Coronavirus

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Unified Supt Bob Nelson announced Monday that while schools remain closed, meals will continue to be served. 

“The last thing that will go down at Fresno Unified is feeding kids every day,” said Nelson at a press conference.

Every school site offered meals Monday, but Nelson said the district is monitoring where families are picking up meals and will consolidate meal distribution sites, starting Wednesday. 

As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., we're hearing a lot about how social distancing, self-monitoring and even quarantine play into containment efforts.

But what do those terms mean, and when do they apply?

We asked experts and found out there is some overlap and lots of confusion.

Here's a quick guide for what you need to know.

Q: Why is all this happening?

Updated at 4:14 p.m. ET

President Trump announced new coronavirus guidelines for at least the next 15 days, including that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people.

In a briefing at the White House on Monday, he also urged people to avoid discretionary travel and going out to bars, restaurants and food courts. He recommended that schools close.

The stricter guidelines marked a shift for the president, who has repeatedly stated that the virus is under control.

"Whatever it takes, we're doing," Trump said.

Fresno County

Fresno County confirmed a second case of COVID-19 Saturday evening. Both cases identified so far have been travel-related. In a press conference Sunday, a county health official said the department is also monitoring up to 70 individuals, to track symptoms. While the risk of community transmission is still low, the best defense is to practice good hygiene: wash hands, avoid large crowds, and stay home if you’re sick. 

Fresno Unified School District

Three Valley districts have made the decision to close their schools starting Monday until April 13: Fresno, Clovis and Central Unified. They’re the latest across the state to announce a blanket closure of schools due to coronavirus concerns.  

In a press conference Friday, Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said preserving the health and well-being of students is the district’s priority.   

This week on Valley Edition: COVID-19 cases are on the rise in California, but what does that mean for the San Joaquin Valley? We learn how the disease is affecting our healthcare system, education and the economy and we get some advice on how not to panic. 

We also interview an author whose latest book was inspired by murders in the 1980s committed by the so-called “Lords of Bakersfield.”

And, we check in with StoryCorp San Joaquin. You’ll hear the first of many segments  coming straight from the Valley.

 

Alice Daniel

 

With the arrival of travel-related cases of COVID-19 to the San Joaquin Valley, FM89's Kathleen Schock looks into how the disease is affecting the local healthcare system, higher education and the economy. She speaks with Dr. Rais Vohra with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, Dr. Terrance McGovern with Madera Community Hospital, Charles Nies, vice chancellor of student affairs at UC Merced and Nyakundi Michieka, assistant professor of economics at CSU Bakersfield.

 

Jasmine Singh

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in California, mental health professionals say it is normal for people to be afraid and concerned about their well-being. But when does a health fear turn into debilitating anxiety? FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Dr. Jasmine Singh, resident in the UCSF Fresno Department of Psychiatry, about how to manage coronavirus panic.

As COVID-19 spreads, public health officials are telling people to stay home if they feel sick. But in jails and prisons, that's not an option.

Robert Greifinger is a physician who spent 25 years working on health care issues inside the nation's prisons and jails, and he says the "social distancing" advice we're all hearing right now isn't so simple behind bars.

"There are crowding issues, ventilation issues, security issues where people have to be checked and monitored fairly frequently," Greifinger says. "So it's really hard to do."

The Trump administration has announced a series of measures intended to speed testing for the coronavirus disease COVID-19: a new federal coordinator to oversee testing, funding for two companies developing rapid tests and a hotline for labs to call to get help finding needed supplies.

The U.S. government has been sharply criticized for its slow response to the virus, particularly when it comes to testing. Only this week has testing become more widely available in the U.S., and kits remain in limited supply.

Updated on March 16 at 1 p.m. ET to reflect new guidance on play dates during school closures. This is an evolving story and guidance from health authorities is evolving quickly.

Every day for the past week, colleges and universities around the country have made the announcement: in-person classes are cancelled due to fears over the spreading coronavirus.

Ohio State. Harvard. University of Virginia. University of Michigan. Duke. These are just some of the more than 100 universities across the country that are moving classes online.

Lecture halls will be empty. Labs closed. Concerts cancelled. Sports practices called off. Some universities are asking students to go home early for spring break, and if on break now, not to return to campus at all.

When I was a fourth-year medical student, I did a month-long rotation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. My first task was decidedly unglamorous: I sat in a cubicle and crunched data about fungal infections caused by contaminated contact lens solution.

So when my supervisor asked one afternoon if I wanted to help investigate a disease outbreak, I jumped at the chance. My task would be to track down people who had been in direct contact with mumps patients, work known as contact tracing..

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

The COVID-19 viral disease that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people is now officially a pandemic, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday.

"This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva.

It's the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 "swine flu" in 2009.

The spread of coronavirus has compelled hundreds of K-12 schools in the U.S. to close, affecting more than 850,000 students, according to an analysis by Education Week. And those numbers are certain to increase in the coming days, as concerned parents call for more school closures.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

The coronavirus outbreak has now infected more than 1,000 people in nearly 40 U.S. states — and the country's top authority on infectious diseases says things will only get worse.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that the number of cases of the COVID-19 viral disease will continue to grow because containment measures and contact tracing have failed to prevent community spread of the virus.

In the face of mixed messages and confusion about who can or should be tested for the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted updated guidance for doctors on Sunday about when to test a patient.

The short answer is, if your doctor thinks a test is appropriate, he or she can request the test. But a request doesn't guarantee that you'll get one.

Confused? You're not alone.

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET

Three security screeners at a Northern California airport have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Transportation Security Administration confirmed in an email late Tuesday.

The transportation security officers, all of whom work at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, are the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus within the agency, according to a union official with TSA Council 100.

The identities of the three screeners have not been released.

Kings County Public Health Department

Only two COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the San Joaquin Valley: one each in Madera and Fresno counties. Both are related to travel on Princess Cruises. To prevent further spread, public health departments are monitoring at-risk folks daily.  

Not every county publishes the number of monitored individuals, but from those that do in the San Joaquin Valley,  about 40 individuals have been or are being monitored. About ten of those individuals were cleared after not presenting symptoms following two weeks of isolation.

If you or someone in your household is sick with a fever and cough, you may be dealing with another symptom: the fear that you have coronavirus.

What are you supposed to do?

First of all, don't panic. Remember that it's still flu and cold season in the U.S., and seasonal allergies are starting up, too. Unless your symptoms are getting dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek medical treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask).

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