Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Sept. 2, 2021

Yesterday afternoon, Eisenhower Health posted this on its Facebook page:

IN ONE WEEK, 10 people have died of #Covid19 in our hospital.

All of them were unvaccinated. Ages ranged from 34-88—several with pre-existing conditions and some without.

Since we began administering the Covid-19 vaccine, we have had ZERO patients hospitalized or die from complications with the vaccine.

Right now, the Covid-19 vaccine is our greatest defense against the highly contagious and deadly #delta variant. If you haven’t yet, protect yourself and your loved ones by getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

The first sentence shocked and saddened me. The rest saddened me … and angered me.

As I’ve said in this space before: I consider myself to be an open-minded fella, someone who can usually understand—if not agree with—different sides of an issue.

While I was ready and willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the first availability, I understood why people could be hesitant to get the shot(s) early this year. The vaccine-development process was shockingly fast. These mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) were the first to be approved for use in humans. And our government’s history with medicine and minority populations has some horrifyingly awful chapters.

But now … the verdict is definitely in on the vaccines: They work amazingly well. They save lives. They’re very safe; for thousands of people in the trials, more than a year has passed since they got their shots. Not only is getting the vaccine good for you; it’s good for everyone else. At this point—unless someone has a rare legitimate medical reason for not getting the vaccine—there’s no reason why a person 12 and older shouldn’t be vaccinated.

My heart breaks for the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at Eisenhower and beyond who have had to watch COVID-19 patients die, despite their best efforts. My heart also breaks for the relatively small number of vaccinated people who have been seriously sickened by COVID-19—very possibly because an unvaccinated person passed the virus onto them.

Yes, my heart also breaks for the unvaccinated COVID-19 victims of adult age here in the United States, where vaccines are readily available to all. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m also angry at them—because of what they’ve put their families, their doctors and themselves through

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

The XX Factor: Meet Debbie Barlow, Who Developed a Powerful THC Balm to Help Her Cancer-Stricken Husband

By Kay Kudukis

September 1, 2021

Meet Debbie Barlow, a woman who made THC oil to help out her husband—and wound up creating a business.

The Venue Report, September 2021: Chicago, Pat Benatar, Wynonna Judd—and Much More!

By Matt King

August 31, 2021

As of September, most of the area’s entertainment venues are back in action. Here are some entertainment highlights for the month around the Coachella Valley and beyond.

September Astronomy: As Autumn Arrives, Planets Dominate the Evening Sky—but They All Depart Before Morning Twilight

By Robert Victor

August 31, 2021

Celestial highlights for September 2021 include a string of bright evening planets, old and young thin crescent moons—and, on Sept. 22, the start of autumn.

The Indy Endorsement: The Tonkotsu Black Garlic Ramen at Torakichi Ramen

By Jimmy Boegle

August 31, 2021

Palm Springs finally has a worthy ramen-focused restaurant—and Torakichi Ramen may teach you a thing or two about the joys of ramen nuance.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for Sept. 2, 2021!

By Staff

September 2, 2021

Topics tackled on this week’s Independent comics page include bastards who don’t give a crap, feedbags, Facebook memes, the produce section—and much more!

More News

• Here’s the Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending Aug. 29. (District 4 = the Coachella Valley and points to the east.) I am happy to say that there’s some mildly encouraging news: The test positivity rate—while still alarmingly high—was 10 percent, down from 11 percent last week. The percentage of the population vaccinated also jumped—such a large amount, in fact, I’m convinced one of the numbers must be wrong: The partially/fully vaxed percentage went from 66.3 to 71.2 (fully went from 55.7 to 59.8). Fingers crossed these improvements are legit and the start of a trend.

• Less encouraging COVID-19 news comes from the latest Palm Springs wastewater testing results, from Aug. 23 and 24: “The average number of viral copies detected at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has increased from last week.”

• More than 400 customers (this usually means households) remain without power on the North Shore of the Salton Sea after crazy storms Monday night. KESQ notes: “(The) Imperial Irrigation District says power was restored Wednesday night at 11:26 p.m. to another 143 North Shore customers. There are still 412 customers in the area without power after a pair of storms earlier this week knocked down 33 power poles. The storms initially turned the lights off on 1,400 customers. Strong winds also brought down trees that caused damage to vehicles, homes, and businesses in parts of the valley.”

• Unless you live under that ever-famous figurative rock, you’ve heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to allow Texas’ restrictive new abortion law to stand. NBC News says that could be just the first step in dismantling Roe v. Wade: “The case in Texas and another one the high court will consider in Mississippi later this year have the same goal, experts say: gutting or overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationally. The laws take two separate approaches to curtailing abortion rights. But as experts explained, they may end up working together—with the help of a conservative Supreme Court—as a well-timed one-two punch that could be a death knell to the landmark ruling.”

All but one of California’s national forests are closed for the time being. The Los Angeles Times explains: “The closures (went) into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and (will) stay in place until the same time on Sept. 17, according to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region. ‘We do not take this decision lightly, but this is the best choice for public safety,’ said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. … The order doesn’t affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region, officials said. Officials said they hope to reduce the number of people visiting national forests to prevent anyone from being trapped during an emergency such as a wildfire.”.

• That cloth mask you’re wearing may soon not be good enough for airlines, venues and other places, if trends that have started in Europe come to the United States. Fast Company reports: “As COVID-19 continues to surge, accelerated by the delta variant, several European governments and companies are banning cloth masks, arguing that they are not as effective as medical masks in the midst of the current outbreak. Instead, they are mandating medical-grade masks. It’s unclear yet whether American companies will follow suit, but it could be worth preparing for that eventuality by understanding the difference between cloth and medical masks, and figuring out where to buy medical masks. Many airlines now ban fabric masks on flights. Last week, Finnair was the latest to adopt this policy, joining Air France, Lufthansa, Swissair, Croatia Airlines, and LATAM Airlines in announcing that passengers would not be allowed to wear cloth masks on flights.”

• The Biden administration’s call for COVID-19 booster shots to begin soon has angered two FDA officials so much that they’re leaving their jobs. According to The New York Times: “Dr. Marion Gruber, the director of the FDA’s vaccines office, will retire at the end of October, and her deputy, Dr. Philip Krause, will leave in November, according to an email that Dr. Peter Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator, sent to staff members on Tuesday morning. One reason is that Dr. Gruber and Dr. Krause were upset about the Biden administration’s recent announcement that adults should get a coronavirus booster vaccination eight months after they received their second shot, according to people familiar with their thinking. Neither believed there was enough data to justify offering booster shots yet, the people said, and both viewed the announcement, amplified by President Biden, as pressure on the FDA to quickly authorize them.” Yikes.

• So how much did the Afghanistan war actually cost, in terms of money, lives and beyond? A political science professor who is part of the Costs of War Project—”an initiative that brings together more than 50 scholars, physicians and legal and human rights experts to provide an account of the human, economic, budgetary and political costs and consequences of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars”—tallies things up for The Conversation: A snippet: “As of mid-August 2021, 20,722 members of the U.S. military had been wounded in action in Afghanistan, not including the 18 who were injured in the attack by ISIS-K outside the airport in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021. Of the veterans who were injured and lost a limb in the post-9/11 wars, many lost more than one.’”

Our partners at CalMatters today published a shocking story on the fact that bots are swarming online community college courses as part of an effort to defraud the state—and messing up the educational experience in the process: “Officials with the 116-college system say they are seeing a spike in cyberattacks since the pandemic, which they suspect is because the scammers are targeting federal COVID-19 relief grants along with traditional financial aid. At least 10 districts or individual colleges have told CalMatters they’ve had increases in fake applications, registrations, financial aid filings, or some combination of the three. The Chancellor’s Office estimates that about 20% of the traffic coming to the system’s online application portal is from bots and other ‘malicious’ actors. Bots are filling up classes, in some cases preventing real students from enrolling. And identifying and blocking the fake student accounts is taking up considerable staff time, college officials say. They say the system is being targeted partly because it is open enrollment and does not have an application fee.” 

• Digital driver’s licenses could soon be a thing. CNBC explains: “Eight states will roll out a feature allowing users to add driver’s license and state IDs to Apple Wallet for iPhone and Apple Watch to use at security at participating airports, Apple announced Wednesday. Arizona and Georgia are the first states to adopt the feature and Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah will follow, though the company did not specify a timeline. The news comes just months after Apple said at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June that it was working on the feature with the Transportation Security Administration. The update is a crucial step in Apple’s plan to replace physical wallets and will offer more convenience to travelers looking for a touchless airport experience, the company said.”

• Props to Augustine Casino for this. According to a news release: “More than 70 tribal government and casino employees were presented with a surprise hero pay lump-sum payment last week. The employees—deemed by the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians as essential workers—continued to work for the tribe throughout the COVID pandemic. … The one-time incremental paycheck represented retroactive pay for hours these workers logged during the initial 12 months of the pandemic. The monies used to make the payments came from the Coronavirus State and Tribal Fiscal Recovery Fund, which was part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Joe Biden in March. The Augustine Tribal Council voted to give its essential workers $10 additional pay for each hour worked during one of the most difficult years in recent memory. Checks presented ranged from several hundred dollars to $19,000.

• Wanna become a star of the stage? If so, then you may want to consider auditioning for a show being produced by our friends over at the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company. They’ve let us know they’ll be holding auditions on Monday, Sept. 13, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for two 2022 shows, Artificial Morality and All This Intimacy. The actors (non-Equity) needed are men 30-45, and women 18-42. They say: “PROOF OF VACCINATION IS REQUIRED. Desert Ensemble Theatre is committed to diversity in casting. We encourage BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ actors to audition.” Go here for the complete list of rules and roles—and break a leg!

• And finally … if you don’t follow sports news, you may have missed the bonkers saga of the Bishop Sycamore football team. The short version: A high school football team, for a school that may not actually exist, somehow got itself into a high-profile game televised by ESPN … and things did not go well. The longer version … well, SB Nation breaks things down here. It’s fascinating and dumb and weird all at once.

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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...