Coachella Valley coronavirus news and info | Wednesday, May 20

(📸: Sharon Calcagno)

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 Tuesday, Riverside County officials have confirmed:

  • 6,053 people have officially tested positive for COVID-19.
    • 101 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.
    • 9 people have been reported dead in the last 24 hours.
  • There are currently 195 confirmed cases hospitalized.
    • 68 of those people in the ICU.
  • There have been 3,871 official recovered cases in the county.
  • The county has conducted 86,600 tests.
    • There have been 1,296 reported tests in the last 24 hours.

As of 3 pm Tuesday, San Bernardino County has confirmed 3,707 cases of COVID-19.  There have been 157 deaths in San Bernardino County.

As of 10:30 pm Tuesday, there have been 83,844 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in California.  There have been 3,419 confirmed deaths in the state.


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


The LA Times has been analyzing the data and found that California is “showing significant progress” in taking on COVID-19.  The paper notes that, “while deaths remain a stubborn challenge,” the number of newly identified coronavirus cases across the state has declined last week from the previous week (dropping from 13,041 to 12,229). In addition, hospitalizations have dropped more than 15% from their peak six weeks ago. “What’s really fantastic about this is that, for right now, our curve is not only flat, but it’s actually decreasing in terms of number of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health. “So this is very hopeful.”

In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division accused California of discriminating against churches during the coronavirus pandemic.  The letter states that restaurants and other businesses are being allowed to reopen, but worshippers remain barred from gathering in person. “Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” the letter states. The letter was sent just days after reports that more than 180 people who attended a Mother’s Day service at a church during the lockdown in Butte County may have been exposed after one attendee tested positive the following day.

Employees with the City of La La Quinta have agreed to a wage and benefits freeze for the fiscal year as the city works to meet a a nearly $ 3 million budget deficit due to lost revenues from the pandemic. Total savings to the city from the agreement is $370,000. Mayor Linda Evans thanked employees for agreeing to the freeze.  She told the newspaper, “These are trying times.”

Emergency departments and ambulance services in Imperial County will “divert” all COVID-positive patients to other facilities around the region until further notice.  Officials suggest the move is necessary following a surge in COVID-19 patients who are US citizens who live in Mexicali. “We want to make sure we don’t overwhelm either one of the hospitals with and overwhelm the system with COVID-positive patients to the point that we can’t take care of you,” said the CEO of El Centro Regional Medical Center. He did not say where patients are being diverted.

Around the state: Tuesday, LA County announced a target of July 4 to reopen. Meanwhile, San Diego County moved to ask the state if it could jump to Stage 3 of the reopening plan (which would allow the opening of swimming pools, gyms, and nail salons). Supervisors voted 3-2 on in Tulare County to buck the governor’s orders and allow  businesses and churches to reopen “effective immediately.”

If you have been waiting for your tax refund or to hear back about other IRS-related matters, you are probably going to have to wait a while longer. The agency has been trying to get its workforce back, but is struggling to ensure the safety of its employees.  The agency has seen multiple infections and, as of Monday, only about 3,000 customer-service and clerical workers had volunteered to return to the office, an absentee rate of almost 75 percent.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against COVID-19.  He also claimed that “thousands” of medical professionals were doing the same. The American Medical Association, the country’s largest medical association, told NBC News that it, “does not know of any tracking or surveys examining HCQ use among health care workers.”

Rigorous exercise in crowded fitness facilities could increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus, according to a new study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s peer-reviewed journal. The study suggested that turbulent airflow caused by exercise can combine with the warm, moist atmosphere of sports facilities to cause more dense transmission of droplets. In the study, South Korean scientists traced a cluster of confirmed infections to a four-hour fitness dance workshop in February. Of the 27 instructors who participated in the workshop, eight tested positive for the coronavirus. They were all asymptomatic at the time. By March 9, the researchers found 112 infections associated with fitness dance classes in 12 sports facilities in the area.

A trio of local casinos — Spotlight 29, Tortoise Rock, and Morongo Casino Resort & Spa — plan to reopen on Friday. Gov. Gavin Newsom urged state tribes not not to reopen their gaming facilities in a letter last week – but, as sovereign nations, they are not required to follow Newsom’s reopening plan.  Here are some of the measures that Spotlight 29 says will be in place at the opening to protect guests:

  • Employees will be tested for prior to returning to work and will receive periodic testing going forward for the foreseeable future
  • Temperature checks at the door for employees and guests.
  • Mandatory face coverings required for everyone.
  • Hand sanitization stations throughout the casino.
  • All contact surfaces in the casino cleaned at least once an hour.
  • 50% of  slot chairs have been removed to encourage distancing between players.
  • The addition of a “brand-new state-of-the-art UV air purification and ionization system.”
  • The JEM Cafe has “been modified to accommodate proper distancing between parties.”
  • The Casino will close everyday from 3 am to 7 am for deep cleaning.

Finally, thinking about grabbing some takeout?  Here are some local spots you may enjoy:

Do you ever wake up with a sweet tooth? Our #Sloans Dutch Apple Rollup Crepes are here to please. Order yours for pickup or delivery 👉sloansrestaurant.com/menu

Posted by Sloan's Restaurant on Monday, May 18, 2020

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.