Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: July 15, 2021

As I write this, I must admit, I have a queasy feeling in my stomach. It reminds me of the feeling I had in March 2020, when one pandemic domino fell after another—and the realization set in that something very bad was happening.

There has been a flood of terrible COVID news lately, with these two humdingers breaking just this afternoon:

Los Angeles County has instituted a requirement that all people—vaccinated or not—mask up in indoor public places, effective 11:59 p.m. Saturday night. From the Los Angeles Times: “L.A. County has seen a steep increase in coronavirus cases of late. During the weeklong period that ended Wednesday, the county reported an average of 1,077 new cases each day—a 261% hike from two weeks prior, according to data compiled by The Times. On Thursday, (County Health Officer Dr. Muntu) Davis reported 1,537 additional cases.” Restaurants can remain open for indoor dining in L.A. County, but everyone must be masked up when not eating or drinking.

The New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game scheduled for tonight has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Yankees players. Per ESPN: “The Yankees’ post-All-Star break opener against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests among New York pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said three additional tests were pending and he assumed they would come back positive.” ESPN’s Buster Olney added via Twitter: “The three other Yankees position players who are in COVID-19 protocol are Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka, and Gio Urshela. Because Judge was at the All-Star Game with other players, this has triggered contact tracing questions for the Red Sox players (and presumably others).”

Yeesh.

It’s worth noting that the Yankees players are all apparently OK—meaning the vaccines are likely working as they’re supposed to.

It feels like we’re seeing the start of the fourth surge here in the U.S. Despite that awful feeling in my stomach, my brain is shouting that this surge, if it is indeed one, is different: Almost half of the people in the U.S.—kids included—are fully vaccinated, and almost 56 percent have received at least one vaccine dose. All available evidence shows that the three approved vaccines protect the vast, vast majority people from serious illness.

But still … that leaves the other 44 percent who are not vaccinated in a very vulnerable position—and who knows what variants will come next?

Before we move on to more local, and mostly better, news, here’s some more scary COVID news (sorry!) that’s come out in recent days:

The now-weekly COVID-19 Riverside County report, released yesterday, shows that things are moving in the wrong direction—but still nowhere near as bad as things were during any of the previous surges.

The head of Eisenhower Health is expressing concern about an increase in all things COVID at the hospital. Stats as of July 12 show an Eisenhower test positivity rate nearing 10 percent.

• Also out of L.A.: The aforementioned county health adviser is recommending that people “reconsider” travel to states including “Nevada, our neighbor, or Missouri, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana and others” because of high rates of COVID-19 community spread.

I’ll let The Hill explain this one: “The largest union for registered nurses in the U.S. called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring back recommendations for universal masking in public regardless of people’s vaccination status. The National Nurses Union in a Monday letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requested that the agency reinstitute guidelines for all people to wear masks in public and in close proximity to those outside their household. NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo pointed to a 16 percent uptick in U.S. COVID-19 cases from last week, according to CDC data, as well as rises in case counts in more than 40 states and hospitalizations in more than 25 states as reasons to return to previous, stricter guidelines.”

• I could go on and on about very bad things happening in states like Tennessee and Missouri, but I think I’ve made my point.

The fourth wave may very well be here. Be careful, everyone.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Not Your Parents’ Jazz Show: Jazzville Continues Palm Springs’ Notable Jazz History in its New Home at the Cascade Lounge

By Matt King

July 15, 2021

Jazzville Palm Springs celebrates Palm Springs’ jazz legacy every Thursday at 7 p.m. at Agua Caliente Palm Springs’ Cascade Lounge.

Better Benefits: The Legislature Ponders Boosting Family Leave Payments—by Taking More Out of Workers’ Paychecks

By Sameea Kamal, CalMatters

July 13, 2021

Assembly Bill 123, which the Assembly passed on a 65-0 vote in May and is now in the Senate, would increase the wage replacement rate […]

Back in Business: After a Year of Relocation and Construction, the Desert Rose Playhouse Settles Into Its New Home—and Gears Up for a Busy Year

By Matt King

July 14, 2021

After a lot of community help, the Desert Rose Playhouse leads the return of local theater—in a brand-new home.

Caesar Cervisia: Beer Lovers Can Learn a Thing or Two From Wine Lovers When It Comes to Enjoying Our Favorite Beverages

By Brett Newton

July 14, 2021

Zythophiles (beer-lovers) could stand to take a page out of an oenophile’s (wine lover’s) book when it comes to approaching beer.

The Weekly Independent Comics Page for July 15, 2021!

By Staff

July 15, 2021

Topics tackled on this week’s Independent comics page include food additives, the Second Amendment, Confederate statues, Nikole Hannah Jones, and more!

More News

• For those of you reading this on Thursday the 15th: At 7 p.m. tonight, the Rancho Mirage Library tonight is holding a virtual event with some of the authors of Palm Springs Noir. Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, the short-story collection’s editor, will join Janet Fitch, Tod Goldberg, Alex Espinoza and Michael Craft in a conversation moderated by Corey Roskin. Find the Zoom link here. Read a fabulous excerpt from Craft’s contribution to the anthology, “VIP Check-In,” here.

• College of the Desert has a new president. This came in just before we were about to hit send: “The Desert Community College District Board of Trustees announced today that higher education leader Dr. Martha Garcia has been offered the position of Superintendent/President at College of the Desert following a national search and community listening sessions. Dr. Garcia currently serves as the Superintendent/President of Imperial Valley College, where she has developed many categorically funded programs that focus on serving underrepresented students. Through her successful grant writing experience, Dr. Garcia has secured more than $20 million to support the creation of innovative programs and services. She is expected to start in her new role on Aug 20, 2021.”

The Palm Springs International Shortfest is putting on a “Virtual Best of Fest” through the weekend. The seven collections of films can each be viewed for $10 through July 18; go here to learn more—and enjoy some fantastic short films!

• Air traffic has returned to normal at the Palm Springs International Airport … and then some. According to a news release from earlier today: “June 2021 is now the busiest June on record for the airport. June total passenger counts reached 129,872, setting a record for the month, or a 23% increase over the previous record set in June 2019 when 105,350 total passengers utilized the airport. Additionally, the number of departing flights in June exceeded 2019 by 14%, based on Cirium-Diio Mi data. July and August are currently scheduled to exceed 2019 by more than 24% each. The number of available summer seats from Palm Springs is beating pre-pandemic numbers, too. This month there are nearly 88,000 available departing seats from Palm Springs compared to just over 58,000 in July 2019.”

Palm Springs Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two people who were involved in an incident on Arenas Road on July 9 at 1:42 a.m. From the police: ““Officers learned that the victim and a friend were walking from a local bar on E. Arenas Rd. and engaged in conversation with another male. The victim told the male that he resembled the actor ‘Eddie Murphy.’ It was reported that the male became angry at this comment and a physical confrontation occurred. The male began chasing the victim. While running away, the victim slipped and struck his head on the ground. The subject chasing the victim left the area. The victim was transported to a local area hospital and is in critical condition. Because of the physical confrontation and fact that the male was chasing the victim when the victim fell and became injured, officers are investigating this incident as an assault and battery. … The suspect is described as a black male adult, approximately 5 foot 8, wearing a light blue button up shirt, white shorts, and was last seen in a black convertible type vehicle.” See pics of the people being sought here.

• The McCallum Theatre will require proof of vaccination when it reopens its doors later this year. From a news release: “The McCallum Theatre will require all patrons, artists, volunteers, staff, sponsors, media, and vendors to show valid proof of full vaccination in order to enter the theatre. At this point, required proof is photo identification and a valid COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. ‘This is a board initiative. Every member of our Board of Trustees is in full agreement that the safety and health of all visitors to the McCallum Theatre is our primary responsibility,’ said Harold Matzner, Chairman of the McCallum Board of Trustees. 

• David Robinson, the director of analytic services for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, has mapped the by-precinct voting numbers in the Coachella Valley from the 2020 presidential election. Robinson notes: “Biden prevailed in 105 precincts, with 75% or more of the total vote in 33 of these. By contrast, Trump succeeded in only 25 precincts.” Check out his work here if you’re a data nerd, or if you’re simply insane and want to relive the election.

• If you’re curious about how California’s power grid works, you really need to check out this fascinating Los Angeles Times piece from earlier this week. Here’s writer Sammy Roth’s tantalizing intro: “The first sign of trouble came at 4:22 p.m. Thursday. Warning of ‘extreme temperatures across much of California,’ officials urged the state’s tens of millions of residents to use less electricity the next evening, to make sure power demand didn’t outstrip supply and cause the lights to go out. It was the third Flex Alert of a young summer that’s felt more like August or September as heat waves shatter records and wildfires devour the landscape, symptoms of a climate in chaos. And unlike the first two calls for energy conservation, this one would nearly bring the Golden State’s electric grid to its knees—all because of a wildfire in southern Oregon.”

• If you’ve ever had to sign an annoying non-compete agreement for work—or you fear you or a loved one may have to in the future—I have some good news for you, courtesy of a management professor, writing for The Conversation: “‘Noncompete clauses’ may make sense for CEOs and other top executives who possess trade secrets but may seem nonsensical when they are applied to low-wage workers such as draftsmen in the construction industry. A 2019 business survey found that 29% of companies paying an average wage of less than $13 an hour required all their employees to sign noncompete agreements. President Joe Biden seems to agree about the oppressive nature of noncompete contracts. On July 9, 2021, he called on the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit them.”

• And finally … let’s return to COVID-19 news with a positive palate-cleanser, courtesy of The Associated Press: “As many Asian countries battle their worst surge of COVID-19 infections, the slow flow of vaccine doses from around the world is finally picking up speed, giving hope that inoculation rates can increase and help blunt the effect of the rapidly spreading delta variant. … Some 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived Thursday afternoon in Indonesia, which has become a dominant hot spot with record high infections and deaths. The U.S. shipment follows 3 million other American doses that arrived Sunday, and 11.7 million doses of AstraZeneca that have come in batches since March through the U.N.-backed COVAX mechanism, the last earlier this week.” It’s a start, at least.

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...