health

On this week's Valley Edition: Fresno's homeless and affordable housing crisis has exploded in the wake of the pandemic. We take a closer look at the struggle to find shelter for the unhoused and the city policies in place to offer relief.

 

And a new study from Harvard explores the link between wildfire smoke and COVID deaths last year. Plus, how will the decennial process of redistricting shape politics in the Valley?   

 

And the Fresno Art Museum reopens to the public.

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Armando Celestino walks between rows of grapevines in a Madera County vineyard. He’s handing out small zip lock bags to farm workers filled with hand sanitizer, masks and information on the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Celestino works with Centro Binancional, a community organization that assists those who speak, indigenous languages like Mixtec and Zapotec.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

So far, the Red Cross has provided hotel rooms for 2,300 evacuees from the Creek Fire and counting. But because of so much demand, people may need to be prepared to stay out of county—and that can prove difficult for those with medical conditions.

When the evacuation order came down on Wednesday, Robert Alessandro wasn’t at his home in Tollhouse. He was at a Clovis clinic hooked up to a dialysis machine. The 62-year-old with end-stage renal disease receives the treatment every other day. “I’m pretty out of it” after treatment, he said. “It takes a lot out of you.”

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. 

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. 

As COVID-19 outbreaks in food production plants continue to make workers sick in the San Joaquin Valley, employees at one plant outside Bakersfield are calling on the State Attorney General to step in.

Primex Farms in Wasco employs around 400 people. As of last Wednesday, 150 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and over 70 had gone back to work, a company spokesman said. 

 

But Armando Elenes, secretary treasurer for the United Farm Workers, said workers did not find out about the outbreak through their employer.

 

Kern Medical / Kerry Klein

 

As COVID-19 case counts rise across California, prompting a new wave of business closures from Governor Gavin Newsom, hospitals are slowly approaching their capacities. Although Bakersfield’s Kern Medical is currently nearing as many patients as it can handle, it has plans to expand.

 

Office of the Governor of California Twitter page

On Sunday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars to close in seven California counties, including four in the San Joaquin Valley: Fresno, Kern, Tulare and Kings. He also recommended bar closures in eight others. Health officials in Kern County, however, say the order was made without consulting them.

 

Fresno Alliance

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department reported 507 positive COVID-19 cases at the county jail on Monday. That’s almost a quarter of the total jail population, but testing has still been limited to one part of the facility. 

The sheriff’s department reported its first cases of the coronavirus on June 19th. That’s when 13 incarcerated people who were being transferred out tested positive for COVID-19. The 13 had been housed in the jail’s north annex. 

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. 

 

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.

Elieth Martinez

The Latinx community is being hit the hardest in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, according to the latest demographics from the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Central Valley Meat Co.

 

Rural Kings County has seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. The majority of those cases can be traced back to the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford.

As of Wednesday, Kings County reported 211 cases of the coronavirus; 138 of them are connected to the meat packing facility, which is still operating.  County Supervisor Doug Verboon says he’s not surprised by the spike.   

It got into the facility, said Verboon. “Someone got the virus and took it into the workplace and it spread pretty fast there.”

Valley Fever: A Terror In The Body, A 'Wimp' In The Soil

Apr 28, 2020
Lauren J. Young / Science Friday

The following excerpt is adapted from a segment about the fungal disease valley fever from the April 24, 2020 episode of the WNYC Studios show Science Friday. Read the rest of the piece here, and hear the full Science Friday segment including an interview with FM89's Kerry Klein here.

Central California Blood Center Facebook

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient as an experimental treatment for those sick with the coronavirus. The treatment is based on the concept that the recovered person now has antibodies to fight the disease.

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.

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.

Madera County Department of Public Health

Madera and Fresno County public health departments confirmed single cases of the coronavirus Saturday; both are isolated cases with a known source of transmission, officials said. 

A Madera County resident tested positive for the coronavirus following the resident’s return from a recent Princess Cruise trip, according to a statement from the Madera County Department of Public Health. 

The patient has been isolated and is in stable condition, according to the statement by Madera County Public Health Officer Dr. Simon Paul.

Ezra David Romero / KVPR

Last week, the State of California took its first steps to fully ban the harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos that can cause neurological problems and developmental delays in children. The ban means, however, that growers have to find alternatives for managing insects. Finding those alternatives is the goal of a new statewide group that includes members of the San Joaquin Valley agriculture community.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

As we approach the midterm elections, we wanted to examine the health platforms of some of California’s highest profile candidates: The two men running for governor. There’s Gavin Newsom, currently the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor and the former mayor of San Francisco, who’s favored to win the election. Then there’s Republican John Cox, a businessman and former presidential candidate in southern California. What health goals are they making, and how likely are they to keep their promises?

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