News

Courtesy of Tower Theatre and Visalia Fox Theatre

Performing arts venues have been dark since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March - including some of the Central Valley’s most historic theatres. But efforts are taking place to help these landmarks weather the storm.

To learn more, Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke with Laurance Abbate, CFO of The Tower Theatre in Fresno, and Vikky Escobedo, Executive Director of the Fox Theatre in Visalia.

CA Public Health Facebook page

During a livestreamed address earlier this week, California Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly dropped a bombshell: that the state infectious disease database known as CalREDIE, where labs report testing data and county public health departments extract local numbers, has been undercounting new cases.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 

Following a string of patient injuries and deaths, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bakersfield has been placed on probation.

Dr. Arthur Park has been treating women and delivering babies in Bakersfield since 1988. In that time, he’s also been the defendant in at least 10 lawsuits alleging negligence, medical malpractice, or wrongful death, and he’s been associated with the deaths of at least two mothers and five newborns.

 

 

The City of Fresno’s response rate to the 2020 census is lower than the state average of 63.5%. Right now, 62.3% of households have responded, but the rate falls below 50% in certain Fresno zip codes.

Courtesy of The Wonderful Company

The largest agricultural employer in the San Joaquin Valley announced today that it’s providing $1 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief in rural communities. 

Fruit and nut powerhouse The Wonderful Company says the form of that relief will be decided by community non-profits applying for grants. 

Alice Daniel / KVPR

 

 

Outside the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Fresno, volunteers unload boxes of ribbed sinqua from a farmer’s pickup truck.  

“All right they’re all good to go,” a young man says. “All of it?” another volunteer asks as he and others line up to carry the boxes of vegetables inside.

 

Premier Hospitalist of Bakersfield Facebook

Over the past few months, we’ve talked to a number of doctors and nurses about their experiences during the pandemic. Today we’ll hear from Dr. Amy Mehta. She’s a pulmonary critical care physician at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel spoke with her earlier this week.  

 

Fresno County Jail (file photo)

 

Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 response this week shifted to eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley, where he is now sending support teams and $52 million in aid to assist with testing, contact tracing and other containment measures.

 

This week on Valley Edition: We learn more about an organization in Fresno that’s buying crops from small farmers to help offset the huge losses growers are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Plus, a man currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison describes the toll that COVID-19 has taken on life behind bars, including months without seeing loved ones. 

 

And documentary filmmakers tell us what it’s like inside the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield.

 

Courtesy of Kei Jackson

The American Civil Liberties Unions of Northern and Southern California sent a letter to the Greenfield Union School District Superintendent this week after a former employee complained of a racially hostile work environment. 

Kei Jackson says before going to the ACLU, she filed multiple complaints with the district about what she calls microaggressions she experienced while teaching English to seventh graders at Ollivier Middle School. There was the time in February last year when she wore a dashiki to school. 

A second person detained at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield tested positive for COVID-19. This comes as other detainees at Mesa Verde are participating in a labor strike. 

 

Christian Orellana, 22, suffers from a liver disease. His attorney Ambar Tovar with the Removal Defense Project in Bakersfield said Orellana had a fever of 101 degrees on Wednesday and tested positive for COVID the same day.

 

Ezra David Ramero / KVPR

Farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley are more likely to get COVID-19 than in other service industries. They’re also facing job losses, according to a new study released Tuesday. 

 The COVID-19 Farmworkers Study surveyed 900 farmworkers about their work conditions, health care access, and pay during the pandemic. Nayamin Martinez, executive director for the Central California Environmental Justice Network, said 43% of the farmworkers surveyed reported not receiving face masks from their employers. 

As COVID-19 outbreaks in food production plants continue to make workers sick in the San Joaquin Valley, employees at one plant outside Bakersfield are calling on the State Attorney General to step in.

Primex Farms in Wasco employs around 400 people. As of last Wednesday, 150 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and over 70 had gone back to work, a company spokesman said. 

 

But Armando Elenes, secretary treasurer for the United Farm Workers, said workers did not find out about the outbreak through their employer.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For as long as we’ve had the ability to speak, humans have been telling stories. Today, story telling pervades all forms of media — books, music, film, advertising, video games and more. And yet, nothing is quite as engaging as a live human sharing their story. In December 2019, the Beale Memorial Library in Bakersfield, in association with Bakersfield Toastmasters Clubs and Valley Public Radio presented an evening of true stories, told before a live audience. And now you can hear it yourself, with this special broadcast of Storyteller's Showcase. 

StoryCorps

In February and March, the StoryCorps mobile 2020 tour was in Fresno and Bakersfield documenting the stories of San Joaquin Valley residents. As part of Valley Public Radio’s collaboration with the personal history project, we’ll be producing segments over the next year based on some of these recorded conversations. Today you’ll hear from two religious leaders in Fresno: Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel and Reza Nekumanesh, executive director of the Islamic Cultural Center.

Rebecca Sohn; CalMatters

One of the cornerstones of the COVID-19 response is contact tracing – when teams of people track down and get in touch with close contacts of those who have tested positive. In order to progress in reopening, Governor Gavin Newsom has required every county health department to take on 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.

Naveen Alasaad sits at her dining table in her Fresno home catching up on the day with three of her six children. Their conversations are often a mixture of Arabic and English and on this night, the topics range from online school to the pandemic. 

 

Saint Agnes Medical Center

This week, California hit a grim milestone: it now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any state in the country, a record perhaps inevitable given that it is also the country’s most populous state. Nonetheless, hospitalizations and ICU rates continue to rise statewide, and here in the San Joaquin Valley, as in the rest of the state, the disease has now infected more than 1 out of every 100 residents. 

The Darling Hotel and Katie Flinn

Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with the owners of two local businesses to find out how they are adapting their business models in light of COVID-19. She interviewed the owner of COIL Yoga, Katie Flinn, who switched her classes to online and permanently closed her Fresno studio in May. Shock also spoke with brothers Matt and Bob Ainley, co-owners of the Darling Hotel which opened in downtown Visalia on July 1.  

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