5 Things to Know: Wednesday, September 23

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 213 new cases and one new reported death in the last 24 hours. Here is the latest on what’s going on in the desert:


  • Scientists in Houston released a study of more than 5,000 genetic sequences of the coronavirus on Wednesday.  The study found a continual accumulation of mutations, one of which may have made COVID-19 more contagious in the U.S. – though researchers say it has not, as of yet, made the virus deadlier.
  • Google Maps is rolling out a new feature later this week that will allow users to view a “COVID” layer in the app that will show the seven-day average number of confirmed cases in each area per 100,000 people.
  • Restaurants in Riverside County are once again allowed to offer indoor dining, with limited occupancy.  The Desert Sun checked in with some local eateries about how they are handling their dining rooms reopening and the safety measures they have in place.

2) The Snow Fire

As of Wednesday morning, the fire burning near Palm Springs has burned over 6,254 acres and was 67% contained. A representative with the Desert Water Agency confirmed to the Desert Sun on Wednesday that one of its work trucks was destroyed in the Snow Fire, but authorities are not saying if that vehicle responsible for starting the fire.

3) The Other Fires

Dozens of fires continue to burn in California, Oregon, and Washington.   Currently, 18,200 men and woman are taking on 26 major wildfires in the state of California that have burned over 3.1 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 22,601 acres and was 68% contained as of Wednesday morning.

4) Palm Springs PD Searching for Kidnapping Suspect

The Palm Springs Police Department announced on Wednesday that they were searching for a 33-year-old man accused of kidnapping an ex-girlfriend at gunpoint. The woman, who was able to escape, told police he then drove her around the Coachella Valley and at one point firing a round into the air.

There may have been a struggle in the vehicle after it broke down near Costco in Palm Desert about 11 am and the victim was able to escape and call authorities.  The suspect fled the scene on foot.

Police are now searching for Manuel Valadez.  They caution that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

5) It Appears the Rancho Mirage In-N-Out Could Still Be a Thing

With all the madness of 2020, you may have forgotten the insanity that once surrounded the possibility of building an In-N-Out Burger in Rancho Mirage.  Well, guess what?  It turns out, even though we thought it was probably not happening…it might still be happening!

There is now a draft environmental impact report for the proposed drive-thru on Highway 111 and Bob Hope Drive on the city’s website.  The public has until Nov. 6 to submit written comments about the project which the Desert Sun reports “will ultimately come back for a second round of public hearings and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council.”

This should be interesting.

Stay safe.  Stay smart.  Wear a mask. Vote. 💚🌵