Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Jan. 24, 2022

Are you ready, at long last, for some good pandemic-related news? Here goes: The Coachella Valley may be through the worst portion of the omicron spike.

The latest test results of virus levels in Palm Springs wastewater are in—from samples taken last Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 17 and 18—and they show that the amount of SARS-CoV-2 is on the decline. Rounding to the nearest hundred thousand, there were 2.7 million and 2.6 million viral copies per liter of wastewater last Monday and Tuesday, respectively. That’s well below the 4.6 million and 6.5 million detected two weeks ago.

Remember: These just-released test results reflect what was in Palm Springs’ wastewater a week ago. If the trends continue, that would mean we’re in an even better place now. Of course, we won’t know that for sure until the results from samples taken today and tomorrow are released early next week.

Even if this downward trend continues, it does not mean all’s clear, or even close to it. First: There is still a LOT of virus around. The levels of virus in the wastewater on Jan. 17 and 18—almost all of that virus was omicron, by the way—more or less match the pre-omicron all-time high from last winter.

Second: This virus ain’t done mutating, so nobody knows what’s coming next. For starters, there’s an omicron subvariant now that may spread even faster than the original omicron.

Still … there are legitimate, evidenced based reasons for optimism, at last. As of now, the prospects for February, and March especially, are looking increasingly decent.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Moving the Lines: Palm Desert Begins the Redistricting Process—and Ponders Whether to Let Voters Decide the Future Number of Districts

By Kevin Fitzgerald

January 21, 2022

Palm Desert has started its post-Census redistricting process—but the situation is a little more complicated than normal, thanks to the city’s decidedly unique two-district format.

Interesting Interviews: Desert Ensemble Theatre’s World Premiere of ‘Artificial Morality’ Is a Well-Acted Play That Covers a Lot of Ground

By Valerie-Jean (VJ) Hume

January 23, 2022

DET co-founder Tony Padilla’s newest play touches on a lot of topics.

Vine Social: The Only Problem With the Palm Springs Pinot Noir Festival: It Only Happens Once a Year

By Katie Finn

January 24, 2022

The largest gathering of pinot noir producers in Southern California takes place right here in our backyard.

A Baffling Boba Fett: The Newest Star Wars Series on Disney+ Is Strangely Slow and Brooding

By Bob Grimm

January 23, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett is not terrible—but it needs a serious injection of fun, and fast.

The Lucky 13: Morgan Alise Carmona, Singer/Songwriter for The Sieve and the Saddle, Performing at Plan B on Feb. 3

By Matt King

January 24, 2022

Get to better know Morgan Alise Carmona, singer for The Sieve and the Saddle.

More News

Our partners at CalMatters wrapped up an eight-part series today titled “Sick and Tired: Omicron Overwhelms California Workers” by looking at the plight of nurses working at long-term care facilities. Key quote: “Severe worker shortages—worsened by the omicron surge—have forced some of California’s long-term care facilities to rely on COVID-positive staff for patient care. According to state data, 11,500 long-term care center workers are currently infected with COVID—even though 93% are fully vaccinated. Although only 8% of the workforce is infected today, it’s 48 times more than at the beginning of December, when omicron appeared. The California Department of Public Health earlier this month quietly issued controversial emergency guidelines allowing infected health care employees with no symptoms to continue working. And at facilities with the most severe staffing shortages, symptomatic staff are allowed to work with COVID patients.” ONLY 8 percent?!

Related and also from CalMatters: The number of people in California’s workforce is on the decline. “A whopping 98% of small business owners in the Golden State say that difficulty hiring is affecting their bottom line, according to a survey released this morning by Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business Voices. That’s far more than the 81% who pinpoint inflation, the 77% who cite supply chain issues and the 70% who identify the surge in COVID-19 cases as drags on their revenue. The news comes as California’s economy shows glimmers of improvement: The unemployment rate fell to 6.5% in December from a revised rate of 7% in November as employers added 50,700 jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday. … But the figures obscure what Michael Bernick, a former EDD director and attorney for law firm Duane Morris, calls a ‘major storyline’ in California: ‘the disappearing workforce’: ‘The number of Californians listed as employed—in payroll jobs or as independent contractors—did increase over the month by 116,900 persons. However, it remains 919,800 workers below the number of workers employed in California in January 2020, just before the pandemic.”

Well, this is interesting. NPR reports: “Billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has launched a (digital) pharmacy for generic drugs that promises steep discounts over traditional distributors. The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company announced the opening of its (digital) pharmacy Wednesday. The pharmacy says it will bypass health care industry ‘middlemen’ and help consumers avoid high drug prices by charging manufacturers’ prices plus a flat 15% markup and pharmacist fee. ‘All drugs are priced at cost plus 15% ! Sign up and share your thoughts and experiences with us!’ Cuban tweeted last week. The launch comes several weeks after the company established its own pharmacy benefit manager. PBMs are companies that work directly with health insurers, drugmakers and pharmacies to manage drug benefits and have a major impact on the prices of prescription medicines.”

• There’s an election later this year—and candidates are starting to emerge. In fact, two Palm Springs City Council announcements were made over the weekend. Our friends at the Palm Springs Post offer up the news. First: “Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner said Saturday she will seek re-election for the District 1 Palm Springs City Council seat she first won in 2019. If re-elected, she would stand to become the first Latina to serve as the city’s mayor. ‘I really think we’ve gotten a lot done,’ Garner said as she reflected on the work done by the City Council in her first term, which expires at the end of the year. ‘There has been a lot of good momentum. Even the things that haven’t happened, they are on their way.’ Garner said the momentum she is currently experiencing as a public servant went a long way toward her decision to seek another term. She pointed to several accomplishments that directly benefited people in her district as the most satisfying aspect of an often difficult public-facing role.”

• Second: Destination PSP owner Jeffrey Bernstein has announced he’s running for the seat currently held by Dennis Woods, who has not yet said whether he’s going to seek re-election. From the Post: “Bernstein, who is currently chair of the city’s Measure J Oversight Commission and is active in multiple civic organizations, intends to run for the District 2 Council seat. … ‘I’m running because I know what makes Palm Springs special and unique—its residents, businesses and its myriad of community organizations—and I want to ensure we work together as a city to support them all so that we keep this city like no place else,’ Bernstein said in a news release. ‘I know what it takes to build lasting, community-oriented institutions and businesses, and I want to bring my knowledge and experience to benefit the City Council.’” 

• Meanwhile, despite the pandemic—or perhaps, in part, because of it—Palm Springs International Airport has yet again set a monthly passenger record. From a news release: “Palm Springs International Airport surpassed 2 million total passengers in 2021 and set their seventh consecutive monthly passenger record in December. the total passenger count for 2021 was 2,092,943, an increase of 67% compared to 2020. In the month of December, PSP set its seventh passenger record for the year surpassing the previous record, set in 2018, by 8.6% with 276,527 total passengers. … Palm Springs International Airport has set new passenger records every month since June. With the growth in the airport’s nonstop route portfolio, airport officials expect 2022 to be a strong year as well. PSP offers 35 nonstop routes in season and 15 year-round routes, which is the highest number of routes that Palm Springs has ever had.”

• And finally … the Super Bowl brings in a veritable crap-ton of money each year. So, the Los Angeles Times can’t help but wonder: Why are the dancers and many others participating in the halftime show NOT getting paid? A snippet: “Hundreds of excited ‘fans’ will pour onto the field while hip-hop dream team Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar perform during the Super Bowl LVI halftime show on Feb. 13. Viewers will probably see them move their bodies to the music. What they won’t see are the 72 hours they spent over nine days in unpaid rehearsals lasting as long as nine hours a stretch—and how they were asked to provide their own transportation and adhere to a strict confidentiality protocol. Field cast participants—aspiring dancers, actors, singers and musicians recruited from local drill teams as well as theatrical, community and athletic groups—are expected to be grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the situation is causing a stir in the dance community after dance artist and activist Taja Riley posted about it to her 110,000 followers on Instagram. Other performers, including dancer Alyson Stoner and Heather Morris (‘Glee’), have since spoken out about it on social media.”

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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...