5 Things to Know: Monday, September 28

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 754 new cases and 17 new reported deaths since Friday.  There have now been over 1,200 people who have lost their life to COVID-19 in the county.  

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


  • In May, the Riverside County Supervisors hosted two days of hearings that more resembled a clown show before rescinding the county’s health orders, which included a mask requirement in public areas.  Cases and deaths from coronavirus surged, which led to the state closing down business sectors once again.  This week, Supervisor Jeff Hewitt was at it again, calling for all businesses to reopen in the county with little in terms of restrictions.  He was joined by a handful of politicians from neighboring counties and Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, who spent the early part of the pandemic gloating on Fox News about not enforcing mask orders.
  • Meanwhile, grocery stores and food producers across the United States are quietly building up inventory as they anticipate another surge in coronavirus cases this fall.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that the positivity rate for coronavirus cases has dropped to 2.8% over a two-week average, while also cautioning that the rate of the the virus spreading has been increasing in Southern California.
  • While those opposing such measures have been the most vocal, a new poll by the Washington Post shows an overwhelming number of Americans are willing to do things like wear a mask, work with contact tracers, and stay home to fight the coronavirus.

2) The Fires

Dozens of fires continue to burn in California, Oregon, and Washington.   Currently, over 18,000 men and woman are taking on 27 major wildfires in the state of California.  Since the beginning of the year, there have been over 8,100 wildfires that have burned well over 3.7 million acres in California. Since August 15, when California’s fire activity elevated, there have been 26 fatalities and over 7,000 structures destroyed.

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 22,668 acres and was 92% contained as of Monday morning.
  • The Snow Fire burning near Palm Springs was last reported to be nearly 95% contained, according to Cal Fire. The fire has scorched 6,254 acres.

3) Murder-Suicide Leaves 2 Men Dead in Beaumont

Two men are dead after an incident Saturday night in Beaumont that police believe was a murder-suicide.

A woman called 9-1-1 to report her husband shot a neighbor at a home on Trevino Trail, according to police.  Officers say they arrived to find one man dead on the kitchen floor and another inside a bedroom, reports the Press Enterprise.

The coroner’s office identified Joshua Vasquez, 41, as the person who was shot first, at 11:07 p.m. Seven minutes later, Jeromy Smith, 48, also suffered fatal wounds.

No further details were released.

4) Search Still on for Firefighter Who Went Missing Near Big Bear

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department continues to search for a firefighter who went missing near Big Bear last week.  The department released some new information about a vehicle on Monday and asked that anyone who was in the area of Hwy 18 and Delta Ave on September 20th to contact them.

Carlos Alexander Baltazar, 35, was last seen on Sunday, September 20.  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.  On Monday, police announced that Baltazar, who was off-duty at the time, may have been picked up near his vehicle by someone driving a Subaru.

Anyone with information should contact the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station at (909) 866-0100 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at (909) 866-7581.


5) Well, Hello There!

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens passed along this photo of their newest addition to the Australian Adventures experience. It’s a tiny baby wallaby, also called a joey, that you see peeking out of his momma’s pouch.

“We are so excited to finally meet our new wallaby joey,” RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care of the Living Desert said.  “We’ve seen it moving around in mom’s pouch for a few weeks and have been eager to see the joey’s face emerge. We estimate the joey was born mid-May and is now about four months old with its eyes open and peach fuzz beginning to grow. We expect it will be another two months before the joey fully emerges from the pouch; however, guests will start to see the joey exploring its new surroundings in the coming weeks.”

The gender of the baby is not yet known.  Staff plans to perform a well-baby exam in a few months, once the joey has fully emerged and left the pouch.

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