Local news

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The city of Riverside is asking residents to keep getting tested for COVID-19. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports testing is central to re-opening businesses, schools and the economy.

Riverside County has shown some encouraging improvements in positivity rates in recent weeks, but the other metrics the state looks at to determine what re-opening tier a county is qualified for are still preventing the region from advancing to the less restrictive red tier in the state’s re-opening blueprint.

The newly appointed California State University Chancellor, Joseph Castro, made Cal State San Bernardino his second stop on a statewide virtual tour of campuses Wednesday. 

During a media briefing, Castro, the former President of Cal State Fresno, said he plans to raise the visibility of the 23-campus system throughout the state and nation.

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Some youth and adult sports may now resume play in Riverside County now that coronavirus case rates have met a state threshold. The eligible moderate and high contact sports include soccer, football, baseball, cheer and water polo.

Inland News Today reported Tuesday that case rates in Riverside County dipped to 11.3 per 100,000 residents, well below the state threshold of 14 needed to resume sports.

San Bernardino County could advance into the red tier of the state's re-opening blueprint as soon as March 22. Director of Public Health Corwin Porter said, that while the county is rapidly approaching a total of 300,00 coronavirus cases, infection rates are slowing.

“Some of the key things that will change is that retail will be expanded, we will see restaurants being able to allow indoor dining [and] we’ll see gyms for the first time, in seems like foreve, have some capacity to open inside with modifications," said Porter.

Riverside County health officials announced a milestone of giving over 500,000 coronavirus vaccine doses. This comes as the county prepares to receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as next week. 

Submitted/Ontario International Airport

Ontario International Airport announced it is expanding service to Chicago this August with two American Airlines flights daily to O'Hare. It’s a sign of the airport’s steady recovery from the pandemic which continues to keep air travel numbers down worldwide.

In a release, Airport CEO Mark Thorpe said it is welcome news, but not surprising. Ontario was the fastest growing airport in the U.S. before the pandemic, and it is now the fastest recovering airport in California and the third quickest to restore flights in the U.S.

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Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators identified seven San Jacinto homes over the weekend that were taken over by illegal marijuana growing operations. 

According to Inland News Today, the discovery was part of a long-term Sheriff’s investigation. Search warrants linked the homes to a local drug-trafficking operation and resulted in the arrest of ten suspects from the Hemet-San Jacinto area.

Officers seized 8,736 marijuana plants, 700 pounds of processed marijuana and $64,000 in cash from the homes.

Riverside County residents who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at county run sites have a new way to check on the status of their invitation for their second dose appointment. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more from the county’s weekly public health update.

Residents can now go online to check on the status of second dose invitation at rivcoph.org/COVID-19-2nd-Dose-Information.

San Bernardino County

The rollout of San Bernardino County’s new mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week, means seniors in rural and mountain communities have more direct access to the vaccine. 

Over the next several weeks, two county vans will exclusively serve seniors age 65 and older at several locations across the far-flung region.

These communities include San Bernardino, Chino Hills, Colton, Lucerne Valley, Twentynine Palms, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino, Hesperia, Montclair, Trona, Needles, and others. The vans held clinics this week in Crestline, Lytle Creek and Lake Arrowhead.

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Riverside County announced Tuesday that COVID-19 case rates met the state’s threshold to allow for schools to restart in-person kindergarten through sixth grade education. Meanwhile in San Bernardino County, teachers can now sign up to receive the vaccine at county run sites.

In order to reopen, schools in Riverside County must have pre-approved plans. According to a release, currently four districts have approval including Corona-Norco, Palo Verde Valley, Desert Sands, and Murrieta Valley.

NPS-Hannah Schwalbe/TWITTER

Spring visitors to Joshua Tree National Park can typically expect limited parking, full campgrounds and long lines to enter the park. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports, with visitation numbers up last year, rangers are expecting even bigger crowds during their historically busy season.

To avoid the crush of people, rangers suggest visitors follow these three tips during March and April. Plan mid-week trips, buy a digital pass ahead of time at recreation.gov, and arrive before 10 a.m. and avoid leaving around sunset.

San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools/TWITTER

Five San Bernardino County High School Academic Decathlon teams are advancing to the State Championship set to begin in March. Those high school teams include Chaffey, Chino, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands and county champion Etiwanda.

They will compete against 78 other high school teams for the coveted state title from March 25 to 28. The top two teams will advance to the national championship.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

Skeletal remains found in Twentynine Palms near Joshua Tree National Park have now been identified as a missing Northern California woman.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department identified the deceased as 37-year-old Erika Llyod. She was last seen June 17, close to eight months ago, in the Bay Area city of Walnut Creek and was believed to have been on a road trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

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A new poll out of U.C. Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI) found that anti-mask protestors in the Inland Empire do not represent the majority. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports that instead, greater than 4 in 5 voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties support a public mask mandate. This comes as U.S. health officials say mask wearing may be needed into 2022.

Both Riverside County and the city of Riverside declared racism a public health crisis during the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports, several anti-racist groups are now working to help turn these declarations into lasting change.

Janice Rooths, an independent consultant focused on racial equity issues, has this definition of anti-racism:

“It is being actively involved in trying to dismantle racism and racist systems and policies and not just letting things go,” said Rooths.

Center for Social Innovation UCR/TWITTER

The results of a survey on the top educational priorities of Black families and students across the Inland Empire was released Thursday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson reports that the goal was to raise up Black voices in the conversation around solving racial inequalities in education.

Academic success, Black History education, college and career access, effective teachers and graduation rates. These were the top five priorities as shared by the 955 survey participants who nearly all identified as African American or Black.

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Scientists have found a new way to study hard to access animals in urban areas. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson spoke with a Cal State San Bernardino biology professor about using crowd sourced data to learn more about a common but secretive backyard lizard.

Bree Putman likes to study how animals are handling the challenges of humans invading their space due to increasing urbanization. Since most urban land is private, "As a scientist I can’t just go out and do a survey because I would be trespassing on someone’s land,” said Putman.

Family Service Administration/Submitted

The Family Service Association (F.S.A.), a Moreno Valley non-profit, received a $120,000 grant to address COVID-19 disparities in San Bernardino County from the Oakland-based Public Health Institute.

They will use the money to roll out an outreach plan in early March to target vulnerable groups like seniors, essential workers, people living in poverty, communities of color and immigrants around behavioral changes to prevent disease spread and encourage vaccine adoption.

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Over 11 percent of San Bernardino County residents have now been vaccinated. That’s according to a new portal launched by the county last week.  KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on what the first round of data looks like.

Of those vaccinated, over seven percent have received one dose and three percent are fully vaccinated with two doses. Patients age 75 to 79 have the highest vaccination rate followed by patients 80 and older.

U.S. Forest Service

San Bernardino National Forest officials are asking for public comments on a proposed wildfire prevention project for the Lytle Creek Area. 

Lytle Creek sits west of the Cajon Pass and north of the cities of Fontana and Rialto. Officials says the chaparral and grassland area has become overgrown since the catastrophic 2003 Grand Prix Fire. The proposal explains fuel reduction methods like thinning and prescribed burning are needed to prevent a future catastrophic fire event.

A tight vaccine supply means both Riverside and San Bernardino County will continue to prioritize residents age 65 and older in their vaccine push. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on this and securing second dose appointments.

Riverside County opened up its public health vaccine clinics to people age 65 and older Monday, but University Health System Chief of Family Medicine Dr. Geoffry Leung warned that supply continues to be limited. Riverside County vaccine appointment information can be found here.

City of Eastvale

Vote-by-mail ballots are on their way to city of Eastvale voters for a March 2 special election. The Riverside County Registrar mailed 29,000 ballots to registered voters in Eastvale last week and began operation of early voting sites on February 1.

The measure up for consideration is the city’s “No-Tax Increase Gann Measure.” If approved by voters, it would allow Eastvale to keep more local tax dollars in the city for vital services like police and fire. It would not raise or impose new taxes on residents.

San Bernardino County/YOUTUBE

San Bernardino County Superbowl fans can catch Minnesota Vikings running back and San Bernardino High School graduate Alexander Mattison in an ad on ESPN Desportes during the Superbowl on February 7.

  

Mattison, speaking Spanish in the ad, serves as a county spokesperson encouraging residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

He appears in purple Vikings attire standing on San Bernardino High’s football field, where as a student he was a football, wrestling and track star.

County of Riverside/TWITTER

Both Riverside and San Bernardino County officials say they each have around 800,000 people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Weekly, the number of vaccine doses shipped vary, making it hard for county officials to plan ahead. This means with vaccine demand far outpacing supply, appointments continue to be hard to find. As new slots are released online, they are getting snatched up notoriously fast like the 3,500 appointments for the Fontana Speedway “super” site that filled up in less than 20 minutes on January 31.

City of Redlands/FACEBOOK

Outdoor street dining in downtown Redlands is set to resume February 11. The city worked with local businesses to restart the program after the state stay-at-home order was lifted on January 25.

The popular State Street Promenade dining event closes portions of East State Street and Fifth Street to through-traffic allowing local restaurants to set up outdoor tables in the road adjacent to their properties. The event will take place weekly 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

People's Collective for Environmental Justice

A petition circulating in the community of Bloomington is urging San Bernardino County officials to reject a rezoning proposal that would allow for a three million square foot warehouse district. Community members say it would worsen the diesel pollution already plaguing communities of color in the region. 

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This Superbowl Sunday, Inland Empire public health officials are asking residents to consider virtual gatherings, and to take caution to avoid the further spread of COVID-19.

While the Inland Empire is beginning to recover from the December and January surge of infections linked to the holiday season, several local hospitals remain strained and available ICU beds are at zero percent capacity for the Southern California region.

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The city of San Bernardino’s Cajon High School took first place in the 39th annual San Bernardino County Mock Trial Finals last week. 

This was the second time in school history that the Cajon High School Cowboys have taken the top county prize.

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A pair of consumer groups would like Southern California Edison to refund customers $124 million for a mismanaged lightbulb program. An investigation found that SCE lost track of over one million lightbulbs paid for by customers over a three-year period. 

San Bernardino County set up a new portal online for both medical and non-medical volunteers to sign up and help at county-run COVID-19 vaccination sites. 

Volunteers are needed to fulfill the county’s plans to operate a vast number of vaccination sites throughout the state’s largest geographic county, said San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor’s Chair Curt Hagman.

“So that volunteer portal will allow people who want to get involved to help get this vaccination out, which allows us to be a force-multiplier,” said Hagman.

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