Coronavirus

Fresno County Jail (file photo)

So far, only one inmate at the Fresno County jail has a confirmed case of the coronavirus. And as the pandemic continues, law enforcement are taking precautions to try and keep the case numbers low.

Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says the inmate wasn’t symptomatic when he was booked Friday, but told a probation officer that he had tested positive a week earlier. 

Fresno State history professor Ethan Kytle has been reviewing news reports about a pandemic, but not this one. He’s been reading the Fresno Morning Republican. That’s the newspaper that covered the Spanish Flu in 1918.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR’s Latino USA, talks about her upcoming memoir, and what it’s like to launch and run a non-profit media group. 

Plus, we hear from Fresno State history professor Ethan Kytle who’s been tracking coverage of a different pandemic: the 1918 Spanish Flu. How did Fresno respond back then? The answer might surprise you.  

We also hear from California’s Lt. Governor as she updates us on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Office of the Lieutenant Governor

With recent data indicating that the COVID-19 curve is flattening in some parts of California, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke to the state's Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis about the planning process to reopen the economy and efforts to increase testing capacity.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno County Public Health lab was damaged in a flood back in 2019, so the county was sending its potential COVID-19 specimen to Tulare County’s Public Health Lab for analysis. But a partnership with Fresno State now means Fresno County will be able to process tests locally. 

 

Standing outside of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center, Fresno State President Joseph Castro announced that the center will become a testing facility for COVID-19. 

 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Today marks the 90th birthday of labor organizer and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. We talk to her about her legacy of activism, and why our collective response to the coronavirus pandemic should be a united one.

Plus, we hear from journalist and author Mark Arax, who invites us to revisit the work of William Saroyan. 

We also learn why a Shark Tank entrepreneur who runs a pet product company in Chicago is now supplying medical masks to hospitals in the Valley.

Community Regional Medical Center

Governor Gavin Newsom announced a program today to provide health care workers with low-cost hotel rooms. But ahead of the announcement, some valley hospitals were already working to provide employee housing. 

City of Bakersfield Recreation & Parks Facebook

Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties have closed their parks to keep people home during the coronavirus pandemic. But Kern County parks are still technically open and with Easter coming up, some residents are worried.

ABC Television and Sony Pictures

Even before the coronavirus, Tiffani Quinto had some experience with pandemics.

“You know I lived through H1N1,” she said. “I was a buyer at the time at Valley Children’s. And it’s similar to that.”  

Now she’s the supply chain management contract coordinator for Community Medical Centers in Fresno. She says medical supply distributors operate on an allocation system based on a hospital’s previous purchase history.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Constructing the high-speed rail can’t be done from home, so to protect employees from COVID-19, workers are operating differently. 

Diana Gomez is the Central Valley Regional Director with the High-Speed Rail Authority. 

“They used to have big group safety meetings every morning,” Gomez said. “Instead of having the big group safety meetings they have smaller ones.”

There’s also a lot of hand washing and social distancing on the construction sites. Gomez said people don’t sit together during lunch like they normally would.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood announced on Tuesday a dozen cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates in the county jail. That’s why the county is now releasing some inmates without bail. 

 

Sheriff Youngblood announced on Facebook the judicial council is requiring the release of some inmates with low level misdemeanors and felonies, with no bail.  

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

What do you do if your printing business is suffering because of COVID-19? Well for one Fresno business, employees are going with the times.

Dumont Printing is still dealing in its usual trade: signage. But instead of company mailers and event announcements, it's making "Keep Distance" decals.

“Immediately we started selling social distancing floor graphics to try and help the small business who is still open and has blue tape on their floor,” said Susan Moore, Dumont’s president and owner. 

Screenshot OnwardCa.org

Bitwise Industries got a shout-out from Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday as he announced relief for small businesses. The Fresno-based tech company is creating a resource for those laid off due to the pandemic: OnwardCa.org

Fresno Convention Center

The Fresno Convention Center is the new site for an emergency field hospital, the county announced Friday. The effort is to take pressure off of local hospitals by treating COVID-19 patients whose cases are less severe. 

“At the end of the day we need to make sure our hospitals are kept open for those who need critical care the most,” said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. 

The county’s original plan was to use the fairgrounds but the state rejected that site because it did not meet current building codes. 

Courtesy of Angela Christiano

We recently asked a few students for audio postcards about how the pandemic is affecting them. Today, we’re going to hear Selma High School senior Mia Salinas who says she’s missing out on prom, her final season of track, and the chance to say good bye to her teachers and friends.

We also hear from Fresno State student Julianna Mazziliano. She’s in her second semester as a liberal studies major and works two jobs, both of which have cut hours due to the pandemic. She says she “didn’t pay $7,000 a year at Fresno State to just sit at home.” 

Valley Public Radio is monitoring cases in seven counties in the San Joaquin Valley and foothills. Check back each afternoon for updates to this snapshot, and scroll down further for more detailed information.

 

 

What’s it like to be on the frontlines of medicine during a pandemic? FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel got a firsthand account from Dr. Patil Armenian. She’s an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno and she works at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Lawyers are pushing to get their at-risk clients out of detention centers before they get sick with COVID-19. We hear about one woman’s unexpected journey.  

We also talk to educators about the challenges of distance education especially among the Valley’s most vulnerable students. And we hear from a few students about how school from home is going for them.

Later, we talk to an emergency room doctor about what it’s like to be on the frontlines. 

Fresno State

Nearly two weeks after the coronavirus forced Fresno State to transition to virtual instruction, FM 89's Kathleen Schock spoke to Bryan Berrett, Fresno State's director of the Center for Faculty Excellence, about how students and faculty are adapting.  

  

On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom placed an executive order restricting water shutoffs retroactively from March 4th. That’s good news, community advocates say, but it doesn’t help those whose water was already shut off. 

Jonathan Nelson is the Policy Director for the Community Water Center. He says Newsom’s   order will help people who are worried about paying future bills. But what about those whose water has been shut off for over a month?

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