Interview

County of Kern Facebook page

 

Over the last few weeks, the local COVID-19 landscape has changed dramatically. In the San Joaquin Valley, average daily cases have dropped to a fraction of what they were in late July and early August, and hospitals are regaining the beds necessary for their normal, non-COVID volume of patients. Dozens of people are still dying of the virus each week, however, and health officials are on high alert for bumps in cases associated with Labor Day festivities.

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.

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.

Anjeli Macaranas

Violinist Anjeli Macaranas recently graduated from University High School in Fresno and will be attending Harvard this fall, from home. She performed this spring on Valley Public Radio’s Young Artists Spotlight and as a guest on the Play On series early this summer. Valley Public Radio’s David Aus recently caught up with her to learn more about her Little Virtuosos Project and the interconnection between music and mental health.

KPCC's LAist Studios

In the southeast corner of Kern County is the Mojave Desert. In that dry landscape there’s a city that looks half built.

There are roads and some houses, but it seems unfinished. That city’s past and present are investigated in a new podcast from KPCC’s LAist Studios, called California City. 

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.

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.  

 

Fresno County Jail (file photo)

 

Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 response this week shifted to eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley, where he is now sending support teams and $52 million in aid to assist with testing, contact tracing and other containment measures.

 

StoryCorps

In February and March, the StoryCorps mobile 2020 tour was in Fresno and Bakersfield documenting the stories of San Joaquin Valley residents. As part of Valley Public Radio’s collaboration with the personal history project, we’ll be producing segments over the next year based on some of these recorded conversations. Today you’ll hear from two religious leaders in Fresno: Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel and Reza Nekumanesh, executive director of the Islamic Cultural Center.

Rebecca Sohn; CalMatters

One of the cornerstones of the COVID-19 response is contact tracing – when teams of people track down and get in touch with close contacts of those who have tested positive. In order to progress in reopening, Governor Gavin Newsom has required every county health department to take on 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.

Naveen Alasaad sits at her dining table in her Fresno home catching up on the day with three of her six children. Their conversations are often a mixture of Arabic and English and on this night, the topics range from online school to the pandemic. 

 

Saint Agnes Medical Center

This week, California hit a grim milestone: it now has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any state in the country, a record perhaps inevitable given that it is also the country’s most populous state. Nonetheless, hospitalizations and ICU rates continue to rise statewide, and here in the San Joaquin Valley, as in the rest of the state, the disease has now infected more than 1 out of every 100 residents. 

Kelly Bearden and Rich Mostert

As businesses throughout the Valley struggle due to COVID-19, many small businesses and entrepreneurs are turning to their local Small Business Development Centers, or SBDCs, for help accessing capital and reimagining their business models. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Rich Mostert, director of the Valley Community SBDC and Kelly Bearden, director of the CSU Bakersfield SBDC, about how small businesses in the Valley are meeting this moment.

Valley Children's Hospital / Kaweah Delta Healthcare District

As hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise, Valley Children’s Hospital has made a creative offer: It will accept pediatric patients from area hospitals to make way for adults suffering from COVID-19. This COVID update for the week of July 13-17 features excerpts from a conversation with David Christensen, Chief Physician Executive of Valley Children’s Hospital.

Fresno County Behavioral Health Department

 

In June, 17 people in Fresno County died by suicide, a number that the Fresno County Behavioral Health Department revealed is the highest of any month since at least 2017. It’s made all the more stark by the fact that early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, suicides had dropped significantly.

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