Coronavirus

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.

City of Fresno Facebook

Nearly a hundred people made public comments Monday afternoon during the Fresno City Council’s budget hearing on the city’s police department. 

Most called for the council to defund the police and redirect the money to other services like mental health. Council President Miguel Arias said thousands more residents expressed their opinions via email. 

City of Fresno Facebook

The Fresno City Council announced Thursday it’s creating a police reform commission. Council President Miguel Arias said the commission will be headed by former council member and police officer Oliver Baines.  

The news came after the council sat through a workshop about social and economic justice led by the Fresno State NAACP. 

Govenor Gavin Newsom Facebook

Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but some have found assistance through a multi-million dollar state government program called Expanded Subsidized Employment, or ESE. However, Governor Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal cuts the funding to that program. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is the best strategy to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd? We ask local organizers from Fresno and Bakersfield.

We also head to Woodlake where the couple who built a mile-long community botanical garden are now memorializing the lives lost in Tulare County to COVID-19. 

 

Plus, a local epidemiologist discusses the impact protesting may have on the spread of the coronavirus. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

City of Fresno Facebook

The Fresno City Council approved a resolution Thursday requiring anyone who enters City Hall to wear a mask. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do health care professionals cope with the death of one of their own to COVID-19? We talk to a Fresno nurse about treating and grieving a beloved colleague who died earlier this week. 

We also speak to two recently graduated teenagers. Since shelter-in-place, they’re taking on new roles: from watching younger siblings while their parents do essential work, to checking in on their elders. 

Plus, San Joaquin Valley authors share essays on living through a pandemic.  

Maurice O. Ndole

This week the staff at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center said goodbye to Sandra "Sandy" Oldfield, a registered nurse at the hospital who died of COVID-19 after treating an infected patient. On Wednesday evening, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor her memory. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with ICU nurse Amy Arlund, one of the organizers of the observance.

Cornerstone Church Facebook

A downtown Fresno Church said Wednesday it intends to defy Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders to limit attendance to 100 people or 25 percent capacity, depending on which is smaller.

Pastor Jim Franklin said Cornerstone Church will accommodate up to 350 people this Sunday, which is a quarter of what the church can hold, but far more than what the state allows. Franklin said the governor’s rules unfairly limit churches.

New Wrinkles Website

 

 

Normally, a group of singing, dancing senior citizens would be taking the stage at Fresno City College starting this month. But the group dubbed “New Wrinkles” has postponed its 2020 season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the group is staying connected and performing solo on Youtube, in a series called, “New Wrinkles Unplugged.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is it like to run a family farm during a pandemic? We talk to local growers about the challenges. 

And Tulare County voted to open up businesses this week despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the state. A Visalia intensive care unit doctor tells us the recipe for staying safe is pretty straightforward.

Plus: The cast of a long-running Fresno variety show that features senior citizens takes its talent to YouTube. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

 

African American Farmers of California

Small farms are at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s rich agricultural industry, but the challenges facing these operations are numerous. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock checked-in with three Fresno County farmers about the most recent obstacle they are facing: COVID-19. She spoke with grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza, Chue Lee of Lee's One Fortune Farm and Will Scott Jr. who in addition to running Scott Family Farms is also the president of the African American Farmers of California.

City of Fresno Facebook

With state approval, dine-in restaurants can now reopen in Fresno County, as long as measures like social distancing and employee face coverings are used. This comes just after the city of Fresno announced an end to its shelter-in-place order, starting Tuesday.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said the decision to end the order was not made half-heartedly.

Fresno County Department of Public Health Website

Fresno County’s Public Health Department announced a county-wide mask recommendation this week that takes effect Friday. Officials say it’s one more layer of protection as the county starts to reopen.

At a media update Wednesday afternoon, Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra compared wearing masks to using speed bumps, helmets, and seatbelts. 

Courtesy of Tali Whelan

Tali Whelan is a registered nurse. 

“I have worked the long 12-hour shifts in the past, and so I know how difficult it can be to be on your feet for so long and constantly on the go,” said Whelan. 

She normally works in a dermatology office, but right now, because it’s not busy, she’s on furlough. So she started a one-woman, local chapter of Front Line Appreciation Group, or FLAG.

Courtesy of Diana Vidales

Over the next month, many students will be graduating from college, but without the traditional pomp and circumstance or cap and gown. So we asked two students and their mothers about missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and what songs come to mind when they reflect on their journey.  

We spoke to Greyson Canterbury and his mom Kim Canterbury who live in Visalia. Greyson is a Fresno State Dean’s Medalist and is planning to go to Sri Lanka as a Peace Corps Volunteer, though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed those plans.  

On this week’s Valley Edition: How are students in the San Joaquin Valley keeping up with their studies from home? We talk to education reporters about the challenge of distance learning and how access to technology deepens educational inequity.

Also, many college graduations are taking place this weekend and over the next month. What’s it like for students without the traditional pomp and circumstance?

Plus, we hear from a small town mayor about leading a mostly farm worker community through the pandemic.

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