Megan Jamerson

Riverside County is opening up COVID-19 vaccine appointments at noon Thursday for six upcoming vaccination clinics. 

The Riverside County sites will administer 3,900 does free of charge over the weekend. Appointments are required and available to residents in all tiers of Phase 1a, tier one of Phase 1b and people age 65 and older.

Locations include Lake Elsinore’s Diamond Stadium, the Perris Fairgrounds, and the Indio Fairgrounds.

U.C. Riverside held a virtual panel Wednesday afternoon with experts and university leaders to talk through expectations around the Biden-Harris administration, including the specific influence two women might have. 

U.C. Riverside political science Professor Dr. Jennifer Merolla says she hopes that Kamala Harris’ historic rise to the office of the vice presidency will not only bring a unique perspective to the table but also have an effect on children.

A number of local members of Congress celebrated the historic swearing in of Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday on Twitter. Harris, a former California Senator, is the first woman and the first person of both South Asian and Jamaican decent to hold this national office. 

Senator Alex Padilla, who was appointed to take over Vice President Harris’ vacated Senate seat, declared in a tweet that Harris, a daughter of Oakland, has inspired women and girls around the world.

Lisa Ferdinando/OFFICE OF SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine at Riverside and San Bernardino County-run sites are now booked for most of January. As demands continue to outpace the extremely limited availability of doses, KVCR collected the latest information.


Who is eligible for the vaccine right now?

Both Riverside and San Bernardino County are following a tiered two-phase approach.

@ModernismWeek

Tickets to Palm Springs’ 21st annual Modernism Week are now available online. The event recently postponed its in-person events to April due to the pandemic.

In a blog post, Modernism Week explained the delay gives more time for the region’s health status to improve and for the event to make additional safety accommodations for the public.

Masks will be required for all in-person events scheduled from April 8 to 18 and will include architectural tours, a car show and a cocktail event.

Diocese of San Bernardino/YOUTUBE

Bishop Alberto Rojas officially took over as head of the San Bernardino Catholic Diocese in December. Rojas arrived almost a year ago in anticipation of Bishop Gerald Barnes’ retirement, and he hopes to soon finish a cycle of visiting all 92 parishes and 10 missions in the region. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson recently had the chance to speak with the Bishop.

Riverside University Health System

Inland Empire counties are quickly learning that the state system being used to register people for the COVID-19 vaccine can cause challenges. 

Riverside County director of public health Kim Saruwatari told her board of supervisors on Tuesday that vaccine registrations on the county’s website are filling up so fast that some people who are eligible to get the vaccine during Phase 1a of the distribution can not get appointments.

Submitted

The Riverside County Department of Social Services will begin hosting its annual conference on human trafficking prevention virtually on Monday. 

Dr. Katariina Rosenblatt, a trafficking survivor and author of the book Stolen, will speak at the conference on Thursday. She said trafficking is a challenging problem to bring awareness to.

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U.C. Riverside announced Thursday that it is leading one of the nation’s largest research initiatives to reverse a decline in honeybees which threatens food crops and prices.

With a 900,000 dollar grant, U.C. Riverside will help lead a group of researchers from U.C. Davis, San Diego and Merced campuses looking for solutions to restore bee colony populations.

Riverside County/TWITTER

A state run oxygen depot was set up Thursday in Riverside County to supply area hospitals and relieve high demand on oxygen suppliers. 

The depot, operating 24 hours a day, is made up of two large oxygen generators that can fill up tanks used by hospitals to supplement regional supply.

In a release, Riverside County Emergency Management Director Bruce Barton said oxygen suppliers are having a difficult time meeting the high demands of area hospitals. He explained COVID patients need a lot of oxygen which has been taxing the entire healthcare system.

Riverside County District Attorney/TWITTER

Utility scams have existed for decades, but the pandemic is creating new opportunities to seek out victims. Southern California Edison is warning its utility customers about the latest, a COVID-19 relief scam being distributed on a postcard with unauthorized use of SCE logos.

“Essentially, the postcard tries to bate our customers into setting up an in-person meeting with a supposed representative to discuss their eligibility for six months of relief on their SCE bills," said Luu.

Despite a slower than anticipated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, San Bernardino County is doing better than the state average for administering the immunization so far.

“To date, we have approximately vaccinated, about 45 percent of our allocation," said Arrowhead Regional Medical Center CEO Andrew Goldfrach. "In comparison, the state is seeing about 30 percent.”

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center/TWITTER

San Bernardino County health officials told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday that area hospitals are preparing to enter "crisis care" mode.

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Hospital Director, Bill Gilbert, told the board this means staff will have to look at demand versus resources.

"Basically, the message to our staff, respectively, is do more with less," said Gilbert. "We expect that there will be another surge in the next few weeks, and we are seeing that already in our emergency rooms.”

Diocese of San Bernardino/YOUTUBE

Bishop Alberto Rojas became the new leader of the Diocese of San Bernardino on December 28. The leadership change, in the nation’s fifth largest Catholic Diocese, was ushered in by Pope Francis’ acceptance of the retirement of Bishop Gerald Barnes announced by the Vatican the same day.

“Thank you for all you have shared with me," said Barnes in a recorded video message. "Thank you for your prayers, your support, the sharing of your gifts and for your constructive criticism.”

U.S. Forest Service- San Bernardino National Forest/FACEBOOK

Winter weather arrived December 28 in the San Bernardino Mountains, with snowfall expected to reach 4,000 feetThe U.S. Forest Service has a few reminders for visitors as they plan their upcoming visits to the National Forest.

In a press release, the forest service said snow chains are a must, and checkpoints along the highways are likely. Also, they advised San Bernardino Mountain visitors to plan for crowds, to keep their snow play to public lands, and to pack out trash including broken sled pieces.

Berdoo Film/berdoofilm.com

On Christmas Day, a documentary film on the city of San Bernardino called Berdoo will premiere on YouTube. The film is the creation of Executive Producer Nishita Matangi, a graduate of Loma Linda University’s School of Public Health. She saw the need to tell the story of a resilient community working to help its youth overcome barriers to simply attending school.

Matangi is originally from Northern California and said she first learned about San Bernardino when she made the decision to move there for graduate school.

City of Riverside

The city of Riverside announced on December 22 that it received the highest score possible on a yearly nationwide assessment of L.G.B.T.Q. inclusion by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with City Councilmember Erin Edwards about the work that made the score possible.

MEGAN JAMERSON/KVCR

On December 21, the two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, paid each other a rare holiday visit, appearing so close in the sky they nearly looked like one big star. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has a special story of catching this rare celestial event with her father, Jimmy Jamerson.

MEGAN JAMERSON: “Ok, Dad where are we and what are we doing?”

JIMMY JAMERSON: "We’re down the street from our house in a vacant lot, trying to look at the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter through a telescope.”

Congregations for Prophetic Engagement/FACEBOOK

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in the Inland Empire, two organizations, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement and Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, hosted a virtual event on December 16. They brought the faith and science communities together to address fears and help the African American community make an informed decision about the vaccine.

Riverside University Health System

Standing in the hospital parking lot during a press conference, emergency room housekeeper Alexa Lara said when she first heard about the vaccine she was hesitant to take it. But after learning about how it works, she volunteered to be among the first to receive it.

“I am at a daily exposure and I do have concerns and worries every day when I go home that I might bring something home to my family," said Lara. 

Asm. Eloise Gomez Reyes/FACEBOOK

A law that will allow inmate firefighters to have their records expunged, so they can pursue firefighting jobs after release, goes into effect in January. State Assemblymember Eloise Reyes hosted a virtual town hall on Thursday about the law she authored.

Thomas Stone, Interim Public Defender told the virtual audience his office is ready for an expected surge of applications from people who have been released for years but were not previously eligible to apply.

San Bernardino County/TWITTER

Just six hours after over 15,600 Pfizer vaccine doses arrived in San Bernardino County, the very first shot was given to ICU nurse Sonya Harrell at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Wednesday afternoon.

“For me, it means an end in sight to something we’ve been dealing with since March, so I’m really excited about it,” said Harrell.

www.ou.org

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in San Bernardino County Wednesday and Riverside County Friday as ICU capacity continues to shrink and deaths are on the rise. That's according to the latest reports provided by county officials at Tuesday's Riverside and San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors meetings.

blogs.kcrw.com

In the Inland Empire, where the logistics industry supports the region’s shopping habits, vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution caused by truck traffic. With the holiday shopping season shifting online due to the pandemic, KVCR’s Megan Jamerson had a discussion over Zoom with Dr. Jimmy O’Dea of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Andrea Vidaurre of the Warehouse Workers Resource Center about concerns and solutions.

Wikimedia Commons

After a three-year freeze on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA, December 7 marked the first day new applications could once again be submitted. 

For students who have been unable to support their higher education with DACA’s deportation protection and work authorization, this is a huge boon, said Dr. Jennifer Nájera, a U.C. Riverside Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies.

Asm. Eloise Gomez-Reyes/FACEBOOK

San Bernardino Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes was officially sworn in as the Democratic Majority Leader December 7 and is the first Latina to hold the position. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with Reyes about her priorities for the new legistlative session that begins in January and about the latest state stay-at-home orders.

Both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties continue to report record highs for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations at their Board of Supervisors meetings December 8. This comes as all Southern California counties adjust to stay at home orders that will last through Dec 28.

Riverside County Director of Public Health, Dr. Kim Saruwatari, told her Board of Supervisors that the intent of the new order is to keep people at home unless it is absolutely necessary for them to go out.

Hannah Schwalbe/National Park Service

As the winter holidays approach, officials at Joshua Tree National Park are asking the community to take steps to prepare for crowds during this traditionally busy season.

Park Superintendent David Smith says public interest in the park has gone way up in the past four years. Like national parks across America, they too have seen a pandemic trend of more local visitors looking for safe outdoor activities.

Riverside County Fire/TWITTER

Santa Ana wind conditions and dry vegetation continue to fuel two fires in Riverside County Thursday.

The Airport Fire in Corona is 500 acres and zero percent contained. Nearly 200 crew members from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are working to contain the fire that started late Wednesday evening. As of Thursday morning, the blaze forced the closure of highway 71 in both directions.

All Airport Fire evacuation warnings have been lifted, but officials are warning residents conditions could change quickly.

TV production students from two Fontana Unified School District High Schools overcame the challenges of the pandemic to win honors in the Directing Change Film Contest. The statewide contest seeks to encourage students to learn about mental health issues and use film to improve outcomes in their communities through public service announcements.

Summit senior Audrey Juarez produced her PSA Overcome about handling the stress of the pandemic. 

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