COVID cases continue to decline in city; no official word yet on easing of mask restrictions

Newly reported cases of COVID in the city dropped to their lowest level in months, according to the latest data released Wednesday. But the news comes at the same time a spike in COVID in city wastewater is troubling at least one elected official.

A weekly report released Wednesday shows seven new cases were reported in the city in the past week. The city had averaged about 17 new cases per week during the four prior weeks. There were no new COVID deaths reported in Palm Springs last week — the third consecutive week without a reported COVID death.

Visitors crowd downtown Palm Springs during a recent Saturday evening. The city continues to report fewer and fewer new cases of COVID in the community, even as the number of visitors grows.

The relative good news comes with a word of caution from City Councilmember Geoff Kors, who reported Tuesday that there was a 1,000 percent increase in the presence of COVID found in samples of city wastewater taken April 20 compared to samples drawn the previous week. Kors said results of the wastewater samples could mean 2,178 people in the community are currently infected in the city — a possible increase of 174 cases from the prior week.

Kors acknowledged, however, that the increase in the presence of COVID in the wastewater may be due to an influx in visitors.

“The testing is of wastewater and includes all residents, workers, and visitors, so more cases is in part due to many more people in Palm Springs over the past two weeks,” he wrote in a post on social media. “The good news is that those vaccinated who contract COVID have a very small chance of having any symptoms or being hospitalized.”

To date the city has reported 3,728 cases of COVID in the community and 125 deaths. Riverside County, which remains in the “moderate” risk level (orange), has so far reported 298,000 cases and 4,559 deaths.

Earlier this week, the state moved to follow federal guidelines that now state fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors or dine at an outdoor restaurant without face coverings. Palm Springs officials have not formally stated whether the mask restrictions would be eased here.

“The pandemic is not over and the virus is still spreading,” Kors warned. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so to protect yourself and others.”


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BRIEFLY

An artist’s rendering of “Reforma,” a supper club and nightclub planned for the former Robinson’s Department Store building at 333 South Palm Canyon Drive.

DINNER CLUB MOVES FORWARD: A proposed “destination supper and nightclub” planned for an historic building in South Palm Springs has taken a crucial step closer to opening. “Reforma,” being developed by the owners of popular Chill Bar on Arenas Road, received unanimous approval Wednesday evening by the city’s Planning Commission for a conditional use permit to open its doors when complete. When that day comes, owners Rob Giesecke and William Vastardis said the club will feature 9,000-square-feet of space, with an outdoor terrace, DJ stage, dance floor, dining room, and bar. Hours will be 11 AM-2 AM, with mitigations for expected noise built into the permit. The business should employ the equivalent of 38 full-time employees. The building, a Class 1 historic building that formerly housed Robinson’s Department Store, is also home to BevMo and Orangetheory Fitness.

INDOOR FILM FEST: The Palm Springs International Film Society’s ShortFest will be the first film festival in the state to hold all of its screenings indoors in 2021 when the event returns to the Camelot Theatres June 22-28, it was announced Wednesday. The weeklong festival will also feature virtual classes and panels with industry representatives, filmmakers and additional guests to maximize audience participation and connect with international filmmakers unable to attend. ShortFest passes will go on sale on May 17 with schedule and tickets expected to be available the first week in June.

EVENTS

TODAY

  • STORY TIME: “Read-To-Me Story Time” with Nancy Valdivia, the city’s children’s librarian, takes place at 10 AM this morning on YouTube and Facebook.
  • DINING OUT FOR LIFE: Restaurants in Palm Springs who usually donate a portion of their sales on this day each year to help people in the community living with HIV/AIDS will instead be the beneficiaries of the event. “Because of the struggles that many of our restaurants have had this last year with COVID, we have decided that instead of asking for financial support from restaurants we are asking the community to please support locally-owned restaurants by ordering take-out or dining in / eating out on April 29th,” DAP Health said in a statement. For information on restaurants you can support, go here.

ONGOING

  • OUTDOOR ART: Desert X art installations are on display throughout the Coachella Valley, including several within the Palm Springs city limits. The free event runs through May 16. A map of the installations can be found here. Some require reservations to view.
  • VACCINES: Anyone 16 and older now qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine in Riverside County. If you qualify, you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 8 AM-5 PM today, and all week through Friday. Appointments are encouraged, but not required, and can be reserved online at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. You can also find a list of community providers such as pharmacies here.

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