Tulare County

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. 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In January 2018, the Tulare County City of Woodlake became home to the San Joaquin Valley’s first-ever recreational marijuana dispensary. Two other businesses, a large-scale cultivator and extract manufacturer, opened in 2019.

As of early 2020, the city’s tax revenue generated by the industry topped $800,000—far more than the $20,000 per month originally projected. In this interview, FM89’s Kerry Klein sat down with Woodlake Community Development Director Jason Waters to learn about what the windfall has meant for the city and what’s in store for Woodlake cannabis in 2020.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It’s state law that residences need heating and electricity, and the building has to be in good condition to be habitable. While this sounds straightforward, those who rent their homes sometimes struggle with landlords who are unresponsive and don’t make the proper repairs.

This week on Valley Edition: Frustration and hopelessness surround upcoming groundwater laws. Some growers feel so disillusioned, they’re selling their land and getting out of agriculture.

In Fresno, we speak with one retired Bulldog gang member who’s found a calling trying to reduce gun violence.

 

Plus: What happens when your home is so unsafe, it’s considered unlivable? A Tulare County woman describes being given only 72 hours to find somewhere new for herself and her four children.

 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Immigration lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley say they’re overwhelmed with their caseloads and it’s particularly pointed in Tulare County where the demand for services is growing. Although it’s hard to calculate the exact number of people looking for immigration attorneys, many people in the field say it’s significantly high.

Courtesy of Adrianne Hillman / Salt + Light Works

In most cities, people who live on the streets can find some relief staying for a night or two at a shelter. But in 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that Tulare and Kings counties have the highest rate of unsheltered, chronically homeless individuals for counties of their kind in the nation. 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

Irma Medellin left Mexico in 1988 to find work in the San Joaquin Valley. When she first arrived in Lindsay, she says she mostly kept to herself. She picked olives and apples, she worked in restaurants and as a seamstress.

 

It wasn’t until Medellin joined The Immigrant Photography Project at a local school a decade later that she started really interacting with her community. 

 

Fox26

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer stepped back into uniform Friday to announce a breakthrough in a 20-year-old murder investigation. At a press conference, Dyer announced that Visalia resident Nickey Stane is the primary suspect in the 1996 rape and murder of 22-year-old Debbie Dorian.

“We anticipate the arrest of Stane for that murder and rape in the very, very near future once some additional investigative work is comepleted by detectives,” said Dyer.

Lindsay Fox, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A Tulare County resident is the second person to die in California from a vaping-related illness. Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County’s Public Health Official, says the man who died Saturday had been in the  hospital with respiratory problems. He had a history of vaping and smoking.

“The CDC has suggested that people not vape because of these risks, they’re unknown, it’s too dangerous, and I would say the same thing,” Haught told Valley Public Radio.

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