COVID-19

Credit: The Big Fresno Fair

 

The Fresno Fairgrounds will soon be the site of a makeshift hospital set up to treat potential COVID-19 patients whose cases are less severe. The effort is to take pressure off of local hospitals. 

“We want to prepare for the potential of this virus just having a tremendous impact on our hospitals. So fairgrounds will become a location where we can accept patients that are not in need of critical care that maybe only hospitals can provide,” said County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: With COVID-19 cases growing at exponential rates, how are local governments, hospitals and nonprofits dealing with the pandemic? We find out how the virus is shaping preparedness plans in the short and long term.   

And we share personal accounts of how the coronavirus is impacting the lives of the Valley’s residents, and how they’re coping.  

Plus, a single mother of two who is living in a homeless shelter with her family gives us some words of hope.

 

Fresno County Jail (file photo)

It’s hard to practice social distancing when you’re in jail and the close quarters increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus. That’s why one Fresno attorney is trying to get his vulnerable client out.

Armando Toro, 62, has diabetes and high blood pressure. These pre-existing conditions put him at a higher risk of becoming severely ill if he’s infected. 

Advocates are pushing to expand a cash back tax credit program that would provide more money to people who may be employed, undocumented, and still living in poverty.

As people begin to feel the loss in income due to the coronavirus outbreak, advocates are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to use a portion of California's Emergency COVID-19 Funding to expand the tax credit program, CalEITC. 

CalEITC has expanded every year since 2015, but continues to exclude ITIN taxfilers or undocumented taxpayers. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

As COVID-19 case numbers rise, one Fresno-based company has pledged $100,000 to help with grocery shopping.

Volunteers from Bitwise Industries have made close to a hundred trips in Fresno, Madera and Tulare Counties delivering groceries and medications to elderly and immune-compromised people. Vice President Terry Solis said it’s part of the company’s new “Take Care” initiative.

 

Solis said she’s taking the necessary hand-washing and social distancing precautions.

The Fresno Unified School District and all Fresno County Public Library branches are temporarily closed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But despite those closures, one Fresno librarian is still bringing story time to her students, via the web.

On this week's Valley Edition: With children home from school and concern about COVID-19 on the rise, how do parents protect the mental health of their kids? We talk to pediatric psychologist Dr. Amanda Suplee for some guidance.

We also speak with Fresno County Director of Behavioral Health Dawan Utecht, UCSF Fresno emergency room physician Dr. Manavjeet Sidhu, and University of California, Merced economist and professor Ketki Sheth to answer some of the mental health, physical health and economic questions sent in by listeners about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tower Yoga Website

As residents and business owners take on the city of Fresno’s “shelter in place” recommendation, which went into effect Thursday, many are turning to the web to keep their services going. 

The city released a list of “Essential” and “Non-Essential” businesses. Officials are advising residents to cease trips to non-essential businesses, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Grocery and hardware stores made the “Essential” list, but bars and hair salons did not. 

Madi Bolanos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As state and local officials advise older Americans to stay indoors and away from crowds amid coronavirus concerns, supermarkets are working to accommodate their needs. 

 

This week, Vallarta, an American supermarket chain that caters to Latino customers,

Valley Children's Hospital

 

With children home from school and concern about COVID-19 on the rise, how do parents protect the mental health of their children?

According to Valley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Amanda Suplee, honest communication, using age-appropriate language and building a strong routine in the home are some ways to support the emotional life of children during these uncertain times.

Madi Bolanos

The city of Fresno issued a voluntary shelter in place order Wednesday to go into effect Thursday at midnight. Residents are being asked to leave their homes for essential services only.  

Fresno County Public Library Facebook

Many public and private establishments across the San Joaquin Valley are closing temporarily in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This comes after increasing recommendations from federal, state and local officials to maintain social distancing.

Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties have closed all of their library branches. Fresno’s libraries will be closed until April 14; Kern County libraries will be closed until April 13; and Tulare County libraries will be closed until the end of March. However, patrons can continue to use online library resources. 

Ezra David Romero / KVPR

The spread of COVID-19 is forcing many people to work from home, but for farmworkers that’s not an option.  

Take Eucebia and Alejandro; the couple asked to go by their first names only. They have three kids and no savings. In the past two weeks, they’ve been asked to leave two picking jobs, first in almonds, then in grapes. The second job at Fowler Packing only lasted two days before the contractor told them to leave.

“She said that there wasn't going to be any work, that everything had been canceled,” Eucebia said. 

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. 

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.

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.

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