Tulare County

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Next Tuesday, California is slated to reopen its doors following more than a year of pandemic-related restrictions. The state’s reopening system, known as the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, will dissolve, and businesses and houses of worship will be permitted to open without capacity limits or distancing restrictions.

California State Parks

The Cal Ag Roots podcast series “We Are Not Strangers Here” explores the history of Black Americans in rural California. This week's Valley Edition features an episode from the series, titled “Back to the Land: Allensworth and the Black Utopian Dream,” produced and hosted by Caroline Collins.  

When Governor Gavin Newsom stopped in Fresno earlier this week, he was widely anticipated to announce that Fresno would be the site of the state’s newest mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic. The clinic, which he had alluded to earlier in the week, is expected to be run in partnership between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and it would bring in thousands of vaccine doses each day beyond what the county already receives from the state.

Dympna Ugwu-Oju, Jonathan Mehta Stein, PEN America and Paul Myers

When a local newspaper is forced to reduce its reporting staff or shut down altogether, research shows there’s a huge impact on the community it serves. Often, voter participation goes down, while government borrowing goes up.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Low income communities across the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the state are being hit hard by rising water and utility debt according to a recent survey released by the California Water Board. 

Michael Claiborne, an attorney with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, says residents are having to decide which essential service to pay for amid a global pandemic. 

Kaweah Delta Health Care District

Five days into a regional stay-at-home order, COVID-19 infections in the San Joaquin Valley are soaring and hospitals are scrambling to make space on floors already crowded with flu patients. On Thursday of this week, the California Department of Public Health estimated that intensive care units in the San Joaquin Valley reported fewer than 2 percent of their beds were available, all while more people are dying of the virus than they have in months.

KVPR / Madi Bolanos

For over 35 years, the United States has partnered with Mexico to share resources during peak fire activity. And right now, 100 Mexican firefighters are in Tulare County helping to battle the SQF Complex Fire.

The crew from Guadalajara arrived Friday at the Kern County High School in Lake Isabella, where they were greeted by California fire officials. It’s not the first visit for Ramon Silva, deputy chief of the National Forestry Commission of Mexico. He helped fight the Camp Fire in 2018 so he’s seen the devastation wildfires have wreaked on the state and it concerns him.  

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Multiple fires continue to ravage forests in the Sequoia. However, one area in the Sequoia 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. 

 

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