Coronavirus

Andrew Nixon - file photo / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in the San Joaquin Valley have been on the state’s COVID-19 watch list for months, and are still restricted under the state’s new rating system.

Fresno County officials announced the results from January’s homeless point-in-time count Wednesday, including a significant rise in unhoused individuals. 

This year’s annual point-in-time count found 3,251 people experiencing homelessness throughout Fresno County. That’s about a 50 percent increase from 2019, when the number of people counted was 2,131. However, more people than usual were counted in shelters.

Facebook Screenshot, Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau

Fresno County has filed an injunction against the Reedley-based private, Christian schools that began in-person classes earlier this month, despite prohibitive state guidelines. 

Supervisor Steve Brandau held a press conference Monday afternoon to oppose the lawsuit against Immanuel Schools, which serve kindergarten through twelfth grade students.

“It isn’t because Immanuel is a private school, a Christian school or anything of the sort. I feel the same way about any school, private or public,” said Brandau.

On this week’s Valley Edition: A well known Hmong filmmaker who documented the lives of Hmong communities all over Asia died of COVID-19 in July. With his funeral this week in Fresno, his family recalls his legacy. 

Plus, a century after white women gained the right to vote, we explore the history of the 19th Amendment, and how it changed the U.S. forever. 

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. 

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.”

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. 

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. 

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.  

 

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.

 

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.  

Kelly Bearden and Rich Mostert

As businesses throughout the Valley struggle due to COVID-19, many small businesses and entrepreneurs are turning to their local Small Business Development Centers, or SBDCs, for help accessing capital and reimagining their business models. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Rich Mostert, director of the Valley Community SBDC and Kelly Bearden, director of the CSU Bakersfield SBDC, about how small businesses in the Valley are meeting this moment.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

 

People experiencing homelessness often rely on the hospital emergency room for medical care. In Porterville, Vera Miles has done it multiple times. She’s lived under the trees along the Tule River in Porterville for five years. The 60-year old shares the space with her partner. She says she isn’t worried about getting the coronavirus.

 

“I think we're safer down here than anywhere actually,” says Miles. “With this going on, I'd rather be here.”

Arynne Gilbert, Kelly Rauch, Kristie Leyba and Peggy Munoz

 

K-12 districts throughout the Valley have been grappling with how to educate students in the fall without contributing to the spread of COVID-19. To learn more about how Fresno Unified School District teachers are reacting, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with elementary music teacher Peggy Munoz, Roosevelt High School applied medical science teacher Kelly Rauch and English teachers Kristie Leyba from Edison High School and Arynne Gilbert from Sunnyside High School.

 

Whitney Pirtle, Tania Pacheco-Werner and Chet Hewitt

Earlier this week, the New York Times published an analysis of national data that found that Black and Latinx Americans are three times as likely to catch COVID-19 compared to whites. To discuss the implications of those findings, and what it means for the battle against the virus here in the San Joaquin Valley, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Whitney Pirtle, assistant professor of sociology at UC Merced, Dr.

On this week’s Valley Edition: We take you inside a church in Fresno where the priest is considered a healer by some and by others, a sexual predator. 

We talk to the KQED journalist who reported the story about how she gained the trust of the alleged victims, and the reaction from the congregation now that the report is out. 

Plus, an update on why bars and indoor dining are on hold in many counties. Listen to those stories and more in the podcast above. 

City of Fresno Facebook

The Fresno City Council voted Tuesday to approve its billion dollar budget, just in time for the July 1 deadline. However, it will have to be reconsidered in three months. 

Courtesy of Patrick Contreras

This week we spoke to a musician who, like others, lost a lot of work when the pandemic hit: Performances were postponed, or cancelled altogether. Patrick Contreras, a Fresno violinist, started to offer front lawn concerts to make ends meet, and the idea has taken off. He says he’s heard from other musicians across the country, asking how he’s made it work. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Fresno County’s Registrar of Voters settled a lawsuit this week that will allow a church with Black Lives Matter banners to  host a ballot drop-box.

Fresno Unified School District Facebook

The Fresno Unified School District announced Thursday that on-campus instruction will resume August 17. 

Superintendent Bob Nelson said based on parent survey results, the district expects 75 percent of kids to return to school in the fall. However, school will be a little different.

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