Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Aug. 18, 2022

Recent news stories have made it increasingly —and depressingly—apparent that the monkeypox outbreak will not be easy to stop—nor is it likely to be stopped anytime soon.

As of this writing, the number of cases reported in Riverside County stands at 109, with the vast majority of those cases in the Coachella Valley. (Peruse the county’s new monkeypox-statistics dashboard here.)

First, up: ABC News looks at monkeypox breakthrough cases among people who have received the vaccine.

As demand for monkeypox vaccines increases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has begun to receive preliminary reports on the efficacy of the shots, which suggests there are breakthrough cases occurring, officials said. …

This occurrence of breakthrough infections is not new, officials noted, explaining that a limited study from the 1980s demonstrated that the vaccines offered about 85% protection against monkeypox.

“(The) vaccine is not a silver bullet,” officials said, “that every person who feels that they’re at risk and wishes to lower their own level of risk (has) many interventions at their disposal, which includes vaccinations where available, but also includes protection from activities where there may be a risk reducing [the] number of sex partners, avoiding group sex or casual sex, and, specifically, when a vaccine is, in fact, administered, waiting until that vaccine has the time to produce a maximum immune response.”

Second: More and more people are getting it—and not all of them are men who have sex with men. ABC News says:

A child in Oregon has tested positive for monkeypox, state health officials announced Wednesday, marking the ninth reported pediatric case in the U.S.

“We have a known connection to a previously diagnosed case,” Dr. Dean Sidelinger, health officer and state epidemiologist at the Oregon Health Authority, said in a press release. “This child did not get the virus at school, child care or another community setting.”

The case has been linked to an adult monkeypox infection that was confirmed last month, officials said, adding that public health authorities received the positive test result on Aug. 15. …

A total of 116 presumptive and confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in Oregon, including 112 men and four women.

Third: Humans can give monkeypox to animals, too. A professor of veterinary medicine, writing for The Conversation explains:

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places—where it has historically been absent—resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

Let’s repeat that last sentence and take it in: If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places—where it has historically been absent—resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.


That said, all hope is not lost. NPR reports:

Finally, we have a glimmer of good news about monkeypox: The outbreaks in some countries, including the U.K., Germany and parts of Canada, are starting to slow down.

On top of that, the outbreak in New York City may also be peaking and on the decline, according to new data from the city’s health department.

All these outbreaks are “far from extinguished,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Donald Vinh at McGill University in Montreal. But there are signs that, in some places, “they’re a bit more under control than they had been.”

For example, in the U.K., the number of new cases reported each day has steadily declined since late July, dropping from 50 daily cases to only about 25. (By contrast, here in the U.S., daily cases are still increasing. Since late July, the U.S. daily count has risen from 350 new cases to 450 cases.)

Some health officials credit the monkeypox vaccine—and its quick rollout—as the key factor that’s slowing the spread of the virus in the U.K.

The vaccine, it should be noted, has NOT had a quick rollout here. So things are going to get worse—for a while—before they get better.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Aug. 18, 2022!

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Topics touched upon this week include radio towers, pirate ships, black holes, crisis actors—and much more!

More News

The federal government is dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to help California combat the “megadrought.” The Los Angeles Times says: “On a tour of increasingly parched California on Thursday, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited a water recycling project in Irvine to tout her department’s allocation of more than $310 million to combat a western megadrought; fueled largely by climate change. Joined by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, Haaland stood before heavy equipment at the Syphon Reservoir Improvement Project and said she felt ‘overjoyed’ to announce the funding of 25 water recycling projects, 20 of which are in California. ‘These projects will advance drought resilience by bolstering water reuse and recycling techniques while supporting over 850,000 people in providing clean, reliable drinking water to families throughout the West,’ Haaland said. … Haaland’s announcement comes a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that California could stand to lose 10% of its water supply by 2040. The governor released a pledge to revamp the state’s strategies to meet the challenges of a ‘hotter, drier future,’ including boosting its water recycling capacities.”

• Back in the midst of the pandemic’s pre-vaccine days, we regularly linked to news stories about interesting studies in this space—and we always included this caveat: Take any new study’s findings with a figurative grain of salt the size of a boulder. So … Time reports on a new study that seems to indicate that the omicron variant is even more contagious than first thought: “More than half of people—56%—who are infected with the Omicron variant are not aware of their infection. That’s the conclusion of a small study published on Aug. 17 in JAMA Network Open. It’s good news, in some ways, since it underscores the fact that Omicron tends to cause relatively mild symptoms (or no symptoms at all) in vaccinated people. The downside is that many people are likely spreading the virus unintentionally. … The findings support early data from around the world suggesting that throughout the pandemic, anywhere from 25% to 40% of SARS-CoV-2 infections have been asymptomatic, which presents challenges for public-health officials trying to control the spread of the virus.”

Our partners at CalMatters examine Assembly Bill 257, which would make California the first state to “assign labor liability to fast food corporations and not just their individual franchise owners.” More: “The fast food bill is one of the most contentious measures the Legislature is considering during its final weeks in session. The California Chamber of Commerce and the state restaurant association have lobbied hard against it, arguing the bill would upend the franchise business model and ultimately raise costs for franchise owners and consumers. On Wednesday, a group of franchisees flooded the Capitol to oppose the bill. The Service Employees International Union and its Fight for $15 campaign led a series of strikes this summer to rally for the bill’s passage, including an overnight rally at the Capitol this week. Currently most workers who allege wage theft, say, at a McDonald’s, Burger King, or a Jack in the Box can only name the owner of their specific franchise location as responsible for paying them back—even as they work under the banner of a multibillion-dollar fast food corporation.”

The CNN headline is intriguing: “A monumental case looks to crack open the world of auto-warranty robocalls.” Tell me more, please: “A new lawsuit in Ohio is trying to cut them off at their source, following a years-long effort across the public and private sectors to turn the tide on the scourge of robocalls once and for all. In a complaint filed last month by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the ringleaders of the auto-warranty robocall scheme are identified as Roy Melvin Cox, Jr. and Aaron Michael Jones, two California individuals described as repeat offenders of US telemarketing rules. Using a web of shell companies, aliases and fly-by-night phone providers allegedly under their control, Cox and Jones have allegedly sent billions of robocalls nationwide since 2018 offering vehicle service contracts misleadingly characterized as car warranties, according to the suit. The scheme that inundated consumers with calls they never consented to has made millions of dollars, Ohio alleges, by acting as a middleman between call victims and salespeople for shoddy service contracts. ‘It is the most sophisticated illegal robocall operation I have ever seen, by an order of magnitude,’ said an enforcement official at the Federal Communications Commission, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.”

Would you like some cleaning solution with your Wild Cherry Capri Sun? If the answer to this question is “no,” you may want to check to see if your particular pouch is part of a recall. CNBC reports: “Kraft Heinz recalled thousands of Capri Sun pouches on August 12, due to possible contamination from a cleaning solution. Approximately 5,760 cases of Capri Sun juices are being recalled, all of which are only one flavor: Wild Cherry Flavored Juice Drink Blend beverages. ‘The voluntary recall comes after diluted cleaning solution, which is used on food processing equipment, was inadvertently introduced into a production line at one of our factories,’ the company wrote in a statement. Kraft Heinz was made aware of the issue after receiving several complaints from customers about the taste of the affected Wild Cherry flavored juices. … If you’re wondering if your Capri Sun juice was recalled, check the pouch for a ‘Best When Used By’ date of June 25, 2023. Kraft Heinz said it is working with multiple retailers and distributors to stop the circulation of drinks that were possibly affected.”

• And finally … local blues great Kal David died on Tuesday, at the age of 79. Brian Blueskye profiled Kal—whose real name was David Raskin—for the Independent in 2016. Blueskye wrote: “When I asked David which of his records was his favorite, he asked me if I had kids, and implied that choosing a favorite album would be like choosing a favorite child. However, he then talked about the experience of making his latest album, Living the Dream, with his partner, Lauri Bono. ‘We found ourselves in Germany, and we were offered the chance to go into the studio,’ he said. ‘This was all with German musicians, and I called my drummer in New York and asked if he could join us in Germany. He came over and did the record with us. It was a great experience, and I told the studio owner, who is also an organ-player and the engineer, that it was the best experience we ever had in a studio. … Anytime anything was getting tense at all or people were questioning what was going on, the owner would invite us upstairs to eat. There’d be 14 of us taking in a meal.’” So long, Kal. Our thoughts are with Lauri Bono and the rest of Kal’s loved ones.

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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...