COVID-19

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

The day before Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. But with state guidelines encouraging people to stay home, many businesses fear they’ll just continue to lose money.

Javier Ruiz is a line cook at Little Hong Kong Chinese Cuisine on E street in Fresno’s Chinatown. The restaurant reopened with new owners in July, but according to Ruiz they’ve hardly had any customers.

The Fresno Center is getting ready for the holiday week ahead with a special turkey giveaway Monday. It’s the nonprofit’s latest effort to fight hunger during this pandemic.

What started as a monthly food distribution has now become a weekly event at the Fresno Center. It’s a lifeline for people like Wessly Sequeiros.

“These places that help us with the food help a lot since my wife is not working and I’m the only provider,” Sequeiros said.

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Not every small town in the Valley has a COVID-19 code enforcement officer, but Firebaugh does. His name is Sef Gonzalez and on this Tuesday, he’s dropping by restaurants downtown to remind them of the new rules issued by Governor Gavin Newsom.

At a Mexican restaurant, Don Pepe, Gonzalez tells the owner Juan Miguel indoor dining must stop by 3 p.m.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Ed Welker is relatively new to Avenal State Prison. He’s been incarcerated there only since March. But when he was recently moved to a new dorm in a different yard, he saw a familiar face. “One of the officers that are working right now in the building that I’m in, in the 2 yard, is the regular building officer over on the 5 yard, where I just came from,” he says.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

More than 3,300 inmates and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Avenal, which is the highest total of any prison in California and possibly in the entire country. So far, the virus has killed eight of the prison’s incarcerated men.

 

When the Fresno City Council first approved a Housing Retention Grant in May for $1.5 million, the response was overwhelming, said Council President Miguel Arias.

“Within a week of announcing the housing retention program, we had 14,000 residents inquire about completing an application,” he said. 

 

The grant helps struggling renters and homeowners affected by the pandemic pay for housing costs including rent or mortgages.

https://covid19.ca.gov

A rise in COVID-19 cases has prompted another round of business restrictions in most California counties, including those in the San Joaquin Valley.

 

Governor Gavin Newsom announced today that 29 counties would be rolling back into the purple, most restrictive tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, including Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Merced Counties, which had been in the red tier for weeks.

 

City of parlier

 

After many weeks of holding steady, COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise, not just in other parts of the country, but also statewide and here in the Valley. Daily new cases are at the highest they’ve been since early September, case rates and positivity rates are increasing, and all Valley counties—other than Madera and Tulare Counties, which are already in the “widespread” tier of the state’s reopening blueprint—are in danger of retreating back to more restrictive tiers.

On this week's Valley Edition: Now that California voters have said no to the idea of restoring affirmative action, we take a look at what this will mean for public higher education.

Plus, in honor of Veterans Day, we talk to Peggy and Edward Pastana about how their bond helped them overcome an accident that recently kept them apart.

And a documentary from a UC Merced professor explores the refugee experience through the eyes of children.

Courtesy of Fresno Veterans Home

Wednesday was Veterans Day. In honor of the holiday, FM89’s news director Alice Daniel spoke with a couple who live at the Fresno Veterans Home and have been married for 70 years. They’ve had their share of challenges during the pandemic, including living apart for three months. But as you’ll hear in this audio postcard, they’ve gotten by with love and a sense of humor. 

 

On this week's Valley Edition: We unpack what happened on Tuesday by looking at partisanship in the San Joaquin Valley and discussing how the election will shape California’s future. 

Plus, we take you to the small farming town of Mendota to find out how Latinx businesses there are doing during the pandemic. Some have only survived by taking out loans. 

 

And, two sisters in Fresno share stories about their peacemaking father for San Joaquin  StoryCorps. 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

The TV station Univision plays in the background at Las Morenitas, a small Salvadorian restaurant on Mendota's main street. Maria Morena has owned the place with her husband, Francisco, for 12 years. After frying pupusas for a few lunch customers, she takes a quick break to talk about the business. 

“We aren’t making any profits,” Morena says. “We’re just paying the bills and well, we have no employees except for the family that has stepped up to help us out.” 

 

Adventist Health

Nearly eight months in, the COVID-19 pandemic is still looking grim: Nationwide, the virus has killed more than 230,000 people, and this week, for the first time, more than 100,000 cases were reported in a single day. Twice.

Fresno Madera Continuum Of Care Facebook Page

Street2Home was announced in 2018 as an initiative by the city and county of Fresno to coordinate homelessness mitigation across organizations. But in a report released Monday, the Fresno County Grand Jury found it doesn’t have a staff, or board yet. 

Flickr user JKehoe_Photos (CC BY-ND 2.0)

It’s the end of October, which means we’re stuck with a pandemic holiday weekend. With health experts across the board discouraging trick-or-treating and gathering indoors, how can we celebrate safely?

 

Rest assured that there are ways to minimize the risks of celebrating Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. We offer some safety tips and creative alternatives to traditional festivities as part of this week’s COVID-19 update.

 

Ivy Cargile, Jesse Rojas, Dora Westerlund and Adriana Saldivar

With just days to go in this election season, one key group has been drawing a lot of attention - Latinx voters. And their impact on elections is particularly important here in California, given that they make up the state’s largest ethnic group.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Immigrant rights groups are concerned about a recent uptick in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They said they want transparency in terms of COVID-19 safety procedures. 

 

At least four people, one in Fresno and three in Taft, have been arrested and detained by ICE in the last week, said Lisa Knox, legal director for the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice.

 

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

 

Now that most counties in the San Joaquin Valley have graduated out of the most restrictive “purple” tier of the governor’s reopening blueprint, many schools are preparing to bring students back to campus, and some already have.

How are schools phasing in-person instruction back in, what’s the fate of extracurricular activities, and what precautions are schools taking to keep students safe? This week’s COVID-19 update breaks down what in-person learning could look like across the Valley.

The superintendent of Immanuel Schools said Wednesday he’s pleased to no longer be arguing the legality of keeping his K-12 private school in Reedley open. That’s due to a recent settlement among Immanuel, Fresno County, and the state attorney general’s office.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Community Chorus stopped singing in March just ahead of shelter-in-place orders and the county’s adoption of COVID-19 restrictions. Seven months later, the group reunited in person to sing, not in a concert hall but in a parking lot.

On Tuesday evening, dozens of cars drove into the Calvary Chapel parking lot in Central Fresno. They parked in neat rows close to the church buildings before a small stage and sound system. 

On this night, they’re singing via FM transmitter, like at a drive-in movie theater.

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