5 Things to Know: Friday, September 25

Welcome to 5 Things to Know – a daily rundown of things you might want to be aware of if you live in, visit, or just like being aware about what’s going on in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. As always, thank you for your continued support of Cactus Hugs.

1) The Coronavirus

Riverside County reported 295 new cases and 10 new reported deaths in the last 24 hours. There have now been 1,189 people who have been reported dead from coronavirus in the county this year.  142 people are currently in hospitals being treated for coronavirus.  39 of them are currently in the ICU.

Here is the latest on what’s going on in the desert:


  • Movie theaters are once again open in the Coachella Valley.  Outside of films like Tenet and New Mutants, most films being shown are nostalgia flicks like Star Wars and Goonies.  Some theaters are offering the chance to rent out an entire theater for your family or a small group.  KESQ reports on what things are like at the Mary Pickford Theater, which still plans to open a drive-in theater next week.
  • California’s Health and Human Services Secretary expressed some concerns about the current coronavirus trends in the state on Friday after Labor Day, the fires, and the lifting of some safety protocols in various counties.  “We see these trend lines, which had been coming down and then flattening, now looking like they may be coming up, and not just over one or two days but over the course of a handful of days, we want to sound that bell for all of you,” he said.  The secretary urged everyone to continue wearing a mask and practice social distancing.
  • California passed 800,000 infections this week, the highest in the nation.  The state has also seen over 15,000 deaths from coronavirus, which is the third highest number of deaths for a state behind New York and New Jersey.

2) The Fires

Dozens of fires continue to burn in California, Oregon, and Washington.   Currently, 17,400 men and woman are taking on 25 major wildfires in the state of California that have burned over 3.2 million acres:

Some important links:

  • The LA Times is tracking each of the major fires on this online map. The San Francisco Chronicle also has a similar map to track the blazes.
  • The El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains has now scorched over 22,604 acres and was 81% contained as of Wednesday morning.
  • The Snow Fire burning near Palm Springs was last reported to be nearly 85% contained, according to Cal Fire. The fire has scorched 6,254 acres.
  • A fall heat wave is set to hit Southern California starting this weekend, potentially bringing triple-digit temperatures and elevated fire danger to the region:

3) Authorities Seek Help Locating Firefighter Who Went Missing Near Big Bear

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public’s help in finding an off-duty Big Bear Hotshot firefighter who went missing five days ago.

Carlos Alexander Baltazar, 35, was last seen on Sunday.  On the same day, an abandoned vehicle linked to Baltazar was located in the remote area of Highway 18 and Delta Avenue.  Officials told KTLA the car had been involved in a minor collision, but it was unknown if the vehicle had been disabled because of the crash

A search turned up Baltazar’s backpack about 75 yards from where the vehicle had been found.

4) Gala Season is Looking a Whole Lot Different This Year

Typically, starting in late October, the desert is filled with a gala fundraiser for a different charity almost every night.  But, in the age of coronavirus, that’s just not happening.  The Desert Sun has a rundown of the annual events – what’s being postponed, what’s being cancelled, and what’s being turned into a virtual event.

5) Desert X to Return in 2021

Desert X announced on Friday evening that they are planning to once again showcase art installations in the Spring of 2021.

“I am pleased to confirm that our third edition will open as scheduled February 6 – April 11, 2021 at sites across the Coachella Valley, and it will again be free and open to all,” Susan Davis, the organization’s Founder & President, wrote in an email.

“Taking place outdoors in the California desert, Desert X 2021 may prove to be the first art and cultural experience in the Coachella Valley, perhaps in California, since lockdown,” she added. “We believe it will provide a much-needed opportunity to lift spirits and allow visitors and their families to enjoy and engage safely with art by some of today’s most important contemporary artists”

No further information was provided.

Updates will resume on Monday.  Have a nice weekend. 

Stay safe.  Stay smart.  Wear a mask. Seriously though, wear a mask.  💚🌵