Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Dec. 27, 2021

As the pandemic rages on, seemingly endlessly, the fact that rapid COVID-19 tests aren’t cheap and ubiquitous is becoming an increasingly huge problem.

Last week, as family arrived (with everyone vaccinated and boosted) for Christmas, my husband developed a sore throat. We were concerned … but the next day, the sore throat was gone. We were relieved.

Then that night, his nose began to run.

Crap.

At this point, it was Friday, Dec. 24. We’d been spending a lot of time around my mom, my father-in law and my stepmother-in-law, and we had plans (outdoors, but with lots of rain in the forecast) with friends that night and on Christmas Day. While I felt fine, there was definitely something going on with the hubby. He needed a COVID-19 test, and we needed the results fast. This was a problem.

All of the free testing sites I could find were already booked up for the day—and it’s likely we would not have gotten the results back before the weekend even if we could get an appointment. At-home tests for purchase at the drug stores were hard to come by. Therefore, we did the only thing we could to assure we’d get the results fast: We shelled out $129 to get a rapid antigen test done at the site over by the airport.

We made an appointment first thing in the morning. By noon, we had our husband’s results: Negative for COVID-19.

Whew.

Our minds were at ease. But what if we hadn’t had the $129 for the test? What if my husband hadn’t had the time or the transportation to drive to the airport and sit in his car for almost an hour as he waited for his turn?

Yes, help is coming: The Biden administration is going to have free at-home tests available sometime in early January … somehow. The details are murky on how, exactly, the program will work. Also, early January ain’t here yet, and there is going to be a whole lot of omicron spread between now and whenever those rapid tests start getting distributed. Biden should have taken this action months ago; instead, his administration turned down at least one earlier proposal to take appropriate action. Yet again, the U.S. is behind much of the rest of the world in taking action against the virus.

The next six weeks or so are going to be among the worst of the pandemic. A whole lot of people are going to get sick. These free and accessible rapid tests will presumably show up at some point within that time frame—but they should have already been here.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Life-Saving Deliveries: Coachella Valley’s Meals on Wheels Programs Continue to Offer Food, Human Contact and More to Homebound Seniors

By Kevin Fitzgerald

December 24, 2021

The valley’s homebound seniors depend on Meals on Wheels for healthy meals, human contact—and even help getting vaccinated.

Restaurant News Bites: AsiaSF Set to Reopen; New Restaurants Coming to Downtown Indio; and Much More!

By Charles Drabkin

December 27, 2021

Two new local distilleries; the sister restaurant to a Lake Arrowhead favorite takes over the former Venezia space; the Slice has new ownership and a (sort of) new name; and more!

Utter Hilarious Doom: Netflix’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ Is Chock-Full of Laughs—and Despair Over the Planet’s Fate

By Bob Grimm

December 27, 2021

Don’t Look Up deserves comparison to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, because it pulls laughs out of the fact that the human race is on a crash course with destruction.

The Indy Endorsement: The Spicy Tuna Tostada at Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

By Jimmy Boegle

December 24, 2021

There is one dish that I’ll happily go to Sandfish and order even when I am not in a splurge mood: the spicy tuna tostada.

Best of Coachella Valley Winners’ Advertising Spotlight!

More News

• Rather than inundating you with scary news about the increasing chaos omicron is causing—regarding travel, in the sports world, at local businesses, with events, etc.—I’ll just say this: If you have any plans outside of your own home for the next few weeks, double-check to make sure wherever you’re going is still open, and whatever you’re doing is still happening. There are, and will be, a lot of omicron-related cancellations and closures.

Dr. Anthony Fauci today said the United States should consider a vaccine mandate for air travel. The Associated Press says: “Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief science adviser on the pandemic response, said such a mandate might drive up the nation’s lagging vaccination rate as well as confer stronger protection on flights, for which federal regulations require all those age 2 and older to wear a mask. The Biden administration has thus far balked at imposing a vaccination requirement for domestic air travel. Two officials said Biden’s science advisers have yet to make a formal recommendation for such a requirement to the president. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said a vaccine mandate on planes could trigger a host of logistical and legal concerns.”

• California’s redistricting process is complete—except for the seemingly requisite legal challenges. Our partners at CalMatters report: “In addition to balancing population numbers, the (California Citizens Redistricting Commission) must comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, ensuring that no minority group’s vote is drowned out. And to create fair maps, the commission didn’t consider current district lines and isn’t supposed to weigh partisan politics. In some cases, it puts incumbents into the same district, or forces others to appeal to new voters to be re-elected. Particularly on the congressional level, that could help shift the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans. In the U.S. House, three California Democrats are among the 23 Democrats nationally who have already opted not to run for re-election in 2022. Combined with redistricting done by Republican-led legislatures in other states, that could tip the House in favor of the GOP. Some California Democrats have blasted the ‘unilateral disarmament’ of their power, though an initial analysis by the Cook Political Report says the new congressional map helps Democrats.”

• As a result of the new congressional map, the Coachella Valley has been split among two districts—including one in which the incumbent will be a conservative Republican. The Desert Sun reports via Yahoo! News: “U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, a Republican from Corona who has represented pockets of the Inland Empire since 1993, will be running for re-election next year in a newly drawn district that groups several Coachella Valley cities—including Palm Springs, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert—with Menifee, Norco and Corona in western Riverside County. … The Coachella Valley’s current congressman, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, said last week he will be seeking re-election in the valley’s other district, which was drawn to include Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Coachella, Indio and Imperial County. However, the new congressional map, which was finalized by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission on Dec. 20, is likely to result in a more competitive race for Calvert, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1992 and has comfortably won his last five elections.”

The Associated Press offers up a reminder about a federal program that I really, really hope none of you, our fantastic readers, qualify for: a program through FEMA that reimburses family members for funeral expenses after a loved one dies of COVID-19: “As of Dec. 6, about 226,000 people had shared in the nearly $1.5 billion that FEMA has spent on funeral costs that occurred after Jan. 20, 2020, the date of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. With the nation’s coronavirus death toll topping 800,000, it’s clear that many families who are eligible for reimbursement have yet to take advantage of the funeral benefit.”

• Painter Terry Masters passed away on Christmas Day due to a heart attack. He was 66 years old. The news was announced by his family on Masters’ Instagram page: “He will be dearly missed, not only for his award-winning plein air paintings that captured light in such a rare and beautiful way, but also for his infectious smile, wonderful sense of humor, and his giving and kind nature. Terry had a unique ability to make those he came into contact with feel appreciated and seen.” The Independent published a profile of Masters in April. He discussed what it was like to move to the desert when he was 12, with his parents and eight siblings, due to his asthmatic mother’s health: “I was the only one of my siblings who saw the beauty in the desert right away. The sun was always shining, and we could swim in our pool in January, and feel the balmy air in winter. I always thought of people from all over the world who were watching golf tournaments on TV, seeing how bright and sunny it was here while they were in the depths of winter.” We send our deepest sympathies to Masters’ family and loved ones.

• And now, for a little good news: The valley tradition that is the College of the Desert Street Fair will return this weekend! It’ll be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday, according to the website.

• And finally … it turns out there’s a correlation between COVID-19 spikes and negative reviews of Yankee Candles. Yes, really. SFGate explains: “For the uninitiated, Yankee Candles are a brand of candle known for their extremely potent scents. For the extremely uninitiated, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and one of the first symptoms of COVID-19 is loss of smell. … You can probably see where this is going: during spikes in COVID-19 infections, you see a corresponding spike in negative reviews of Yankee Candles—specifically ones where the reviewer complains that the candle smells wrong or has no smell at all. And this isn’t just a couple anecdotes or prank reviews: there’s a real, observable trend. Kate Petrova, a research assistant at the Harvard Study of Adult Development, scraped 20,000 reviews of the most popular scented candles on Amazon and found that it was real.”

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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...