for them as well. A review of hundreds of pages of emergency call logs by The Post shows dozens of suspicious fires have been reported in the city during the past 30 days. Authorities suspect palm trees, garbage dumpsters, empty fields and even buildings are being intentionally lit on fire downtown.”

• I’ve long been a fan of journalist Jordan Green, who recently began reporting for Raw Story on the increasing problem that is white-supremacist movements—and he’s in the midst of a four-part series on the influence the Proud Boys have in the Central Valley (and beyond) in California. The first two parts (and the rest of the series as it’s published) can be found here, and it’s some alarming stuff. Just a taste from Part One: “While continuing to forge ties with GOP activists, law enforcement and an anti-LGBTQ crusader, Proud Boys in the Central Valley have interjected themselves in an array of local fights, including opposing police accountability and joining forces with an annual ‘Straight Pride’ rally in Modesto, and counter-protesting residents trying to preserve an LGBTQ-friendly theater in Fresno. They provided security for the Recall Gavin Newsom event in Bakersfield in February. Further south, in Orange County, Proud Boys joined a May 11 protest outside the Los Alamitos USD School Board to oppose adoption of new ‘social justice standards.'”

• If you use Microsoft Windows, and your computer hasn’t been updated in the last couple of days, the company says you really, really need to change that. CNN says: “Microsoft is urging Windows users to immediately install an update after security researchers found a serious vulnerability in the operating system. The security flaw, known as PrintNightmare, affects the Windows Print Spooler service. Researchers at cybersecurity company Sangfor accidentally published a how-to guide for exploiting it. … Microsoft warned that hackers that exploit the vulnerability could install programs, view and delete data or even create new user accounts with full user rights. That gives hackers enough command and control of your PC to do some serious damage.”

• Another week, another added-service announcement from the Palm Springs International Airport. Here’s the one that just dropped today: “Palm Springs International Airport has landed its third Canadian airline, and its twelfth airline overall, with the announcement of Flair Airline’s planned entry into the Coachella Valley. Flair Airlines … plans to start service to Vancouver, Canada in late October 2021. The new service to Vancouver will operate twice weekly … The first Flair flight to Vancouver will depart in late October 2021 and the route will operate two days per week for the valley’s tourist season.”

• Good explanatory journalism does exactly what the term suggests—it explains the who, what, when, where and why behind the news. I’d like to share two recent pieces of explanatory journalism that I personally found enlightening. The first: The Conversation shares five scholarly pieces from its archives that help explain what, exactly, is going on in Haiti: “The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse risks destabilizing the Caribbean country, which was already in crisis over alarmingly high violence and Moïse’s increasingly undemocratic behavior. Here’s some essential background on Haiti, starting with the painful history that underlies so much of Haiti’s modern struggles.”

The second piece, from Slate, explains the history of the condominium—and how that played into the shocking and deadly collapse in Surfside, Fla: Key quote: “The law that established the condominium as a concept in American law turns 60 this year. Champlain Towers South turned 40 this year. An entire generation of buildings is moving from middle age to old age, a time in life that requires complex and expensive decisions for condominiums just as it does for humans. And those decisions will be left up to people like you or me.”

• And finally … if you 1) like dogs, 2) have a home and schedule suitable for puppy-fostering, and 3) want to do some good, listen up: Guide Dogs of the Desert could use your help. From a news release: “The organization is in need of foster families for 10 puppies by August 2021. Were you interested in fostering but needed to wait because of summer vacation plans? You can still help! By becoming a volunteer Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs of the Desert, you’ll be an integral part of the process that helps people with a visual impairment find independence through the use of a Guide Dog. You’ll also spend 18 months with a smart, playful new friend. The puppies are Labrador Retrievers and Standard Poodles, each between 8-12 weeks old when they are placed with a Puppy Raiser. As a Puppy Raiser, your job is to help the dog learn about the world and interact with humans in a variety of situations. The puppy will remain in your home until they are 18 to 24 months old.” Learn more at guidedogsofthedesert.org.

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Earlier today, the daily sent out an alert under the guise of “breaking” news. What was this BREAKING news, exactly? A chain restaurant is opening a location in Palm Desert. Yes, really. While it’s perfectly fine to report stuff like this, calling it “breaking news” is not. Here at the Independent, we don’t do stuff like that. Please support honest, ethical journalism—independently and locally owned, made available for free to all—by clicking the button below and becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Thanks for reading!

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...