Despite state, county easing rules, Palm Springs officials not yet prepared to lift COVID-19 restrictions
Masks may be coming off throughout California and elsewhere in Riverside County, but in Palm Springs, they’re staying on for now.
City officials announced Tuesday they are not quite ready to declare an end to emergency orders put into place last year to combat COVID-19. That means that masks must be worn inside all city businesses and city buildings for now. A requirement to show proof of vaccination to dine indoors at restaurants also remains in effect.
Last week, the Palm Springs City Council voted to give City Manager Justin Clifton the authority to decide when to remove the City’s COVID-19 restrictions. He was instructed to base his decisions on data and metrics and suggested milestones such as two multiple consecutive weeks in decline in cases and hospitalizations. As of Tuesday, Communications Director Amy Blaisdell said case number declines are not as significant as other areas in the state, and the rules will remain in place.
The announcement came at the same time the city has re-opened its buildings to the public. It also coincides with announcements from several entertainment venues in the Coachella Valley that they will continue to require masks to be worn due to the area’s vulnerable older population. However, organizers of two large outdoor festivals — Coachella and Stagecoach — said Tuesday they will no longer require proof of COVID-19 vaccination, testing, or masking when those events occur this spring.
“We hope these trends will continue to decline and that Palm Springs can align its requirements with the state of California very soon,” said Clifton.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the lifting of the mandate for vaccinated individuals is the result of a 65% drop in the infection rate since the peak of the winter surge caused by the Omicron variant, as well as a stabilization in hospitalization numbers. But he stressed that “unvaccinated people will still need to wear masks indoors.”
The mask-wearing requirement will also remain in effect for everyone in select indoor locations, such as public transit centers, airports, schools, emergency shelters, health care facilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and long-term care and senior care facilities.
At this moment, some 2,500 students in the Palm Springs Unified School District are classified as “homeless”… living in a car or motel, crowded in with other families or literally on the streets. Aside from the issues brought about by the lack of a permanent roof over their head, a great many of them — a huge number — need shoes.
We’re asking you to help by contributing what you can, as soon as possible, so we can quickly get these shoes. The Fogelson Family Foundation will match up to $25,000 of the contributions.
TOWN HALLS UNDERWAY: Dozens of community members turned out for the first of five neighborhood town hall meetings conducted by the Palm Springs Police Department Tuesday evening. The event, moved from Victoria Park to Palm Springs Fire Department Station 3 due to winds, was an opportunity for the community to tell police what they should prioritize as they work to make the city safer. After a kickoff from Police Chief Andy Mills, leadership at the department gathered with citizens to walk through exercises designed to engage them in the problem-solving process. Four more town halls are scheduled through Saturday. More information is available here at the city’s website.
FATAL ROLLOVER: Authorities said one person was killed Tuesday in Palm Springs when a vehicle rolled over and the driver was ejected, dying at the scene. The Palm Springs Police Department alerted the public at 8:21 a.m. that Gene Autry Trail between Salvia Road and Via Escuela was closed for an unknown duration due to the fatal accident and high winds. The cause of the accident was under investigation. Lt. William Hutchinson said the road would remain closed after police clear the area due to the winds. Indian Canyon Drive between Sunrise Parkway and Garnet Avenue was also closed due to high winds. Near the same time, police also investigated reports of shots fired in the area of Indian Canyon Drive and 20th Avenue. That report did not result in any action.
UPDATE ON BODY: While a Riverside County Coroner’s report is not yet publicly available, Palm Springs police said Tuesday evening that the man whose body was discovered last week in the roadway near the intersection of Tachevah Drive and Biskra Road likely died as the result of a health incident. Police alerted the community to avoid the area at around 9 a.m. on Feb. 9 after the man’s body was discovered. At the time, they could only say that he had suffered injuries in an apparent fall, but not what happened before the fall. An autopsy conducted Monday showed signs that the man suffered a “medically-related event” before the fall, police said. The victim’s name and address have not been released, but he was described as a middle-aged white male. He is not believed to be a member of the homeless community, and the death did not appear to involve drugs, as some have speculated.
? Today’s events
Highlights of what’s happening today in Palm Springs. Find complete listings on our community calendar.
- Palm Springs police continue their series of community meetings. Today’s meeting is at 4 p.m. at the Convention Center. Details are here.
- PALS (Planning Ahead for LGBTQ Seniors) holds an informal “cafe” drop-in discussion via Zoom at 4 p.m. Details are here.
- The Airport Commission meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. Details on that meeting are here.
- The Palm Springs American Legion is hosting its monthly bike night, starting at 6 p.m. Come check out the rides of the Legion Riders, or show off yours. Details are here.
- Martinis and Moxie is on tap at 6 p.m. at the Cultural Center, featuring a variety hour in the style of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. Find ticket information here.
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are going on a hike at 8 a.m. and then having happy hour at Dringk in Rancho Mirage at 5:30 p.m.
? What to watch for
- The United States Army Field Band will perform Thursday evening at the Convention Center, starting at 7 p.m. Details on this free concert are available here.
- Modernism Week kicks off its 11-day run on Thursday. Find complete details here.
- Desert Ensemble Theatre continues its season at the Cultural Center with the California premiere of Salty, starting Friday.
- The Desert Art Center launches its Mid-Mod Show with a Tiki -Taki Luau Reception from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday.
- The annual Caravan through African-American history takes place on Feb. 21. Complete details on this always popular free event can be found here.
- Palm Canyon Theatre has scheduled its next performance – Palm Springs Getaway – for three weekends starting on Feb. 25.
- Heart-to-Heart Palm Springs is selling tickets for its March 12 Military Women Appreciation Luncheon. Details are here.