News

Fresno American Indian Health Project

While reports show that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color, gaps in data have made it difficult to quantify the impact of the virus on indigenous populations. To get a better sense of how Native Americans in the Valley are faring during the pandemic, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Selina De La Peña, CEO of the Fresno American Indian Health Project.

Almost half the people tested for COVID-19 last Wednesday at Mesa Verde had positive results. 

Thirty two out of 70 people tested positive. Asif Qazi, who’s been detained at Mesa Verde since February, says he’s not surprised.

“It’s not possible to social distance in a place where you have to use the same sinks, toilets and showers as other people,” Qazi said. “When you line up it’s not like your lining up six feet apart. It’s shoulder to shoulder.”  

Join Valley Public Radio this August for special coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions from NPR. While the conventions will be held in a "virtual" format due to COVID-19, NPR will provide coverage of both parties as they nominate their presidential candidates for the November 2020 election. Coverage of the DNC will take place Monday August 17th - Thursday August 20th, from 6:00 PM - approx 8:30 PM. Coverage of the RNC will take place Monday August 24th - Thursday August 27th, from 6:00 PM - approx 8:30 PM.

Close to 300 people working in the medical field have signed a letter in solidarity with the Black Lives Movement in the San Joaquin Valley.

Dr. Susan Logan is a hepatobilitary surgeon in Fresno. She says making the letter public is meant to serve as a way to build trust with the Black community in the Valley.

Rachael Goldring Bell

A global pandemic like COVID-19 can be risky for anyone, but the risk level is on a totally different scale for Rachael Goldring Bell of Clovis. Born with congenital heart disease, she was later diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and an immune disorder, all of which increase her risk of a severe bout of COVID-19.

Ever since a trip to Southern California in early March, the 27-year-old psychology student hasn’t left her house for fear of contracting the virus. Here's an audio postcard of her experience sheltering in place with her husband, her parents, two cats and two dogs.

Screenshot via Zoom

It’s hard enough for seasoned teachers to transition from in-person classes to online learning. But what about teachers who are just starting out? 

Oscar Andrade falls under that category. The second year educator left his classroom at Centennial Elementary School in March, and was allowed to return in early August to get ready for the year.

 

Fresno County COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

After announcing that a data snafu had resulted in an undercount of thousands of new COVID-19 cases, state health officials said this week the problem’s been resolved—at least at the state level. County health departments are left to clean up the data that feeds into their own county dashboards.

Anjeli Macaranas

Violinist Anjeli Macaranas recently graduated from University High School in Fresno and will be attending Harvard this fall, from home. She performed this spring on Valley Public Radio’s Young Artists Spotlight and as a guest on the Play On series early this summer. Valley Public Radio’s David Aus recently caught up with her to learn more about her Little Virtuosos Project and the interconnection between music and mental health.

On this week’s Valley Edition: One Clovis woman hasn’t left her house since visiting Southern California in March. We hear how she’s been sheltering in place with three disorders that put her at risk of severe COVID-19.

And distance learning is a new experience even for seasoned public school teachers. But what about educators who have just started their careers? What’s it like for them? 

And later, we speak to a Guardian reporter who is investigating how agricultural workers have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

Vivian Ho and Monica Velez

This week, The Guardian published the first in a series of reports on why COVID-19 cases have surged in the Central Valley. Valley Public Radio Host Kathleen Schock spoke with reporter Vivian Ho about her investigation into how the virus spread among agricultural workers. Also joining the conversation is UC Merced Associate Professor of Sociology Edward Flores, who recently co-published a study on the connection between low-wage employment and the coronavirus.

Marion County Sheriff's Office in Florida, via FOIA

A year ago, Tulare County native Jose Manuel Martinez was facing 10 life terms in prison before a trial in Florida that could have resulted in the death penalty. But after testimony from his family, painting Martinez as nothing but a loving father, uncle, and brother, he was spared, and given another life sentence. 

 

Some essential workers in Fresno can now get childcare vouchers through the city in collaboration with the Central Valley Children’s Service Network. 

The program will support about 190 kids. It is funded by the CARES Act and provides temporary vouchers for essential workers through Dec 31. Ofelia Gonzalez, director of community education at the Central Valley Children’s Service Network, said families will be chosen based on an essential workers priority list. 

 

California Health Sciences University

 

The San Joaquin Valley’s first four-year medical school has finally opened in Fresno County. And, despite virtual learning at many universities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, classes are being held in person.

At least 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield as of Monday, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Advocates say the people detained are not getting proper medical attention.

Christian Orellana, 22, contracted the virus in late July. On Saturday, he fainted at Mesa Verde. His lawyer, Ambar Tovar with the Defense Project in Bakersfield, said officials sent him to his bed even though she asked that a doctor examine him. 

Fresno Unified School District Livestream

The Fresno Unified School District announced its finalized plans Monday for distance learning.

In a virtual press conference, School Board President Keshia Thomas made one thing clear:

“The distance learning families experienced this past spring will not be what families experience this new school year.”

Fresno County Sheriff's Office

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it has arrested 34 potential sexual predators. The arrests were part of a multi-agency undercover operation.

The Sheriff’s Office worked with Homeland Security Investigations, the US District Attorney’s Office, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and other agencies to make the arrests in what they called “Operation COVID Chat Down.”

KPCC's LAist Studios

In the southeast corner of Kern County is the Mojave Desert. In that dry landscape there’s a city that looks half built.

There are roads and some houses, but it seems unfinished. That city’s past and present are investigated in a new podcast from KPCC’s LAist Studios, called California City. 

Farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley are facing higher risks of contracting COVID-19 compared to non-agricultural industries, according to a new farmworkers study. That’s on top of dealing with extreme heat and pesticide exposure. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We’ll hear firsthand accounts of how COVID-19 has impacted conditions for those working in the fields.

We also talk to a reporter who spent three weeks in Kern County’s corner of the Mojave Desert. Her new podcast investigates false promises of wealth in California City. 

And, we discuss what will happen to Valley renters out of work because of COVID-19 and potentially facing homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

Patience Milrod and Amber Crowell

California Gov. Gavin Newsom suspended most evictions in April. But now state lawmakers are debating whether to lift the moratorium, leaving renters who have lost their jobs to the pandemic facing an uncertain future.

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