Coachella Valley coronavirus news and info | Thursday, May 21

(📸: Sue Farris)

Cactus Hugs has been tracking local stories about the coronavirus.   For a rundown of all of our updates, click here. Stay safe, stay at a good social distance.

Thank you for your continued support of Cactus Hugs. For ways to keep this website going (and free!), click here.

As of 3 pm Wednesday, Riverside County officials have confirmed:

  • 6,184 people have officially tested positive for COVID-19.
    • 131 people have been reported to have tested positive in the last 24 hours.
  • 270 people are confirmed to have died in the county from the coronavirus.
    • There were no reported deaths in the last 24 hours.
  • There are currently 189 confirmed cases hospitalized.
    • 69 of those people in the ICU.
  • There have been 3,884 official recovered cases in the county.
  • The county has conducted 89,744 tests.

As of 3 pm Wednesday, San Bernardino County has confirmed 3,795 cases of COVID-19.  There have been 158 deaths in San Bernardino County.

As of 4 pm Wednesday, there have been 86,166 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California.  There have been 3,501 confirmed deaths in the state.


The numbers increase everyday.  They are more than just numbers.  They are people we have lost:


California recorded the most coronavirus-related fatalities on a single day on Tuesday (132). The previous high for a day was 117 in late April.  While deaths remain high, the LA Times does note some good signs, such as the number of newly identified coronavirus cases in the state have declined from the last week.  In addition, hospitalizations have dropped more than 15% from a peak six weeks ago, according to the Times analysis.

A pair of peer-reviewed lab studies using rhesus macaque monkeys suggest that antibodies created in response to COVID-19 provide immunity from the disease. The research in the studies suggesting one can’t become reinfected with the coronavirus were both published in the journal Science on Wednesday. To this point, scientists have stopped short of saying that the presence of antibodies equates to immunity from the disease. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the World Health Organization said on April 24.

Disease experts at Columbia University have concluded that if the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak.  According to their research, if the country had acted two weeks sooner, 83% of the country’s deaths would’ve been avoided.

The Palm Springs City Council will meet at 3 pm today.  The starting time is earlier than the typical 6 pm start time as it’s expected to run long, as the council discusses how to deal with a potential $76 million budget deficit through June 2021.  Also to be discussed: Extending a temporary ban on all vacation rentals and hotel stays through June.

The City of Indio will consider a mask order in the coming weeks.  The issue was not an agenda item during this week’s city council meeting, but City Manager Mark Scott asked the council about the possibility of instituting the requirement for the city as part of a larger discussion about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders and how it might help to quicken the reopening of the local economy. Mayor Glenn Miller and Councilmen Oscar Ortiz and Waymond Fermon suggested they were in favor of it, while Mayor Pro Tem Elaine Holmes and Councilwoman Lupe Ramos Amith said they were opposed to the idea. “There’s a good segment of the community that can’t even wear a mask because it prohibits their ability to breathe,” Amith said.

More than 1,200 California pastors pledged to resume in-person services on May 31, the Pentecost. California’s stay-at-home orders currently have a moratorium on large gatherings. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a lawyer representing a Lodi church said the religious leaders were declaring their churches to be just as essential hardware or grocery stores. “This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission,” he wrote.

New jobless figures show that an additional 2.4 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week. More than 38.6 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits over nine weeks, the Labor Department reported in its most recent update.

As California begins to reopen, customers have been slow to come back.  Napa became the first county in the Bay Area to reopen restaurants for in-house dining on Wednesday – with only light customer traffic. “Confidence is something we need to build in the community,” a restaurant owner told the LA Times. “It will be a slow return.”  Meanwhile, things look a bit better for shopping malls, as the general manager of the Chico Mall in Butte County and the Yuba Sutter Mall in Yuba City told the newspaper that they have decent traffic at each location. “The feedback from our shoppers is that they are very excited to get back to a sense of normalcy,” she said. “They are treating themselves to a nice set of shoes or some other item they’ve been used to, to boost their mood. This is something they treasured before and they’re treasuring it even more now.”

More than 1 in 5 adults in the US said they had visited a restaurant in the past 24 hours in a survey, which is up from only 13% who said they did so last week.  The poll’s question did not specify if people dined in or got takeout. The survey also found more people visiting other people’s home (up to 23 % from 19 % a week ago), and more people going to non-grocery stores (up to 25 % from 20 %).

In another poll out today, nearly 4 out of 5 Americans say they are concerned about a second wave of the virus.  Nearly 2/3s of Americans believe it will take six months or longer for their lives to return to “normal.”:

Joshua Tree National Park has reopened to visitors this week.  The two-month closure did have a bit of a silver lining.  Friends of Joshua Tree told LAist that there have been more wildlife sightings at Barker Dam  and plants have been spotted sprouting on popular unpaved trails. “They have wildflowers growing and native grasses and other plants that are taking root there in what would have been heavily-trafficked areas,” a member of the group said.

Palm Springs merchants will take part in a “Curbside Retail Shop Local” campaign during Memorial Day Weekend. As in-store shopping is not allowed, shoppers are encouraged to call ahead or purchase online for curbside pickup.  10% of proceeds from Saturday through Monday will benefit the Palm Springs Animal Shelter.

Finally, a quick note.  These updates will pause from Saturday through Monday for Memorial Day Weekend.  Also, starting Tuesday, these updates will be posted once a day in the afternoon, with other stories (coronavirus and non-coronavirus) posted as necessary throughout the day. I hope you find at least some way to enjoy part of the weekend – as I will be attempting to do the same.  I thank you for your continued support of Cactus Hugs. – Casey

That’s all for this morning. Stay safe. Stay smart. Stay home.   

Thank you for your continued support of Cactus Hugs.

These are stressful times for all of us. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and our desert community stronger. This link has some resources to help with coping and also numbers to call or text if you, or someone you know, feels overwhelmed.

Please, take care of yourself and each other. You are important. You are valued. You are loved. 💚🌵

Anything we missed? Let us know about it.