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Valley’s First Farmworkers Get Vaccinated – COVID-19 Update For Jan. 29

In a surprise move this week, Governor Gavin Newsom lifted shelter-in-place orders for our part of the state, even as San Joaquin Valley residents continue to die of COVID-19 by the hundreds each week. The decision came as a surprise to health officials in at least Fresno County, who said they appreciate that case numbers are finally trending in the right direction but warned against reckless behavior that could drive them back up again.

In another milestone this week, Fresno County began vaccinating the Valley’s first farm workers against the virus, through a program that aims to inoculate 3,000 of the laborers in the next few weeks. Though many are wary of the vaccine, many jumped at the opportunity, and the UFW is encouraging of the county’s model.

In this week’s COVID-19 update, we learn how farm workers feel about the opportunity to be vaccinated, featuring excerpts from discussions with Mendota farm worker Melesio Medina, United Farm Workers spokesperson Leydy Rangel, and Fresno County vaccination supervisor Joe Prado.

Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):

As of Jan. 28:

  • 3,017 total deaths out of 284,224 total cases
  • 1,192 people hospitalized and 258 in ICUs
  • 250 deaths reported in the last week*
  • 1,642 average cases reported daily in last week
  • *this includes a backlog from December in Kings County that was only added to data dashboard this week

As of 1 week previous, Jan. 21:

  • 2,767 total deaths out of 272,727 total cases
  • 1,371 people hospitalized and 258 in ICUs
  • 284 deaths reported in the last week*
  • 2,434 average cases reported daily in last week
  • *this includes a backlog from December in Kings County that was only added to data dashboard this week

As of 4 weeks previous, Dec. 31:

  • 2,055 total deaths out of 214,113 total cases
  • 1,456 people hospitalized and 289 in ICUs
  • 89 deaths reported in the last week
  • 2,603 average cases reported daily in last week

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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