Kerry Klein

Reporter

Kerry Klein is a radio and print reporter who’s covered issues ranging from air and water quality to renewable energy and space exploration. After stints at KQED, the San Jose Mercury News, and NASA, she freelanced for outlets like The Atlantic, Science and Stanford Magazine. In 2015, she was awarded a grant from the Public Radio Exchange to report a national story on the health effects of noise pollution.

After growing up near Boston, Kerry graduated from McGill University with a B.S. in geology. When she began working as an exploration geologist and geothermal energy analyst, radio reporting was a distant and unlikely future. But she found meaning in media while hosting a talk show at a Montreal public radio station and later while producing a podcast for Science Magazine. She subsequently studied science journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is excited to be exploring community health and the rich diversity of the San Joaquin Valley here at KVPR.

When she’s not in front of a computer or microphone, Kerry can be found biking to the rock climbing gym, practicing her violin, or sewing a retro cocktail dress.

Ways to Connect

County of Kern Facebook page

 

Over the last few weeks, the local COVID-19 landscape has changed dramatically. In the San Joaquin Valley, average daily cases have dropped to a fraction of what they were in late July and early August, and hospitals are regaining the beds necessary for their normal, non-COVID volume of patients. Dozens of people are still dying of the virus each week, however, and health officials are on high alert for bumps in cases associated with Labor Day festivities.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Three hikers who were evacuated from the High Sierra by helicopter last week tell us what it was like to be stranded due to the Creek Fire. 

 

We also talk with wildfire experts about the importance of forest thinning and prescribed burning to prevent the massive outbreak of fires the West is now experiencing. 

 

Later, we’ll have our weekly COVID-19 update. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

People across the San Joaquin Valley have been rallying to assist evacuees from the Creek Fire. For one family, the gift of a tent led to a change in outlook.

When Matthew Warner and his family were evacuated from their home in Tollhouse last week, they weren’t planning on camping, but they have three farm dogs that make finding a hotel room difficult.

 

County of Kern Facebook page

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams visited Kern County on Monday for a roundtable with local industry leaders and business owners to discuss COVID-19. Amidst messages of hope and progress, Adams delivered a caution about reopening too early and doubled down on mask wearing.

 

During a press event after the roundtable, the Surgeon General shared his concerns about the public health and mental health concerns related to the virus and the vulnerability of communities of color to the disease, as well as the need to reopen the economy.

 

EPA AirNow

 

So far in 2020, thousands of wildfires have torched a record-setting 3.2 million acres in California. If that makes this wildfire season unprecedented, here and throughout the West Coast, so is our region’s resulting smog. In a press conference on Monday, Valley air officials said: Don’t expect the air to clear for at least a few more days, and possibly longer.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

So far, the Red Cross has provided hotel rooms for 2,300 evacuees from the Creek Fire and counting. But because of so much demand, people may need to be prepared to stay out of county—and that can prove difficult for those with medical conditions.

When the evacuation order came down on Wednesday, Robert Alessandro wasn’t at his home in Tollhouse. He was at a Clovis clinic hooked up to a dialysis machine. The 62-year-old with end-stage renal disease receives the treatment every other day. “I’m pretty out of it” after treatment, he said. “It takes a lot out of you.”

Courtesy of Lasallian District of San Francisco New Orleans

 

Sometimes, firefighters have to do things other than battling blazes, including delivering bad news. In one Fresno County mountain town, the fire chief is uniquely suited to doing just that.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Creek Fire has grown to nearly 144,000 acres and is still completely uncontained. Evacuation orders have been issued for areas around Tollhouse and Prather up through the High Sierra regions around Mono Hot Springs, and evacuation warnings stretch as far north as Wawona and as far south as areas near Pine Flat Lake.

Courtesy of Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff's Office / Fresno County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE 10:43 am 9/22/20

Containment of the Creek Fire is at 30% with 283,724 acres burned. The Creek Fire is now ranked as the sixth largest wildfire in California since records started being kept in the 1930s. At least 855 structures have been destroyed with thousands more threatened. 

 

Healthy Fresno County Facebook page

 

Over the last month, the spread of COVID-19 in the San Joaquin Valley has slowed. But not all measures of the disease have improved, and health officials say it’s no time for the community to let down its guard.

Fresno County’s Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra is concerned about the virus spreading during Labor Day weekend. In a media call on Tuesday, he said he knows it’s hard to hear, but non-essential gatherings should be cancelled.

 

Medical Board of California Facebook page

A San Joaquin Valley legislator is seeking answers from the Medical Board of California as to why the oversight agency allowed a Bakersfield doctor to remain in practice even though it determined he had been negligent with patients.

Monica Lam / KQED

More than 1,100 people at the Fresno County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The running tally of infections at the county-run complex actually surpasses those at all but two state prisons in California. But unlike the state’s careful tracking and reporting of cases at prisons and nursing homes, data on COVID-19 infections in county jails have not been consistently collected or made readily available to the public.

California Department of Public Health

California’s COVID-19 pandemic has evolved tremendously since it began in March, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that residents of skilled nursing facilities remain particularly at risk of severe infection and death. Although COVID-19 cases in skilled nursing facilities account for only 3 percent of the state’s overall caseload, almost 20 percent of the state’s deaths have occurred among these vulnerable residents.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

 

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