COVID-19

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.

Fresno State / Fresno State Official Facebook

David Celaya is one of about 30 staff members who learned last Thursday that his position was being eliminated due to budget cuts brought on by COVID-19. He’s worked for the university as a graphic designer for almost 5 years and he said he’s still in disbelief.  

“I’m kind of in denial a little bit and especially because I’m still working on projects,” Celaya said. “What I’m doing today on this random Tuesday is not any different than what I was doing a couple weeks ago.”

 

Terry Delamater

 

Depending on a county’s status in California’s reopening blueprint, most of the state’s gyms are allowed to operate either exclusively outdoors or indoors with tight restrictions on capacity. In Kern County, however, some gyms have been designated as essential, allowing them to circumvent those guidelines.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

With public schools still operating remotely, one subject particularly challenging to teach online is music. Despite the limitations, choir teachers in Fresno County are brainstorming new ways to instruct, even through a screen.

On one Thursday morning, halfway through the high school choir class that Jacob Bailey is teaching on Zoom, he leads the students through a warm up.

“Reach up nice and high to wake up that voice a little bit,” Bailey tells the students while stretching. “Wake up those ribs.”

 

 

This week on Valley Edition: More and more young candidates are running for office. We talk with three Valley youth vying for seats on local school boards.

 

Plus, teaching online is challenging enough. But getting kids to sing in a chorus over the internet? That’s really tricky. Choir teachers are coming up with new ways to make music.  

We also delve into more ballot propositions and update you on the pandemic. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

 

Families United to End Life Without Parole

On a bright afternoon in June, a group of protesters wearing masks gathered in a dusty parking lot outside a prison in rural Kings County. One of them held a megaphone up to a cell phone. “My name is Jacob Benitez, I’m an inmate calling from Facility F right here at Avenal State Prison,” crackled the voice on the other end of the call.

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