Daily Digest: April 16, 2021
Last week’s announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom that the state was planning on, as of June 15, ending the COVID-19 tier system—lifting most pandemic-based restrictions on businesses statewide—made big news.
But the state apparently made another significant change to the tier system that flew under the figurative radar.
I stumbled across this fact earlier this week, when I was poking around various COVID-19 stats—and saw that, technically, San Diego County was in danger of sliding back into the red tier. On the state Blueprint for a Safer Economy page, San Diego County was listed, as of the weekly Tuesday update on April 13, as having a 6.0 adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people.
The criterion to remain in the orange “Moderate” tier is a case rate between 2 and 5.9 cases; the red “Substantial” tier criterion is a case rate between 6 and 10. Elsewhere on that same page, it reads. “If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier.” So … that means that unless San Diego County gets its daily cases per 100,000 back below 5.9, the county will slide back into the red tier as of this coming Tuesday. Right?
According to the County of San Diego Communications Office (the emphasis is mine): “San Diego County’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is currently 6.0 cases per 100,000 residents (as of April 13) and this data point places the region in the Red Tier or Tier 2. (The county remains in the Orange Tier or Tier 3 following recent guidance from the state.) The California Department of Public Health recently advised that unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as low rate of vaccine uptake, a county will only move to a more restrictive tier if hospitalizations are increasing significantly among vulnerable individuals, especially among vaccinated individuals, and both testing positivity and adjusted case rates show a concerning increase in transmission. This is currently not the case in the region and the county remains in the Orange Tier or Tier 3.”
In other words … the tier system, as we know it, is merely advisory now. A county will only backslide into a more-restrictive tier if vaccinations crater, or if all of a county’s numbers really start going to hell.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that none of those things happen in Riverside County … or anywhere else, for that matter.
From the Independent
By Theresa Sama
April 15, 2021
When you are out hiking on the trails, you are in rattlesnake territory—so always keep an eye out for them.
By Kevin Carlow
April 16, 2021
Modern bartending owes much to the soda shops of yore.
By Matt King
April 15, 2021
Get to know Sebastian Camacho, former fan of The Beatles, and current fan of Marvin Gaye.
April 15, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include the TV news, corporate ingrates, the smell of toasted nuts, and much more!
And Now, the News
• I’d really, really love to get through a Daily Digest without having to link to yet another story about a goddamn mass shooting Here’s a link to a story about the most-recent one (I think), via NBC News: “Eight people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis late Thursday before also killing himself, according to police. Four other people who were shot and another person who was injured were taken to hospitals, officials said, adding that some may have been privately transported to medical facilities. No law enforcement officers were hurt in the shooting that was carried out by a former employee who last worked at the facility this past fall, authorities said late Friday afternoon.”
• I have no idea what in the hell the Biden administration is thinking regarding refugees … and neither, apparently, does the Biden administration. Here’s what The New York Times has to say about what’s been a weird day: “After a backlash from Democrats and human rights activists, the White House abruptly reversed course on Friday on the number of refugees it will allow into the United States, a reflection of President Biden’s continuing struggle with immigration policy. At midday on Friday, the administration had said it would limit the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year to the historically low level of 15,000 set by the Trump administration, breaking an earlier pledge to greatly increase that number and let in more than 60,000 people fleeing war and persecution. But that announcement drew immediate criticism from Democratic leaders. … Just hours later, the White House put out a statement saying it expected to increase the cap next month. It did not comment when asked to specify the number.”
• Thankfully, the Biden administration does seem to know what it’s doing regarding Russian interference in the U.S. Yesterday, the Biden administration announced various sanctions and expulsions against Russia, and today, Russia responded in kind. The New York Times says: “President Biden had indicated that the new American sanctions would signal a harder line toward Moscow, though he left a door open for dialogue, after years of deferential treatment under the Trump administration. (Russian foreign minister Sergey) Lavrov called the sanctions an “absolutely unfriendly and unprovoked action.”
• There are good ways to frame a story, and there are terribly deceiving ways to frame a story. So … yesterday, the CDC, for the first time, released nationwide stats on “breakthrough cases”—people who get COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. First: Here’s a crappy, awful, someone-should-be-fired-for-this example of framing, coming from CNN, where they really should know better. The lede: “About 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN. Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396—7%—of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization.”
• Second, here’s how The Wall Street Journal (subscription required to read the whole piece) framed the same story—competently, unlike CNN. The lede: “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified a small cohort of approximately 5,800 cases of COVID-19 infection among more than 66 million Americans who have completed a full course of vaccination. These so-called breakthrough cases, which are defined as positive COVID-19 test results received at least two weeks after patients receive their final vaccine dose, represent 0.008% of the fully vaccinated population. Officials said such cases are in line with expectations because the approved vaccines in the U.S. are highly effective but not 100% foolproof.”
• If you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccination shot(s), congrats. If you haven’t … go get them! If you’re over 16, you’re eligible! In either case, don’t expect this round of shots to be your last SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations. As CNBC explains: “Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said people will ‘likely’ need a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated. … Bourla said it’s possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually. ‘A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed. And again, the variants will play a key role,’ he told CNBC’s Bertha Coombs during an event with CVS Health.”
• The CDC thinks it’s a good idea for airlines to keep middle seats open. The airlines, rather emphatically, disagree. According to Insider: “A newly publicized study found that maskless flyers could spread COVID-19 at a higher rate when middle seats were not blocked, Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported. Flyers on opposite ends of a three-seat row with the middle open reduced their risk of exposure by 57%, the study said. Multiple airlines … deferred to the trade organization Airlines for America on the issue when reached for comment by Insider. ‘Multiple scientific studies confirm that the layers of protection significantly reduce risk, and research continues to demonstrate that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is very low,’ a spokesperson for Airlines for America told Insider, indicating no changes would be recommended to airlines.”
• If you pray, please consider saying one for Brazil. According to Reuters: “Brazil’s richest and most populous state, Sao Paulo, has warned its ability to care for seriously ill COVID-19 patients was on the verge of collapse as it ran perilously low on key drugs, according to a letter to the federal government seen by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. Sao Paulo state said it expects to run out of crucial intubation drugs, needed to sedate patients, in the next few days, the paper reported on Wednesday. ‘The supply situation regarding drugs, mainly neuromuscular blockers and sedatives, is very serious,’ Sao Paulo Health Secretary Jean Gorinchteyn reportedly wrote in the letter. ‘Collapse is imminent,’ he said.”
• The Washington Post reports on yet more evidence that it’s difficult—but not impossible—for SARS-CoV-2 to spread outdoors: “For more than a year, the vast majority of documented coronavirus clusters have been linked to indoor or indoor-outdoor settings—households, meatpacking plants, nursing homes and restaurants. Near-absent are examples of transmission at beaches and other open spaces where breezes disperse airborne particles, distancing is easier, and humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable.”
• Our partners at CalMatters point out that California’s schools are the least-open in the country—despite the governor’s touting of school-reopening progress: “At a press conference at a Sonoma County elementary school that had reopened two days before, the governor said that more than 9,000 of the state’s 11,000 schools have already welcomed students back to campus or plan to do so soon. That’s about the same figure he cited a month ago. As of Wednesday, only 62% of elementary students, 37% of middle school students and 39% of high school students had the option of receiving some level of in-person instruction, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state data.”
• I was a guest on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast this week, with hosts John Taylor, Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr. Watch or listen as I rant about topics including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine “pause.”
• If you live near or work the proposed arena, or are just curious about the whole thing, the city of Palm Desert is holding a town hall at 4 p.m., Monday, April 19. The Facebook events page explains: “The City of Palm Desert has scheduled a special Virtual Town Hall meeting to share updates and hear the perspective of our residents regarding the sports arena that has been proposed for a site near the Classic Club just north of Palm Desert. The city is committed to assuring that all elements of this project, including aesthetics, lighting, noise, traffic, air quality and public safety as they relate to our residents are addressed.”
• And finally … I’ve always wanted to visit Australia one day, but stories like this, from The Associated Press, have me reconsidering. “Alex White thought he was watching a huge worm writhing in plastic-wrapped lettuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket—until a snake tongue flicked. … It was a venomous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-kilometer (540-mile) journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with two heads of cos lettuce. The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an ALDI supermarket on Monday evening and rode his bicycle home with salad and snake in his backpack.” Nope. No. You won’t see me buying any heads of plastic-wrapped lettuce anytime soon, thankyouverymuch.
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