Tulare County

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Multiple fires continue to ravage forests in the Sierra. However, one area in the Sierra National Forest escaped major destruction because of prescribed fires done over a year ago.

Balch Park is a Tulare County park known for its grove of Giant Sequoias. Karine Hunt, a forestry assistant 2 with Cal Fire, said a collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service saved the area from being devastated by the SFQ Complex Fire. 

Andrew Nixon - file photo / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in the San Joaquin Valley have been on the state’s COVID-19 watch list for months, and are still restricted under the state’s new rating system.

Joe Moore (file photo) / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and Tulare Counties declared local emergencies Thursday after rendering plant Baker Commodities in Kerman stopped accepting livestock carcasses. 

Jimmy Andreoli, a spokesman with the company, says it has reached its limit in how many animals it can process according to its permit with the state Air Resources Board. If it surpasses that limit, it could be fined. 

Christopher Greer, the assistant agricultural commissioner in Tulare County says the summer heat kills more cows.  

Marion County Sheriff's Office in Florida, via FOIA

A year ago, Tulare County native Jose Manuel Martinez was facing 10 life terms in prison before a trial in Florida that could have resulted in the death penalty. But after testimony from his family, painting Martinez as nothing but a loving father, uncle, and brother, he was spared, and given another life sentence. 

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.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

 

People experiencing homelessness often rely on the hospital emergency room for medical care. In Porterville, Vera Miles has done it multiple times. She’s lived under the trees along the Tule River in Porterville for five years. The 60-year old shares the space with her partner. She says she isn’t worried about getting the coronavirus.

 

“I think we're safer down here than anywhere actually,” says Miles. “With this going on, I'd rather be here.”

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

 

Earlier this week, Kaweah Delta Healthcare District reported a record high of 68 COVID-19 patients in its hospital beds. Soon, however, the Visalia hospital and at least two others in the San Joaquin Valley will be receiving help from the armed services.

 

In early July, the Visalia Unified School District removed Black Lives Matter posters placed by students along a fence outside El Diamante High School.  While some saw this act as silencing free speech, the district says it was trying to protect students. Now the district is creating a new space for students to engage.

 

Brandon Gridiron is the district’s Administrator of Equity. He says the decision to take down the signs came solely out of concern for the safety of the students after several adults became aggressive.

 

Fresno County Department of Public Health

With a total of more than 200 deaths and 8,000 cases tallied so far, the burden of COVID-19 continues to grow in the San Joaquin Valley and foothills. This week, the rise in numbers has put three Valley counties on the state’s watch list.

The state’s goal for each county is for less than 8 percent of all COVID-19 tests to turn out positive, a measure called the “positivity rate.” But in Fresno, Tulare and Kings Counties, the positivity rate is above 10 percent.

Alice Daniel

Last November, we brought you the story of Manuel and Olga Jimenez. They’re a Woodlake couple who created a mile-long community botanical garden in their town to inspire and teach kids. Hundreds of young people have volunteered at the Bravo Lake Botanical Garden since it was started 17 years ago.

Courtesy of Ana Cornejo

In two separate incidents this weekend, cars intentionally drove into pedestrians at rallies protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man murdered by Minneapolis police. 

In Bakersfield Friday night, around 300 people gathered in front of the city’s police department, holding signs and rallying peacefully. Ana Cornejo, a grade school teacher, was among them when a gray SUV sped through the street.

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.    

 

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. 

 

Kaiser Family Foundation

On Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted to open the county ‘effective immediately.’ This comes in spite of the county having some of the highest COVID-19 numbers in the state.

Courtesy of Benfie Liu

A couple weeks ago, we told you about how the Central California Blood Center is collecting plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. Since then, a number of people have stepped forward to donate, including Benfie Liu. 

Liu is 29 years old and a medical resident at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia. She works in emergency medicine, but she never expected to encounter a pandemic, let alone get the virus. 

Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency Website

The majority of the 25 Coronavirus deaths in Tulare County are due to an outbreak at a Visalia nursing home. In fact, nearly half of the county’s 441 COVID-19 cases are nursing home related.

Google Maps

A nursing home in Visalia announced on Wednesday that six residents and two healthcare professionals have tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Redwood Springs Healthcare Center is a nursing facility in the central San Joaquin Valley that currently holds 176 beds. The healthcare staff experienced the onset of symptoms while caring for two patients in one room, the nursing home said in a statement.

 

Porterville Fire Department

After a fire devastated the Porterville Public Library, the city's fire department held a processional Thursday Monring to move the body of one of their own to the Tulare County Coroner. 

25-year-old firefighter Patrick Jones’ body was recovered from the remains of the library Wednesday. He responded to the fire Tuesday afternoon, and wanted to make sure everyone was evacuated. Tulare County Incident Officer Joanne Bear says his peers remember Jones’ dedication.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: It’s been two and a half months since the mass shooting in a Fresno backyard that killed four members of the Hmong American community. We speak to mental health providers helping family members heal. 

Casey Beck

Contaminated water has flown from faucets in Tooleville, a small community in Tulare County, since the 1980s. "The Great Water Divide: California's Water Crisis" is a new documentary that follows the residents' efforts to connect to neighboring Exeter's water supply. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke to the filmmaker, Casey Beck, and Tooleville resident Ben Cuevas Martinez. 

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