Organizers of Modernism Week, music festival have watchful eye on Omicron variant as events approach
The disappointing but understandable news that this month’s Palm Springs International Film Festival was canceled has those anticipating other significant events in the city nervously watching COVID-19 data and hoping for the best.
Representatives for both the Oasis Music Festival and Modernism Week said Monday their events are still on but they are prepared to change their plans based on guidelines implemented by various governmental bodies.
“At this point, we do not expect Modernism Week to change,” said Bob Bogard, director of public relations for O’Bayley Communications, which handles publicity for Modernism Week, “but we are monitoring the local, regional, and national situation very carefully.”
Modernism Week is currently scheduled for Feb. 17 through 27 and is expected to attract thousands of visitors to the city to attend 350 events. The Modernism Week Fall Preview, held Oct. 15 through 17, was “the biggest and best one yet,” according to Modernism Week Executive Director Lisa Vossler Smith.
While the city was still battling the Delta variant of the disease in October, evidence showed a summer surge in COVID cases in Palm Springs had crested. However, the Omicron variant that arrived last month does not appear to have peaked. Scientists say it is much more transmissible, but it is far less deadly for those who are fully vaccinated, including a recommended booster.
Data released Monday by Riverside County health officials shows reported COVID cases in Palm Springs doubled week-over-week, going from 70 to 158. The most recent reported sampling of city wastewater, taken Dec. 21, shows more than 5,200 people who were in the community may have had COVID, an increase of 4,400 from a sample taken Dec. 14.
There are signs of hope that the Omicron variant surge, while much larger than the Delta surge, will crest before the month is out. If it does, organizers of the Oasis Music Festival, scheduled for Jan. 26 through 30, may be breathing a sigh of relief bigger than anyone else in the city.
The music festival, a benefit for the restoration of the Plaza Theatre, is scheduled to take place at more than two dozen venues in the city and feature an eclectic lineup of artists, from indie folk acts to jazz musicians.
“Currently, everything is moving forward as scheduled, but we are closely monitoring the situation in Palm Springs,” said Jen Schuman, marketing manager for Palm Springs Life, which is presenting the festival along with Agua Caliente Casinos. “We are all hoping that this thing peaks and is done with before the event … but we are at the point that we are moving forward however Palm Springs allows us to.”
City officials have not called for the formal cancellation of any events to date. The city continues to implement the Coachella Valley’s strictest regulations, including proof of vaccination for indoor diners.
Some business owners and others have proactively changed their plans, choosing to wait out the spike in COVID cases even without a formal ask. The Purple Room Supper Club announced Sunday it would close for two weeks; AsiaSF/Palm Springs canceled a planned New Year’s Eve celebration; and Dezart Performs, a local theater company, delayed its season-opener and shortened its entire season.
TRIAL CONTINUES THIS WEEK: Prosecution testimony will continue Thursday in the trial of a Cathedral City man accused of gunning down four people in Palm Springs three years ago. Jose Larin-Garcia, 22, is charged with four counts of murder stemming from the February 2019 shootings in which the victims, ages 17 to 25, were found dead at two separate locations. He also faces a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, opening him to a possible death sentence if convicted. The jury trial began in Indio last month. READ THE COMPLETE STORY HERE.
WASTEWATER TESTING LAUDED: Palm Springs’ effort to measure the amount of COVID-19 in the community through samples of its wastewater has been singled out for its innovation. The Coachella Valley Branch of the American Public Works Association recently awarded the city a Project of Merit Award, while the APWA’s Southern California Branch recognized the program with its Project of the Year Award. Veolia North America operates and maintains the city’s wastewater facility. Through the program, which the Palm Springs City Council asked for at the start of the pandemic in 2020, Veolia contracts with GT Molecular, a biotechnology company, to conduct weekly tests at the plant, which are continuing. The testing involves collecting samples of wastewater at the plant and then analyzing them in a laboratory for traces of COVID-19.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, hosts Tai Chi, dance sessions, and more, starting at 8:30 AM. You can find a complete list of all today’s classes online here.
FINANCE: The City Council Finance Subcommittee, consisting of Mayor Lisa Middleton and Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, meets at 1 PM via Zoom for a quarterly review of the city’s investments. Information on how to view the meeting can be found here.
SITE PRESERVATION: The city’s Historic Site Preservation Board meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. Information on how to view the meeting can be found here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a happy hour at Wendy’s Hideout, 665 South Palm Canyon Dr., at 5:30 PM. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
TOASTMASTERS: Toastmasters, a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking and leadership, meets virtually every Tuesday in Palm Springs starting at 6 PM. Interested in participating? Send an email to [email protected] for more information and the Zoom link.
Curious about when various governmental agencies meet or if trash collection will be delayed? We’ve compiled the list below in an effort to help with the most common questions our neighbor have. Is something missing? Email [email protected]
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