Megan Jamerson

Twitter/San Bernardino County Fire Department

Windy conditions, low humidity and dry brush accelerated the El Dorado Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains Wednesday night. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports as of Thursday morning the blaze had burned 12,610 acres and is 23 percent contained.

San Bernardino County Fire officials say four homes have been lost but hundreds more were saved Wednesday evening by firefighting crews. More than 21,000 people have been evacuated so far.

state.gov

Through COVID-19 contact tracing, Riverside County is now reaching close to 100 percent of infected people and San Bernardino County is reaching nearly 70 percent.  KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports tracing plus testing is key to getting the counties moved to the next tier on the state’s re-opening scheme.

Lana Culp, spokesperson for San Bernardino County Public Health, says tracing has shown that a lot of transmission is happening through gatherings between family and friends. Which she says is hard to avoid in a time when seeing those people brings comfort.

Twitter/San Bernardino County Fire Department

Santa Ana winds caused the El Dorado Fire to flare up Tuesday evening to 11,479 acres, prompting new evacuation warnings. But KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports crews were able to hold the perimeter overnight and increase containment to 19 percent.

Nearly 1,000 personnel are battling the El Dorado fire flames on Wednesday along with over 100 engines, six helicopters, and four fixed-wing airplanes.

Twitter/San Bernardino County Fire Department

Firefighters are continuing their work to contain the El Dorado fire above Yucaipa—which has burned 10,574 acres and is 16 percent contained as of Tuesday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports crews are bracing for the challenge of Santa Ana wind conditions.

The combination of low humidity and gusty winds of over 40 miles per hour will make containment of the El Dorado fire more challenging for crews through Wednesday evening. The Santa Ana winds could potentially spread the fire further west into the neighborhoods of Yucaipa and Mentone.

Assemblymember Eloise Reyes

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was the guest at a Thursday town hall led by State Assemblymember Eloise Reyes. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports constituents asked a wide range of questions that reflect the diversity of the Inland Empire.

Under Becerra’s leadership the department of justice is keeping a busy schedule this year during the pandemic. A year which Reyes of Grand Terrace acknowledges has been unique.

“I think we are all going to agree on this," said Reyes. This year has been a challenge for all of us Californians.”

Twitter/ City of Riverside

City of Riverside gyms, fitness centers and places of worship can now apply to operate in city parks for free following a city council vote on Tuesday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on what this means.

In a press release Wednesday, Mayor Rusty Bailey said physical and spiritual well-being is essential during the pandemic and that the expansion of Riverside’s outdoor flex program aims to help with both.

Rep. Mark Takano of Riverside, hosted a virtual town hall to answer constituent questions about congressional efforts to tackle police reform on Wedensday. Despite a summer of public protests calling for change and bi-partisan support, legislative efforts recently stalled.

Takano says public sentiment around systemic racism in policing and the structure of law in America visibly changed this summer.

cdc.gov

Riverside County health officials reported the area’s first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome also known as MIS-C on Tuesday. It is a rare, but serious condition that can damage multiple organs in children who are exposed to or had COVID-19. 

A child under the age of 15 from western Riverside County is believed to have the first case. Officials also reported a probable second case of a child from the Coachella Valley.

cdc.gov

Flu season may be the last thing on people’s minds as the COVID-19 pandemic continues but it is time to start preparing. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke to the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Loma Linda University Health about why the flu vaccine needs to be a priority for everyone this year.

Dr. Jennifer Veltman says people should think of the flu vaccine like groceries or any other essential item. It is worth a trip outside the home even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

County of Riverside

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to support quarantine housing and financial relief for farmworkers who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with the organization partnering with the county about the fund’s significance and how it is only the beginning of the support these workers need.

Luz Gallegos of TODEC legal center says farmworkers in the Coachella Valley are faced with an impossible choice when they are told they should quarantine.

“It’s either you work or you don’t eat,” said Gallegos.

Wikimedia Commons

Voting will look very different this year in order to protect people from the pandemic. The Inland Empire’s millions of registered voters will all receive ballots in the mail, but a number of in-person voting centers will also be available. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on how voters in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties should prepare to vote this fall.

Voters in both counties need a plan for how they are going to vote and when. San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Bob Page says it’s their role to help people be informed.

Facebook / Rialto Unified School District

Rialto Unified School District is hoping to resume distance learning classes for its pre-K through eighth grade students on August 31. This comes after the district halted classes to investigate a malware attack on digital devices given to students. 

Facebook / SB City Police

State Representative Pete Aguilar announced Tuesday the city of San Bernardino’s Police Department is receiving another round of federal grant funding. This is the second grant awarded to the department this summer.

The latest Department of Justice grant to the San Bernardino Police Department is over $500,000. This comes after the city received $5.3 million from the government in July to form community-based policing teams.

Facebook / Rialto Unified School District

Rialto Unified School District is continuing its suspension of classes while they investigate a malware attack on digital devices given to students. 

Just two weeks into the school year, classes for Rialto’s approximately 25,000 and 1,300 teachers was shut down. Devices given to high schoolers, teachers and staff will be collected this week and replaced in the near future. Elementary and middle school devices were not affected and can be kept.

census.ca.gov

Census outreach organizers that first faced the challenge of encouraging responses during the pandemic are now dealing with the problem of less time to educate communities. 

Sky Allen, a local census coordinator for Inland Empowerment, says organizers are feeling motivated despite the surprise of the new deadline of September 30.

“We are so close," said Allen. "We only have so much time left so for us so it’s just push, push, push.”

Wikimedia Commons

Congressman Mark Takano sent an email this week asking his constituents in the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris for more information on their experiences with mail delays.

In an effort to understand the scope of mail delays, the congressman sent an email with a link to two surveys. The first is a general survey for all residents and the second for veterans.

state.gov

There are several indicators that can put a county on the state’s coronavirus watchlist. And as of Tuesday, both Riverside and San Bernardino County case rates and the testing positivity rates are still too high to be removed. 

Riverside County Health Department spokesman Jose Arballo says the area has a mixed bag of numbers. It has 196 cases per 100,000 people, and a test positivity rate of 11 percent. But there are plenty of ICU beds and ventilators available.

pixnio

Inland Empire restaurants and grocery stores are having difficulty providing exact change due to a national coin shortage.

The supply chain interruption for coins first started when businesses and banks closed due to the pandemic. Then stay at home orders for Fed employees meant coin production slowed down. Now to ease the shortage, there are strict limits on bank requests for dimes, nickels, quarters and pennies.

AFP via telesur

Immigrant rights groups held a virtual press conference on August 13 condemning the use of a chemical disinfectant at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in the Mojave Desert. A lawsuit asking for the release of all detainees was filed in April due to coronavirus concerns, and now members of Congress are calling for an investigation. 

Advocates say they started receiving calls from detainees in May reporting symptoms. They allege they came into contact with a hazardous chemical staff were using in unventilated areas to disinfect for COVID-19.

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Facing steep revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic economy, the city of Riverside is considering increasing its fees for trash and recycle pickup. 

In the proposal, monthly costs for residential pick-up services would increase by 15 percent in October. Which means standard curbside pick-up would go up by a little over $4 and backyard pickup by almost $7. Yearly increases would continue for four years at around a 3 percent rate.

San Bernardino National Forest

Local wilderness areas are joining National Parks as popular recreation areas during the coronavirus pandemic. Now with recent overcrowding on trails in the San Bernardino National Forest, the Forest Service is reinstating day use permits for three areas. 

Starting September 1, visiting the San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Cucamonga wilderness areas will require a free permit.

wikipedia

Riverside County Vector Control will begin treating 50 acres in Nuevo for mosquitos on Wednesday August 12 between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. This is after mosquitos in the area tested positive for West Nile Virus in late July and is part of the county’s plan to prevent the spread of West Nile virus and intensify mosquito surveillance.

It’s not unusual for mosquitos to test positive for the virus especially during the summer. West Nile virus can be spread to humans from an infected mosquito. To date there have been no documented cases of infection in the county.

pxhere

In the spring, as COVID-19 halted the economy, automobile use plummeted. And so did greenhouse gas emissions. Now, a whitepaper from the University of California Riverside's(U.C.R.) Center for Economic Forecasting and Development says this will not last and, instead, California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions may be out of reach. 

Like so many annual events, California’s largest pow wow is facing cancellation this year due the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an announcement by the San Manuel Pow Wow Committee on August 4, the members say they made the decision to cancel this year's event with a heavy heart.

The pow wow was planned for October at the San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino. But the committee says cancellation is the most responsible decision in order to protect the health and safety of their tribe and traveling guests.

Staff Sgt. Kassie McDole/15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

The U.S. Marine Corp has now identified the Marines killed during a training accident off the coast of San Diego on July 30th. This includes two Marines from Riverside County.

Among the nine Marines killed are 18-year-old Pfc. Brian Baltierra of Corona and 21-year-old Cpl. Cesar Villanueva of Riverside.

Their unit was on a routine shore-to-ship training exercise when their amphibious assault vehicle started taking on water a half mile from San Clemente Island.

The University of California, Riverside received some good budget news from the state Tuesday in a time when coronavirus related revenue shortfalls are requiring cuts in a lot of areas. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more.

The California state budget included two big wins for projects related to the Salton Sea. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more.

MEGAN JAMERSON/KVCR

For the first time, San Bernardino County is using goats in their fire prevention measures. The animals are used to clear dry grasses in undeveloped areas that put hundreds of nearby residents at risk. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson went to see the animals in action in the city of San Bernardino.

Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation

The Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California announced on Monday that it officially received the state funding needed to complete its downtown Riverside project. The funds were approved by Governor Gavin Newsom for the 2019-2020 budget.

With $3.5 million in state funding, construction can now begin on Mission Heritage Plaza—a mixed-use building and home to the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA)

How planets are formed is one of the great mysteries of astrophysics. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with a University of California Riverside(UCR) professor who contributed to an exciting discovery on the topic published in the journal Nature.

Scientists believe planets are born from disks of gas and dust orbiting new stars, but it has never been observed first hand. So, when data confirmed the existence of a planet caught in the act of forming in the debris around a young star, Dr. Stephen Kane was thrilled.

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