Streets crowded with visitors, outdoor dining facilities with waiting lists, and hotels full of guests may raise eyebrows on weekends as the battle against COVID-19 continues, but data show Palm Springs is headed in the right direction against the disease.
Active COVID-19 cases in Palm Springs have dropped from an estimated 5,000 in late December to an estimated 83, based on testing of city wastewater, Councilmember Geoff Kors reported Monday. That’s the lowest since wastewater testing began in Summer 2020.
“Thank you to our residents, businesses, and workers for keeping yourselves and each other safe,” Kors wrote in a Facebook post. “Please continue to wear masks when around non-household members and follow public health orders so we can continue to keep the numbers low, save lives, and allow our businesses to continue to remain open.”
The trend in Palm Springs mirrors that of the country. Nationwide, daily new cases have fallen to levels not seen since September of last year, while reported deaths fell below 1,000 on Monday for the first time since mid-November.
As schools, businesses, sports teams and entertainment venues begin to plan for opening wider, and ICUs begin to have more free beds, more Americans are being vaccinated than anywhere else in the world. In Riverside County, nearly 600,000 people had been vaccinated as of Monday and 64 COVID-19 patients were in the ICU— down from a high of 1,675 patients in ICUs in January.
Although Riverside County currently remains in the “widespread” (purple) risk level, bringing the most state-mandated restrictions, the situation in Palm Springs is less severe. County health staff recently reported the city positivity rate (the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19) falls in the “substantial” (red) risk level, one level below the county in the state’s color-coded tracking system. To date, 3,611 cases have been reported in Palm Springs since the pandemic began, along with 112 deaths. A majority of the cases and deaths in the city have occurred in the population 65 and older.
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DINE AND DASH ARREST: A man suspected of defrauding multiple downtown restaurants in recent weeks was arrested by Palm Springs Police officers at 6 PM Monday evening after attempting to leave without paying at a restaurant on East Tahquitz Canyon Way. The 30-year-old suspect was booked into jail in Indio on charges of defrauding an innkeeper, a misdemeanor, and faces a court hearing April 27. Several restaurant owners and staff had reported the suspect dining at their establishments, claiming to be without payment, vowing to go back to a hotel to retrieve it, then not returning.
FIRE DEPT. PROMOTIONS: The Palm Springs Fire Department officially bestowed new badges on all its members receiving promotions in 2020 on Monday. Battalion Chief Jeff VanLierop, captains Jeff Kelsheimer, Franco Pineda, Shawn Arden, and McClain Berg, and engineers Josh Alvarez and Cody Ayotte were all honored by Chiefs Nalder and Loya and their families during the ceremony.
RENT ASSISTANCE: Applications for the next round of United Lift rental assistance were opened Monday. The program will continue until funds are depleted, or until Dec. 31, whichever happens first. The program is one of the largest per capita allocations of direct rental assistance in the country and one of a handful to operate on a countywide basis. More information on eligibility guidelines and the application portal can be found here.
DANCE FESTIVAL: The Palm Springs International Dance Festival begins Thursday with a three-course meal at 5:30 PM at Palm Springs Dance Academy, 611 South Palm Canyon Dr. (inside Sun Center). Following the meal by Bouschet, a nearby tasting room and marketplace, will be a VIP photography exhibit and live entertainment with vocalist Leanna Rodgers. Tickets for “Bouschet & Ballet” are $99 and may be purchased here.
IMPROV GROUP FORMING: Actor, writer, producer Sean Dillingham has another title to his lengthy resume of interest to locals— instructor. Dillingham is in the early stages of forming an improv group in Palm Springs, he announced Monday. Dillingham plans to offer classes, shows, workshops and more and encourages anyone interested to join a Facebook group created specifically for the improv group.
- YOUTH CRAFTS: Palm Springs Public Library children’s librarian Nancy Valdivia demonstrates how to paint a ceramic teacup planter today at 10 AM on YouTube and Facebook.
- NOT TEEN TALK: Teen librarian Sean Corbin hosts “This is NOT Teen Talk” today at 4 PM on Instagram Live.
- ONE-PS: The monthly meeting of ONE-PS, a network of Palm Springs neighborhoods, starts at 5:30 PM. A link to the Zoom meeting is here and materials for this month’s meeting are here.
COVID VACCINES: If you qualify for a vaccine 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 can be reserved online at www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Find community providers such as pharmacies here.
TRAFFIC BOX ART: Neighbors in Desert Highlands Gateway Estates are being encouraged to vote on proposed designs for area traffic boxes to be painted under a city program titled “Stop in the Name of Love Traffic Box Project.” Two boxes in the neighborhood will be painted. To see the proposed designs, turn here. To vote on the designs, turn here. Voting ends March 14.
HELP FOR FOOD SAMARITANS
During this entire month, 20 percent of net USPS, UPS, and FedEx transactions at Postal Palm Springs will be donated to AAP – Food Samaritans. This is the first promotion of its kind to be arranged for the local nonprofit dedicated to providing nutritional support to improve the quality of the lives of low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.