Coachella Valley Independent

Daily Digest: March 19, 2021

A week or two ago, a friend of mine decided it was time to buy a hot tub.

He figured the process would be fairly simple: He’d go to several places, pick out the best option for him, arrange to have it delivered and installed … and then he’d have a hot tub.

Well … let’s just say that didn’t happen.

It turns out that due to the pandemic, it’s nigh impossible to get a hot tub these days. He went several places, and was told that depending on the model he wanted, he’d have a minimum wait of 16 weeks—and it could be a year or even more.

There are two pandemic-related reasons for this: First … with people being home, like, a lot, the demand for hot tubs shot through the roof. As reported by the Los Angeles Business Journal in November:

Hot tub and pool sales nationally are up about 25% on average, according to the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. 

Hot tub manufacturers and dealers in the Los Angeles area say they are experiencing a surge in demand, with one dealer reporting that sales in 2020 have tripled compared to 2019. 

But with the jump in demand has come longer-than-usual wait times for customers and a nationwide shortage of supplies for manufacturers. 

The second reason is alluded to in that last sentence, and elaborated upon in this Spokane Journal of Business piece:

When the pandemic arrived in the U.S., the overwhelming majority of hot-tub manufacturers experienced shutdowns of four to eight weeks due to stay-at-home orders issued by their respective state governments, he says.

Deemed an essential business in the state of Washington, in part due to the fact Pool World company sells disinfecting and sanitizing products, the company saw a surge in sales from customers who were stranded at home, says (a pool and spa sales manager). … But once manufacturers re-opened, they had to contend with a backlog of already existing orders that needed to be filled while facing a newfound wave of demand in the product.”

Local hot-tub sellers told my friend that the situation been worsened by supply-chain problems—because companies that make hot-tub parts have been slowed by the pandemic as well.

It’s not just hot tubs that are being affected by supply-chain disruptions. Toyota and Honda temporary stopped production at U.S. factories this week due to a lack of supplies. And according to The Wall Street Journal—in a piece with the headline “Everywhere You Look, the Global Supply Chain Is a Mess“—the recent extreme weather and the power fustercluck in Texas made an already big problem worse.

Americans have been spoiled in recent decades by a seeming ability to get whatever we want, whenever we want, as long as we have enough money to pay a fair price. Thanks to the pandemic, Mother Nature and political ineptitude, we have that ability no more.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

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A Privilege to Be Playing: Palm Desert’s Casuelas Café Mixes Things Up With Live Music Every Day

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The Weekly Independent Comics Page for March 18, 2021!

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And Now, the News

It looks like Goldenvoice isn’t going to attempt to have Coachella at all in 2021, and will instead plan for an April 2022 edition instead. Variety reports: “The move, if it is officially confirmed, marks the fourth time the dates for Coachella, which takes place over two weekends at the Empire Polo Ground in Indio, Calif., have been rescheduled: first from April to October 2020, then to April 2021, and then October, although the October dates were not officially confirmed by promoters and there have been no dates posted on the festival’s official website for several months.”

The city of Palm Springs, at long last, is taking action against the owners of various stalled hotel projects. According to a city news release: “The Palm Springs City Council has authorized the City Attorney’s Office to proceed with legal action in order to force the owners of four hotels—the Andaz Hotel on Palm Canyon Drive, the Dream Hotel on Amado Road, the Orchid Tree on Belardo Road and the TOVA on North Palm Canyon—to complete those projects. All four hotel projects have stalled, resulting in uncompleted projects. These properties constitute a nuisance to their neighborhoods and to the community at large. In light of the waning COVID-19 numbers and the return of the tourism industry, the city of Palm Springs expects these owners and developers to see these hotel projects to completion.”

• Hmm. The Press-Enterprise reports: “The post of Riverside County’s public health officer, who has played a key role in the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, is the subject of a scheduled closed-door discussion at the Tuesday, March 23, Board of Supervisors meeting. The agenda lists discussion of an ‘appointment’ for that post, but it’s not clear whether supervisors plan to replace Dr. Cameron Kaiser, who has held the job since 2011. County spokeswoman Brooke Federico said Thursday, March 18, that Kaiser remains the public health officer.”

• Example No. 295,234 of how truly little we know about the dang virus: The New York Times reports that some—but not all—COVID-19 long-haulers are experiencing remarkable recoveries after receiving a vaccine. Here’s what happened to Judy Dodd, who has been dealing with headaches and exhaustion since the spring, four days after receiving the first Pfizer dose: “‘I woke up and it was like “Oh what a beautiful morning,”‘ said Ms. Dodd, a middle-school teacher who is also an actor and director. ‘It was like I’d been directing ‘Sweeney Todd’ for months, and now I’m directing Oklahoma.’ Ms. Dodd, who continues to feel good, is among a number of people who are reporting that the post-COVID symptoms they’ve experienced for months have begun improving, sometimes significantly, after they got the vaccine. It’s a phenomenon that doctors and scientists are watching closely, but as with much about the yearlong coronavirus pandemic, there are many uncertainties.”

FEMA will help cover funeral costs for some COVID-19 victims. According to the AARP: “People who need aid covering the financial costs of funerals for loved ones who died of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $7,000 in assistance from the federal relief legislation that was enacted in March. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—the government agency handling this program—is still finalizing the details about what people need to do to apply for relief. But FEMA has announced that it will start the program in April, so the application process will begin soon.”

SFGate asked various health officials: Is it unethical to skip the vaccine line? The responses were surprisingly nuanced, but there was one clear conclusion: “Health experts seem to agree that anyone who flat out lies to get a vaccine for no good reason is acting unethically.”

• I was again a guest on the I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast this week, joining hosts John Taylor, Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr. Click here to hear me talk about the county’s move into the red tier, my concerns about increasing case counts elsewhere, and the housing crisis in the east valley.

• Speaking of my concerns about increasing case counts elsewhere … one reason for that concern is this interview MedPage Today did with Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist who was one of the first people to sound the alarm about COVID-19 in January 2020, Key quote: “It’s kind of like reflexivity, as we say in the financial markets. It’s going to bounce back and actually make it worse, because people are going to open businesses way more and take their precautions off-guard way more once the elderly are vaccinated. That could actually lead to another wave, and that’s why I’m pretty certain … that in April or May there will be a surge of some sort.”

• Related-ish: Dr. Anthony Fauci said yesterday that Americans should not “wed” themselves to the concept of herd immunity. As CNN explains: “‘We don’t really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we’re going to be in good shape. We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix,’ Fauci said during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.”

• The CDC has revised its guidance for schools, as CNBC breaks down: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday revised its guidance on social distancing in schools, saying most students can now sit 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet so long as they are wearing masks. The recommendation is for all K-12 students, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate or substantial, the CDC said.” Distance requirements have been a problem in some schools, simply due to a lack of space.

• What’s next for mRNA vaccines after their success against SARS-CoV-2? According to The Associated Press: “The scientist who won the race to deliver the first widely used coronavirus vaccine says people can rest assured the shots are safe, and the technology behind it will soon be used to fight another global scourge—cancer. Ozlem Tureci, who co-founded the German company BioNTech with her husband, was working on a way to harness the body’s immune system to tackle tumors when they learned last year of an unknown virus infecting people in China.”

• The Los Angeles Times’ Gustavo Arellano tackles this question: “Why do so many Mexican Americans defend Speedy Gonzales?” Key quote: “I’m no spoilsport or wokoso (a portmanteau of ‘woke’ and a mocoso—a snot-nosed brat) about the cute rascal. I never saw a stereotype when I first saw his cartoons as a boy—I saw my culture at a time when the English-language media didn’t bother with us outside of crime and immigration. He danced our dances and dressed like a jarocho (a native of Veracruz) and sounded like my country cousins, to be honest. He was the only Mexican in Hollywood I knew who never lost—well, him and Cheech and Chong.”

• And finally … I HIGHLY recommend this video by popular YouTuber Mark Rober; it’s gotten more than 9 million videos in a day for a reason: He explains how phone scammers have such amazing success … and then teams up with others, including law enforcement, to get revenge. (Glitter bombs and fart spray are involved.) Not only should you take the 22 minutes needed to watch this; you should have less tech-savvy friends and family members, who may be susceptible to scams, watch it too. It’s, in a word, fantastic.

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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...