COVID-19

On this week’s Valley Edition: A well known Hmong filmmaker who documented the lives of Hmong communities all over Asia died of COVID-19 in July. With his funeral this week in Fresno, his family recalls his legacy. 

Plus, a century after white women gained the right to vote, we explore the history of the 19th Amendment, and how it changed the U.S. forever. 

California Department of Public Health

California’s COVID-19 pandemic has evolved tremendously since it began in March, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that residents of skilled nursing facilities remain particularly at risk of severe infection and death. Although COVID-19 cases in skilled nursing facilities account for only 3 percent of the state’s overall caseload, almost 20 percent of the state’s deaths have occurred among these vulnerable residents.

Fresno American Indian Health Project

While reports show that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects communities of color, gaps in data have made it difficult to quantify the impact of the virus on indigenous populations. To get a better sense of how Native Americans in the Valley are faring during the pandemic, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Selina De La Peña, CEO of the Fresno American Indian Health Project.

Almost half the people tested for COVID-19 last Wednesday at Mesa Verde had positive results. 

Thirty two out of 70 people tested positive. Asif Qazi, who’s been detained at Mesa Verde since February, says he’s not surprised.

“It’s not possible to social distance in a place where you have to use the same sinks, toilets and showers as other people,” Qazi said. “When you line up it’s not like your lining up six feet apart. It’s shoulder to shoulder.”  

Rachael Goldring Bell

A global pandemic like COVID-19 can be risky for anyone, but the risk level is on a totally different scale for Rachael Goldring Bell of Clovis. Born with congenital heart disease, she was later diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and an immune disorder, all of which increase her risk of a severe bout of COVID-19.

Ever since a trip to Southern California in early March, the 27-year-old psychology student hasn’t left her house for fear of contracting the virus. Here's an audio postcard of her experience sheltering in place with her husband, her parents, two cats and two dogs.

Fresno County COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

After announcing that a data snafu had resulted in an undercount of thousands of new COVID-19 cases, state health officials said this week the problem’s been resolved—at least at the state level. County health departments are left to clean up the data that feeds into their own county dashboards.

On this week’s Valley Edition: One Clovis woman hasn’t left her house since visiting Southern California in March. We hear how she’s been sheltering in place with three disorders that put her at risk of severe COVID-19.

And distance learning is a new experience even for seasoned public school teachers. But what about educators who have just started their careers? What’s it like for them? 

And later, we speak to a Guardian reporter who is investigating how agricultural workers have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

Vivian Ho and Monica Velez

This week, The Guardian published the first in a series of reports on why COVID-19 cases have surged in the Central Valley. Valley Public Radio Host Kathleen Schock spoke with reporter Vivian Ho about her investigation into how the virus spread among agricultural workers. Also joining the conversation is UC Merced Associate Professor of Sociology Edward Flores, who recently co-published a study on the connection between low-wage employment and the coronavirus.

At least 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield as of Monday, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Advocates say the people detained are not getting proper medical attention.

Christian Orellana, 22, contracted the virus in late July. On Saturday, he fainted at Mesa Verde. His lawyer, Ambar Tovar with the Defense Project in Bakersfield, said officials sent him to his bed even though she asked that a doctor examine him. 

Fresno Unified School District Livestream

The Fresno Unified School District announced its finalized plans Monday for distance learning.

In a virtual press conference, School Board President Keshia Thomas made one thing clear:

“The distance learning families experienced this past spring will not be what families experience this new school year.”

Farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley are facing higher risks of contracting COVID-19 compared to non-agricultural industries, according to a new farmworkers study. That’s on top of dealing with extreme heat and pesticide exposure. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We’ll hear firsthand accounts of how COVID-19 has impacted conditions for those working in the fields.

We also talk to a reporter who spent three weeks in Kern County’s corner of the Mojave Desert. Her new podcast investigates false promises of wealth in California City. 

And, we discuss what will happen to Valley renters out of work because of COVID-19 and potentially facing homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

Patience Milrod and Amber Crowell

California Gov. Gavin Newsom suspended most evictions in April. But now state lawmakers are debating whether to lift the moratorium, leaving renters who have lost their jobs to the pandemic facing an uncertain future.

Courtesy of Tower Theatre and Visalia Fox Theatre

Performing arts venues have been dark since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March - including some of the Central Valley’s most historic theatres. But efforts are taking place to help these landmarks weather the storm.

To learn more, Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke with Laurance Abbate, CFO of The Tower Theatre in Fresno, and Vikky Escobedo, Executive Director of the Fox Theatre in Visalia.

CA Public Health Facebook page

During a livestreamed address earlier this week, California Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly dropped a bombshell: that the state infectious disease database known as CalREDIE, where labs report testing data and county public health departments extract local numbers, has been undercounting new cases.

 

The City of Fresno’s response rate to the 2020 census is lower than the state average of 63.5%. Right now, 62.3% of households have responded, but the rate falls below 50% in certain Fresno zip codes.

Courtesy of The Wonderful Company

The largest agricultural employer in the San Joaquin Valley announced today that it’s providing $1 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief in rural communities. 

Fruit and nut powerhouse The Wonderful Company says the form of that relief will be decided by community non-profits applying for grants. 

Alice Daniel / KVPR

 

 

Outside the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Fresno, volunteers unload boxes of ribbed sinqua from a farmer’s pickup truck.  

“All right they’re all good to go,” a young man says. “All of it?” another volunteer asks as he and others line up to carry the boxes of vegetables inside.

 

Premier Hospitalist of Bakersfield Facebook

Over the past few months, we’ve talked to a number of doctors and nurses about their experiences during the pandemic. Today we’ll hear from Dr. Amy Mehta. She’s a pulmonary critical care physician at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel spoke with her earlier this week.  

 

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