Indy Digest: Jan. 13, 2022
The Coachella Valley is losing a lot in congressional redistricting this year.
For decades, most or all of the valley has been in the same congressional district. As the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s David Robinson explains: “After the 2000 Census redistricting, all the valley cities were included in District 45, except for Desert Hot Springs. Because of high population growth between 2000 and 2010, for 2010 redistricting, all valley cities were incorporated into one new district—District 36. More densely populated areas like Murrieta and Moreno Valley were put into different districts as the areas of the Coachella Valley, Banning, and eastern Riverside Counties now had a population high enough to warrant their own district.”
Going back even before 2000, one of the things Sonny Bono, a Palm Springs resident, was best known for during his brief congressional tenure in the ’90s was bringing attention to issues regarding the Salton Sea.
As of the next Congress, the Salton Sea and Palm Springs will no longer be part of the same congressional district. In part because the Coachella Valley grew at a faster pace than the rest of the state, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission decided to split the Coachella Valley into two districts. Rep. Raul Ruiz, who currently represents the entire Coachella Valley, will almost certainly get re-elected in the new District 25, which includes Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Coachella and—rather strangely—Cathedral City, as well as parts of San Bernardino, Imperial and San Diego Counties.
Meanwhile, the new District 41—which, as Robinson so perfectly put it, looks like “a distinctively ‘gerrymandered’ undulating W”—will include Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and La Quinta. While I hate using horserace terminology while describing elections, I will make an exception here by saying Rep. Ken Calvert, who has been in Congress since 1993, is the favorite to get re-elected in this district.
If that happens, a resident of Corona will be representing half of the Coachella Valley. For the record, the Coachella Valley is about three times farther away from Corona than Disneyland is.
That does not bode well for how the Coachella Valley will be represented in Congress.
From the Independent
Civic Solutions: Palm Springs’ New Foodware Rules Are a Step in the Right Direction—but We All Need to Do Our Part
By Melissa Daniels
January 12, 2022
As of Jan. 1, Palm Springs restaurants must use reusable foodware and reusable condiment containers for on-site dining. Plastic is allowed, as long as it isn’t “polystyrene,” or the rigid “Styrofoam” you often see used for to-go cups or boxes.
By Brett Newton
January 13, 2022
Las Palmas Brewing opened not long before the pandemic hit—yet the business is now thriving.
January 13, 2022
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include insomnia, midterm voters, flurona, the Garden of Eden—and much more!
• Our partners at Calmatters offered up this frightening lead today: “California’s hospital system is in danger of collapse as skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, severely ill patients and sick staff push hospitals past their capabilities, the California Hospital Association warned today. Hospitals are expecting COVID-19-positive patients to triple by the end of the month, with admissions peaking in the next four to six weeks. The surge in infections and hospitalizations is expected to last until the end of February. ‘We find ourselves on the precipice of the most challenging time to date for California’s healthcare system,’ (association CEO Carmela) Coyle said. ‘Our capabilities may soon be eclipsed.’”
• Meanwhile, the state and country are facing a serious shortage of blood. The Los Angeles Times says: “Blood shortages forced the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to shut down one of its trauma centers to new patients for hours earlier this week—a step it had not taken in over three decades, officials at the county department said Wednesday. The trauma center at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center closed to new patients for more than two hours on Monday, according to a department spokesperson. It had to reach out to other hospitals in the DHS system for blood in order to reopen. … Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the health services department, said that the critical shortage in blood, combined with surging hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients and staff shortages, could affect how hospitals can care for the public ‘in much more serious ways’ than the surge last winter, resulting in canceled surgeries and delayed care for people in need.”
• The latest Palm Springs wastewater testing for SARS-CoV-2 shows yet more record-breaking amounts of the virus. Here’s what the report says about the testing of samples from early last week: “The city’s number of copies recorded at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has significantly increased on Monday, Jan. 3. On the Monday after New Year’s Day measured 6,687,602 copies/L; it went down to 3,945,221 copies/L on Tuesday.” (The old record high reading came from the previous Tuesday, when 5,109,661 copies/L was hit.) “While it is encouraging to see a lower number, we saw a wide variability of results during the winter peak last year. Also, past results have often shown the Tuesday number to be lower than results from the day before. We look forward to the next set of results to see if there is indeed a downward trend.” The report also said that 96.8 (Jan. 3) and 95.4 (Jan. 4) percent of the virus appeared to be omicron.
• The Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending Jan. 9 is, quite honestly, not as horrifying as I thought it would be … and it’s still pretty horrifying. Hospitalizations are way up, as is the weekly positivity rate (15.2 percent).
• The U.S. Supreme Court today said yes to one vaccine mandate, and no to a much more widespread vaccine mandate. NPR explains: “The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-test rule (for large private companies) Thursday, declaring that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had exceeded its authority. But at the same time, the court upheld a regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that mandates vaccines for almost all employees at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers that receive federal funds. The vote to invalidate the vaccine-or-test regulation was 6 to 3, along ideological lines.” Sigh.
• New-since-the-last-Indy Digest closures and cancellations include all food and beverage service at the Indian Wells Golf Resort (except for “on course beverage cart service”) until Tuesday, Jan. 18; the 2022 Palm Desert Senior Games and International Sports Festival (cancelled this year); and Script2Stage2Screen’s staged reading of “I’m Not Rick Springfield” (postponed from January to May).
• Taking COVID-19 tests is annoying. But if you’re blind, it’s impossible. The New York Times reports: “Christy Smith has never been tested for the coronavirus. As a blind person, she can’t drive to testing sites near her home in St. Louis, and they are too far away for her to walk. Alternative options—public transportation, ride share apps or having a friend drive her to a test site—would put others at risk for exposure. The rapid tests that millions of other people are taking at home, which require precisely plunking liquid drops into tiny spaces and have no Braille guides, are also inaccessible to Ms. Smith. Many people who are blind or have limited vision are not being tested as often as they would like—and some are staying isolated because testing is too difficult.”
• Mayors of more than two dozen of America’s largest cities are calling on Congress to offer more help to restaurants. Eater New York reports: “New York City mayor Eric Adams has joined a group of elected officials across the country calling on the federal government to replenish the national Restaurant Revitalization Fund, an emergency fund providing financial support to restaurants and bars hard-hit by the pandemic. The Real Deal reports that the mayor signed a letter to Congress—alongside 27 other mayors, including from Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston—pushing federal lawmakers to refill the fund as restaurants contend with temporary shutdowns and business disruptions in light of more surges of COVID-19 in their communities.”
• The good folks at AAP-Food Samaritans have asked us to spread the word about a program to help low-income families: “Food Samaritans (AAP) is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from the Hebson Family Foundation that will help underwrite nutritional support for dependent children of eligible clients. The mission of the Foundation is to help improve the lives of children and young adults afflicted with HIV/AIDS or cancer. Founded in 1991 (as AIDS Assistance Program) with the goal of helping the most at-risk members of the Greater Palm Springs community: low-income people compromised by HIV/AIDS, the organization has expanded its services to include people suffering from cancer, MS, heart or liver disease, and other chronic illnesses. … AAP Executive Director/C.E.O. Mark Anton said of the outreach: ‘We are accepting new clients and turning to the community to ask for help in spreading the word to people who earn less than $19,320 per year and live with a chronic debilitating illness such as cancer, MS, HIV/AIDS, or kidney disease. Eligible people receive grocery vouchers of $150 each month, and those with dependent children under 18 may receive additional vouchers in an equal amount. If you know someone in need, of any age, please urge them to contact us to see if they qualify for our nutritional support program.’ For more information about the program please visit aapfoodsamaritans.org or call 760-325-8481.”
• Fact No. 230,594 Proving Our Nation’s Financial System Has a Serious Inequity Problem: A doctoral candidate in economics, writing for The Conversation, says poorer Americans are getting hurt by inflation the most: “On Jan. 12, 2022, the BLS released figures showing that inflation jumped by 7% in December from a year earlier—the fastest pace since 1982. To see how this varied across households, I used the bureau’s own price data and factored in the typical spending habits of different income groups. I calculate that inflation is running at 7.2% for the lowest income households—higher than for any other group. For the highest income families, the rate of change was 6.6%. The difference between the two income groups steadily increased throughout 2021, starting the year at just 0.16 percentage point but ending at 0.6 percentage point – near the highest it has been since 2010.” Click here to read more.
• And finally … let’s look ahead to hopefully better days, and dream of a quarter-million festival-goers overrunning our fair valley in just three short months: Goldenvoice has announced the 2022 Coachella lineup. Billboard first reported the lineup yesterday, and the poster was officially released later in the day: “After two years of postponements and cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Billboard has confirmed Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival’s official 2022 lineup, including Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) and Swedish House Mafia. … The news comes nearly two years after the 2020 iteration—which was slated to be headlined by Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean—was postponed several times during the pandemic. Billboard had previously confirmed that Scott and Rage Against the Machine will no longer headline 2022 Coachella. Scott was dropped from the lineup following the tragic death of 10 attendees at his Astroworld festival in Houston on Nov. 5. In August, it was revealed that Ocean would instead headline the festival in 2023.”
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