COVID-19

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is the best strategy to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd? We ask local organizers from Fresno and Bakersfield.

We also head to Woodlake where the couple who built a mile-long community botanical garden are now memorializing the lives lost in Tulare County to COVID-19. 

 

Plus, a local epidemiologist discusses the impact protesting may have on the spread of the coronavirus. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

City of Fresno Facebook

The Fresno City Council approved a resolution Thursday requiring anyone who enters City Hall to wear a mask. 

Teenagers are grappling with a lot these days, from having new caretaking roles to figuring out ways to fill the time. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel spoke with Deshae Lee and Faith Vega. Both are high school seniors in Fresno and interns at a youth organization called Californians for Justice. In the interview, Deshae starts by describing what it’s like to be at home all day with younger siblings. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do health care professionals cope with the death of one of their own to COVID-19? We talk to a Fresno nurse about treating and grieving a beloved colleague who died earlier this week. 

We also speak to two recently graduated teenagers. Since shelter-in-place, they’re taking on new roles: from watching younger siblings while their parents do essential work, to checking in on their elders. 

Plus, San Joaquin Valley authors share essays on living through a pandemic.  

Maurice O. Ndole

This week the staff at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center said goodbye to Sandra "Sandy" Oldfield, a registered nurse at the hospital who died of COVID-19 after treating an infected patient. On Wednesday evening, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil to honor her memory. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with ICU nurse Amy Arlund, one of the organizers of the observance.

UC Merced

The UC Board of Regents announced last week that Juan Sánchez Muñoz will become UC Merced's fourth chancellor. As a UC alum and first-generation student, he has a lot in common with the university's student body. He currently serves as president of the University of Houston-Downtown, and was still in Texas when Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with him about assuming leadership during a pandemic. 

Cornerstone Church Facebook

A downtown Fresno Church said Wednesday it intends to defy Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders to limit attendance to 100 people or 25 percent capacity, depending on which is smaller.

Pastor Jim Franklin said Cornerstone Church will accommodate up to 350 people this Sunday, which is a quarter of what the church can hold, but far more than what the state allows. Franklin said the governor’s rules unfairly limit churches.

The Avenal State Prison now has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases among the state’s correctional facilities. The prison reported 198 cases as of Tuesday.  

No visitors have been allowed at the prison for months, said Kings County Supervisor Doug Verboon. He said he thinks a staff member had the virus.

 

“Mother’s Day weekend, everybody went home to their mom’s house, had barbecues or whatever. Seven days later we got a spike in the prisons ‘cause someone brought it into the prison,” said Verboon.      

Lilian Marquez

Karla Lopez, 32, currently lives in Stockton with her friend Lilian Marquez. The two met at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield nine months ago and have been friends since then. But Lopez’ journey to get here started way back in November of 2018. 

That’s when a caravan of thousands of migrants made national news walking from Central America to the United States. Lopez decided to join the second wave of people heading to this country.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Tulare County has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in California due in part to outbreaks in nursing homes - and the county just voted to reopen businesses before meeting health benchmarks set by the state.  FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with Dr. Harjoth Malli, medical director of Critical Care at Kaweah Delta in Visalia about the patients he’s seeing, what it’s like to work in the ICU, and what advice he has for the public.    

 

New Wrinkles Website

 

 

Normally, a group of singing, dancing senior citizens would be taking the stage at Fresno City College starting this month. But the group dubbed “New Wrinkles” has postponed its 2020 season, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the group is staying connected and performing solo on Youtube, in a series called, “New Wrinkles Unplugged.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: What is it like to run a family farm during a pandemic? We talk to local growers about the challenges. 

And Tulare County voted to open up businesses this week despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the state. A Visalia intensive care unit doctor tells us the recipe for staying safe is pretty straightforward.

Plus: The cast of a long-running Fresno variety show that features senior citizens takes its talent to YouTube. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

 

African American Farmers of California

Small farms are at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s rich agricultural industry, but the challenges facing these operations are numerous. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock checked-in with three Fresno County farmers about the most recent obstacle they are facing: COVID-19. She spoke with grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza, Chue Lee of Lee's One Fortune Farm and Will Scott Jr. who in addition to running Scott Family Farms is also the president of the African American Farmers of California.

City of Fresno Facebook

With state approval, dine-in restaurants can now reopen in Fresno County, as long as measures like social distancing and employee face coverings are used. This comes just after the city of Fresno announced an end to its shelter-in-place order, starting Tuesday.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said the decision to end the order was not made half-heartedly.

Fresno County Department of Public Health Website

Fresno County’s Public Health Department announced a county-wide mask recommendation this week that takes effect Friday. Officials say it’s one more layer of protection as the county starts to reopen.

At a media update Wednesday afternoon, Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra compared wearing masks to using speed bumps, helmets, and seatbelts. 

Courtesy of Tali Whelan

Tali Whelan is a registered nurse. 

“I have worked the long 12-hour shifts in the past, and so I know how difficult it can be to be on your feet for so long and constantly on the go,” said Whelan. 

She normally works in a dermatology office, but right now, because it’s not busy, she’s on furlough. So she started a one-woman, local chapter of Front Line Appreciation Group, or FLAG.

Courtesy of Diana Vidales

Over the next month, many students will be graduating from college, but without the traditional pomp and circumstance or cap and gown. So we asked two students and their mothers about missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and what songs come to mind when they reflect on their journey.  

We spoke to Greyson Canterbury and his mom Kim Canterbury who live in Visalia. Greyson is a Fresno State Dean’s Medalist and is planning to go to Sri Lanka as a Peace Corps Volunteer, though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed those plans.  

Rey León's Facebook Page

The population of Huron, California, a rural town in southwest Fresno County, more than doubles during harvest season with an influx of migrant farm workers. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with the city’s mayor, Rey León, about how the coronavirus is affecting this population and what it's like to lead a community through a pandemic.

On this week’s Valley Edition: How are students in the San Joaquin Valley keeping up with their studies from home? We talk to education reporters about the challenge of distance learning and how access to technology deepens educational inequity.

Also, many college graduations are taking place this weekend and over the next month. What’s it like for students without the traditional pomp and circumstance?

Plus, we hear from a small town mayor about leading a mostly farm worker community through the pandemic.

UCSF Fresno

Near the beginning of the pandemic, we talked to an ER doctor who said the emergency room at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno felt like “the calm before the storm.” So, more than two months in, what’s it like now? FM89’s Alice Daniel spoke with Dr. Jim Comes, chair of the emergency department at Community Regional Medical Center and chief of emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno.

 

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