Indy Digest: Sept. 9, 2021
Finally, some good COVID-19 news to report: It’s safe to say the Delta-variant-driven surge that’s been hitting the Coachella Valley is finally starting to subside.
Let’s look at the stats, shall we?
• This is the Riverside County District 4 COVID-19 report for the week ending Sept. 5. (District 4 consists of the Coachella Valley and rural points eastward). The weekly positivity rate—which was 11 percent two weeks ago, and 10 percent one week ago—is down to 8 percent. That’s still too high, but obviously better.
• Hospitalizations are down. Citizen journalist Kevin Duncliffe, who Tweets out hospitalization updates every day using state data, reports that as of yesterday, the three valley hospitals were treating 96 COVID-19 patients. That’s still a lot, yes, but that’s down by 13 compared to seven days ago, and 20 compared to two weeks ago.
• Eisenhower Health is reporting similar decreases in both hospitalizations and the positivity rate.
• The latest stats from the city of Palm Springs’ wastewater testing—from samples taken Aug. 30 and 31—show that after several weeks of increases, the amount of COVID-19 in the samples is starting to decrease.
These are all very, very encouraging signs. However, it’s important to also realize that there’s still a lot of SARS-CoV-2 out there. If we were under the pre-June 15 county tier system, our numbers would still have us deep into the most-restrictive tier.
It’s also worth noting that our Central Valley neighbors are not seeing such encouraging signs. In fact, they’re seeing the opposite. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday:
Hospitals in California’s Central Valley have been increasingly overwhelmed by the fourth surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, with officials scrambling to transfer some critically ill patients more than 100 miles away because local intensive care units are full.
The San Joaquin Valley, the Sacramento area and rural Northern California are now the regions of the state being hit the hardest by COVID-19 hospitalizations on a per capita basis, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. The regions have lower vaccination rates than in the highly populated, coastal areas of Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Our system is still paralyzed and is at a standstill, as we’re trying to move a huge number of patients through this healthcare system that is completely overwhelmed,” Dan Lynch, who oversees emergency medical services for Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties, said at a recent media briefing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll almost surely say it again, but here goes: This pandemic is far from over. But as of now, things are heading in the right direction here in the Coachella Valley.
From the Independent
Independent Study in Focus: Proposed Changes Would Help Both Quarantining Students and Struggling, Short-Handed Schools
By Joe Hong, CalMatters
September 9, 2021
Assembly Bill 167 would relax independent-study rules for students in short-term quarantine, and ensure that school districts can earn funding for students taking independent study while isolating at home.
Traditional Plus Flair: Chad Gardner’s 533 Viet Fusion Melds Vietnamese, French and Pan-Asian Influences
By Andrew Smith
September 8, 2021
With its array of both traditional and unique dishes, a delightful medley of flavor profiles, and original presentations, 533 Viet Fusion’s food is equal parts fun and flavor.
A Comedy Utopia: The Coachella Valley Improv and Comedy Festival Returns, After a COVID-Induced Hiatus, to New Home CVRep
By Matt King
September 8, 2021
The Coachella Valley Improv and Comedy Festival, a local event that celebrates laughs and the other sides of theater arts, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 23 and 24, at the CVRep Playhouse in Cathedral City.
September 9, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include Kyrsten Sinema, Justice Gorsuch’s eyewear, white supremacy, nuns with rulers, and much more!
Fake or Real? Compelling Documentary ‘The Lost Leonardo’ Proves That When It Comes to Big Money, Art Authenticity Doesn’t Matter
By Bob Grimm
September 9, 2021
The Lost Leonardo speaks with many of the figures who contributed to the transformation of “Salvator Mundi” from a marred, closet find into the most expensive painting in the world.
Support the Independent!
Look at how much useful and/or interesting information is contained in this newsletter. Now check out how much worthwhile content is in the “From the Independent” section above. All of this was provided to you, and anyone else who wants it, completely free of charge. But … it takes a lot of time, work and resources to report, write, assemble and distribute all this quality local news. The Independent is not owned by a massive, multibillion dollar chain, like the daily. It’s owned by … uh, well, me, a dude to lives in an apartment just off downtown Palm Springs. If you have a few spare bucks, I ask you to please support my writers, designers, distribution drivers and me, by clicking the button below and becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Thanks, as always, for reading.
• If you’ve ever wanted to see me on a computer screen yammering about the importance of independent local news, you’re in luck: At 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, I’ll be joining the Palm Springs Post’s Mark Talkington for ONE PS’ “Talk of the Town: CV’s Independent Publishers: Building Personal Connections.” Via Zoom, we will have, per the description, “a very timely and informative session on how independent publishers are working to build personal connections with the neighborhoods of the Coachella Valley by helping them learn the news about their towns.” Click on the Facebook link above for more info, or visit the ONE PS website here. (And, in all seriousness: No yammering! I promise!)
• Speaking of the Palm Springs Post: Two recent stories from there are very much worth your attention. First up: I was working on this very same story, but Mark beat me to it, so I’ll just link to his instead. The headline: “People behind ads pushing for mayor’s resignation plan to stay anonymous.” The lede: “The people behind a Facebook page and website calling first for Palm Springs city leaders to better address issues and now for the mayor’s resignation are choosing to remain anonymous, a group member said Tuesday. ‘The best way to be involved is for people to comment and discuss these issues,’ a member of the group behind The Palm Springs Account wrote in a direct message to The Post when asked if its backers would identify themselves. ‘The issues stand up for themselves.’ Early in the ad campaign, which started August 1 and has so far cost approximately $4,300, those issues included homelessness and crime. (The group has made similar statements to the Independent.)
• Second is: “Suspect in a pair of Palm Springs murders being held without bail.” The details: “Speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning, Acting Police Chief Melissa Desmarais said neighbors near each crime scene came forward to provide video footage and other evidence that helped police identify 31-year-old Luis Cantor of Palm Springs as the suspect. Cantor is being held without bail in the Southwest Detention Center in Banning. He is charged with two counts of murder, three counts of burglary, and one count of assault on a person causing great bodily injury, all of which are felonies. Cantor was arrested in the 2200 block of Caliente Drive in Palm Springs on August 25 when police found him unconscious in a car. … During the arrest, Desmarais said police found what they deemed ‘substantial evidence’ linking Cantor to the July killing of 80-year-old Joseph Rajczi. The evidence, along with ‘multiple similarities’ between Rajczi’s death and that of 59-year-old Jennifer Dillon, led investigators to suspect Cantor of both killings. Dillon was discovered dead inside her home in the 2800 block of Davis Way by a neighbor on January 25. Police initially declared the death to be suspicious but did not declare it a homicide until days later. Rajczi was found dead by police on July 30, when they responded to an unattended death report in the 1100 block of East Via Colusa.”
• The Biden administration today announced a sweeping vaccine mandate—one that’s sure to cause all sorts of lawsuits and drama, but will surely also force some hesitant folks to get the COVID-19 shots. NPR says: “President Biden on Thursday unveiled a series of new steps to combat the raging pandemic, including the announcement of a new rule that all businesses with 100 or more employees ensure that every worker is either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus. ‘We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while,’ Biden said in White House remarks. But, he added: ‘We can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.’ … The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will formally issue the rule in coming weeks, a senior administration official told reporters. The rule would apply to more than 80 million workers, Biden said.”
• Moderna is working on a combination COVID-19 shot and flu shot. CNBC says: “The new vaccine, which the company is calling mRNA-1073, combines Moderna’s current COVID vaccine with a flu shot that’s also under development, according to a press release. Shares of Moderna jumped by more than 5% after the announcement. ‘Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu,’ CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement Thursday. ‘We are making progress on enrolling patients in our rare disease programs, and we are fully enrolled in our personalized cancer vaccine trial. We believe this is just the beginning of a new age of information-based medicines.’”
• We’re just two days away from the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, so you’ll be seeing a flood of news stories about that horrible day—and the ways in which it changed things around the world. The Los Angeles Times today published a powerful column headlined: “What did California lose in the war on terror? More than any other state in the U.S.” A snippet: “As the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, nears, the toll to the U.S. military in the war on terror—in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere—has reached a terrible peak. With at least 13 troops killed in the August suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, about 7,050 men and women in uniform have died in the ‘forever war.’ No state has lost as many as California; 776 men and women who called the Golden State home have died, 11% of the nation’s casualties. Nearly 20% of California’s war dead were old enough to die for their country but too young to buy a drink. They left behind 453 children.”
• And finally … ladies and gentlemen, we give you the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes. The Associated Press explains what in the world we’re talking about: “Beards aren’t just cool and trendy—they might also be an evolutionary development to help protect a man’s delicate facial bones from a punch to the face. That’s the conclusion of a trio of scientists from the University of Utah who are among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes, the Nobel Prize spoofs that honor—or maybe dishonor, depending on your point of view—strange scientific discoveries. The winners of the 31st annual Ig Nobels being announced Thursday included researchers who figured out how to better control cockroaches on U.S. Navy submarines; animal scientists who looked at whether it’s safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down; and a team that figured out just how disgusting that discarded gum stuck to your shoe is.”