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Darkness this July 4; Omicron Subvariants Are Making More People Sick – Coachella Valley Independent’s Indy Digest: July 4, 2022

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• Results of last week’s testing of Palm Springs sewage for SARS-CoV-2 levels were not released today due to the holidays; we will have this information in Thursday’s Indy Digest. However, this story from the Los Angeles Times has us guessing that the number will unfortunately increase:In a sign of how the novel coronavirus wave continues to spread through California, two-thirds of the state’s counties are now at the COVID-19 high community level, in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of United States recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces. . It comes as health officials warn for weeks to come as two new, ultra-infectious subvariants of Omicron – BA.4 and BA.5 – spread. Experts believe the subvariants, which are not only particularly contagious but also able to re-infect those who survived a previous Omicron infection, are a major factor in the continued persistence of coronavirus transmission across California. … Although experts are concerned, there are still uncertainties about the severity of a summer surge. (For the record, Riverside County isn’t one of those counties; we’re at medium risk right now…but we’re headed in the wrong direction.)

• Related: The New York Times asks the question: “Covid Shots updates are coming. Will they be too late?” Key quote: “The question is whether these modified boosters will arrive in time. to match the latest forms of the virus, the FDA has asked vaccine makers to adapt their new vaccines to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, rather than the original Omicron release from last winter. Virologists have said a subvariant vaccine will not only generate the strongest immune defenses against current versions of the virus, but also the kind of broad antibody response that will help protect against any form of virus emerging in the coming months. . But building a fall booster campaign around the cutting-edge vaccines of the virus could also come at a cost. Pfizer and Moderna said they could deliver doses of the subvariant vaccine no earlier than October. Some FDA advisers warned at a public meeting last week that the schedule could be further slowed by a number of routine delays..”

• Our partners at CalMatters examine changes to California’s concealed carry permit laws following one of the United States Supreme Court’s rulings last week: “Over the past decade, the county of Orange issued 65,171 permits to carry a concealed handgun and Fresno and Sacramento counties issued more than 45,000. San Francisco issued 11. That’s according to data released online Monday by the Department of California Justice, but have since been taken down after reporters discovered the open database included the names, home addresses and other personal information of more than 200,000 concealed-carry permit holders in the state. The wide variation between counties was at the heart of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last week, which struck down New York State’s Concealed Carry Licensing Program, which is very similar to that of California and which gave local law enforcement broad discretion in determining who should be allowed to carry a concealed handgun in public. …June 23 court ruling requires San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to behave more like Orange County’s, at least until state lawmakers pass new legislation.”

• We know climate change is bad…but is it also responsible for an increase in foodborne illness? Yes, says one epidemiologist, writing for The Conversation: “The link between foodborne illness and climate change is quite simple: the pathogens that cause many foodborne infections are temperature sensitive. This is because hot and humid weather conditions stimulate bacterial growth. Three main factors govern the spread of foodborne diseases: 1) the abundance, growth, range and survival of pathogens in crops, livestock and the environment; 2) the transfer of these pathogens to food; and 3) human exposure to pathogens. … A growing problem is that heat waves, wildfires and severe storms are triggering more and more power outages, which in turn are affecting food storage and handling practices in stores, production and distribution and homes. A review of federal data in 2022 found that major weather-related power outages in the United States had doubled in the previous two decades. California often experiences smaller-scale outages during heat waves and times of high wildfire risk. This can happen on the hottest and, in some areas, the most humid days, creating ideal conditions for bacteria to grow..”

• Related and disgusting is this article from CBS News: “Nearly 1.4 million Americans are infected with salmonella each year, including 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths, with food the main source of illness, officials say health authorities. … The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said last month it was rethinking its approach to salmonella in poultry in light of recently published research. Research found that standards implemented in 2016 significantly reduced salmonella in chicken, but not salmonella-related illnesses linked to poultry consumption. A rise in antimicrobial-resistant strains is part of the problem, according to findings published by the International Journal of Food Microbiology and released last week by FSIS. The agency is currently considering whether to change its strategy and plans to hold a public hearing on the matter later in the year, she said. The agency’s review comes amid new poultry findings from Consumer Reports, which said Friday it detected salmonella in a third, or 23, of 75 ground chicken samples tested..”

• And finally… it was a dark and depressing Indy Digest, and for that, I apologize. Let’s end on a bright note though, about a great show for a good cause. Excerpt from the press release:Bill Marx and his jazz trio return on Sunday July 10 to benefit local charity ACT for Multiple Sclerosis (ACT for MS). Celebrate summer with relaxing entertainment and camaraderie while helping us improve the quality of life for ACT for MS clients. Doors open at 4 p.m. for organized cocktails and appetizers, live music throughout, and a buffet dinner. The event is held at Bellatrix at the Classic Club, 75200 Classic Club Blvd., Palm Desert, CA 92211. …Tickets are $150 per person (seating is empty) or $1,500 for a VIP table of 8. Price includes a tax-deductible donation for the Palm Desert-based charity that provides free services to local clients with multiple sclerosis. Silent auction items will also be available. Get more information or tickets at

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