COVID-19

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

 

It’s a Tuesday afternoon in downtown Fresno, and a line of cars has wrapped around the block from the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission to Chukchansi Stadium. A petite karaoke singer belts out George Harrison on the sidewalk, while the drivers, masked and corralled into reserved parking spots, wait for Testing Tuesday to begin.

Community Medical Centers

The first batches of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the Valley this week, and for many of us, the milestone represents a light at the end of a very long and traumatic tunnel. Healthcare workers with high patient exposure will be the first to receive this initial delivery of 17,000 doses, and the Valley is slated to receive tens of thousands more by the end of December.

Vietnam War veteran, Chongge Vang, 80, has been confined to his Sanger home during the pandemic, keeping busy with chores on his two-and-a-half acre property.

“I have nothing to do, so I have to walk around and then clean up, water all the trees, all the fruit, you know. That’s what I do,” he says. 

Kaiser Fresno Medical Center/AFL-CIO Websites

Amy Arlund, a registered nurse who works in the ICU at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center, spoke with Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock in May about the loss of one of her colleagues to COVID-19. With ICU capacities in the Valley now at the breaking point, Schock checked back in with Arlund to see how she is holding up.

@careforkids on Twitter

As the first 327,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine begin arriving in California, most San Joaquin Valley hospitals expect their initial shipments within the next few days.

@oaklandabosol on Twitter

As COVID-19 infections continue to rise throughout the San Joaquin Valley, they’re also ravaging the Valley’s prisons. That’s why two advocacy groups have planned protests this weekend outside prisons in Kings, Fresno and Kern Counties.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

Five days into a regional stay-at-home order, COVID-19 infections in the San Joaquin Valley are soaring and hospitals are scrambling to make space on floors already crowded with flu patients. On Thursday of this week, the California Department of Public Health estimated that intensive care units in the San Joaquin Valley reported fewer than 2 percent of their beds were available, all while more people are dying of the virus than they have in months.

Daren Miller

In early October, complications from diabetes forced Bessie Miller into the operating room. The former state employee and well-known advocate for West Fresno had needed round-the-clock oxygen for years, and because of poor blood circulation, calf injuries that wouldn't heal eventually left her legs in need of amputation.

On this week's Valley Edition: We look at what will happen to the Fresno nonprofits providing COVID assistance to the community if CARES Act funding disappears at the end of the year.

Plus, a new UC Merced photo exhibition documents the lives and struggles of Central Valley farmworkers in the 1960s. 

And StoryCorps San Joaquin is back with a look at how Fresno’s CMAC got started.

The Fresno Center Instagram

The clock is ticking for CARES Act grants, which are set to run out at the end of the month. In Fresno, these funds helped to finance the COVID-19 Equity Project, a network of community based organizations providing COVID assistance to vulnerable communities.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

As COVID-19 caseloads climb throughout the state and country, many counties in our region, including Tulare and Fresno, are now reporting record-high numbers of patients with COVID-19 in area hospitals.

Fresno County Sheriff's Office Zoom call

In a press call on Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that regional stay-at-home orders are imminent. He explained that these orders would be triggered locally when intensive care units in a particular region’s hospitals become so crammed that they’re more than 85 percent full. The nine counties of the San Joaquin Valley make up one of the state’s five designated regions.

On this week's Valley Edition: We take a look at the COVID-19 Equity Project aimed at preventing the spread of the virus in some of Fresno’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Plus, he lost his quesadilla stand to the pandemic. Now this LA cook is using his skills to feed communities including farm workers near Selma.

And we look at strategies to find permanent homes for people experiencing homelessness.

Matt Levin, Anna Laven and Sonia De La Rosa

California Governor Gavin Newsom has a plan to use $750 million dollars of federal coronavirus relief funds to purchase motels and other properties that will be converted into housing for those experiencing homelessness. But, there’s a catch. If the properties are not purchased by the end of the year, the money goes back to the federal government.

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.

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