Coronavirus | KALW


Check out our COVID-19 Community Resource Guide for information on everything from emergency childcare, access to essential services, volunteer opportunities, and more. 

We want to report on what matters most to you. If you have a question about the coronavirus, ask it below.


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Less than a week ago, Chanthon Bun was incarcerated at San Quentin Prison. He had been granted parole and was waiting to get out. But two things stood in his way: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and COVID-19.

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On this edition of Your Call, we're discussing the alarming number of coronavirus cases in California’s prisons. According to the California Department of Corrections Tracker, there are now 5,365 confirmed cases inside the state's 35 prisons. The official death toll is 28.

Holly J. McDede

A few weeks ago, University Press Books in Berkeley announced it would shut for good after nearly 50 years in the business. Now, the remaining East Bay independent bookshops  are turning to the community to hold on. 

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Positive cases of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison have now surpassed 1,000, including more than a hundred prison workers who tested positive. The outbreak started after a transfer of incarcerated people from Chino.

State Senators Question Prison Officials On Outbreak

Jul 1, 2020
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California lawmakers harshly criticized state corrections officials Wednesday, saying they botched their handling of the coronavirus pandemic by inadvertently transferring infected inmates to a virus-free prison, triggering the state’s worst prison outbreak.

Sarah Lai Stirland

Santa Clara County officials on Tuesday issued some requirements and recommendations for reopening schools.

The county did not commit to a firm date for opening K-12 school campuses.

But in a guidance document, the public health department said that schools should prioritize in-person instruction along with strict safety protocols.

photo by flickr user Eric Richardson / Resized


San Francisco landlords are suing the city over the COVID-era eviction moratorium. 

How COVID-19 Has Further Exposed Racial Health Disparities

Jun 30, 2020
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  On this edition of Your Call, we're speaking with doctors about how the COVID pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. According to The COVID Racial Data Tracker, Black people account for 23 percent of COVID-related deaths, despite making up only 13 percent of the US population.

Ninna Gaensler-Debs / KALW


Protesters gathered outside San Quentin, Sunday, to demand local officials take action to address the skyrocketing numbers of COVID-19 cases inside the prison.

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On this edition of Your Call’s Media Roundtable, we're discussing the Coronavirus crisis in Brazil. The country now has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world after the US. More than one million people have been infected and over 50,000 have died.

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As Bay Area cities are continuing to ease social distancing measures, Governor Gavin Newsom and Dr. Anthony Fauci warn Californians to remain cautious.


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On this edition of Your Call, we'll get an update on COVID-19 cases, which are surging. The United States reported 36,880 new cases on Wednesday, the largest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.

Health Officers Sound Alarm As California Economy Reopens

Jun 24, 2020
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Health officials in a San Francisco Bay Area county that was among the most aggressive in the nation in shutting down its economy to slow the spread of the coronavirus are warning of “worrisome” growing infections as California on Tuesday reported its highest daily infection rate to date and hospitalizations from the virus increase.

Meiying Wu

In the third month of shelter in place, some people are anxious to go outside and see friends. Others have to think about where they’ll park their home each night and how to get clean water for showers. Constance Johnson and her kids have been riding out the pandemic on a converted school bus in Richmond.

On this edition of Your Call’s media roundtable, we're speaking with FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith about The Virus: What Went Wrong, a new documentary that traces the Trump administration’s failure to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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If you live in San Mateo, and want to eat inside at a restaurant, work out at the gym or get a long-needed haircut, there’s good news: Sometime later this week, you’re likely to be able to do all those things.

That’s because the county’s Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow is expected to issue a revised and relaxed shelter-in-place order.

"San Quentin State Prison" by Zboralski. Used under CC BY-SA 3.0.


Last month, over a hundred people were transferred from a San Bernardino County prison — a known COVID-19 hotspot — to San Quentin State Prison. Now, over two weeks later, there’s at least 30 confirmed cases of the virus at San Quentin, only about half of which were transfers.

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The California Judicial Council voted Wednesday to end a policy setting the baseline bail at $0 for people accused of nonviolent crimes.

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On this edition of Your Call, we'll find out how the pandemic bailout benefited the rich instead of the working class. According to ProPublica, those $1,200 stimulus payouts were small change compared with the billions in tax breaks the CARES Act handed out to the country’s wealthiest.

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COVID has cancelled many people’s vacation plans, so more Bay Areans might be turning to camping. But can we go? Is it safe? And how can we do it responsibly?

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 On Tuesday afternoon BART officials released a statement, saying that another of their employees has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Photo courtesy of Sandip Roy

The Sundarbans in Bengal, India have become a speeded up version of global climate change.

  On this edition of Your Call, we're speaking with john a. powell, Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute. Professor powell is internationally recognized as a leading expert on civil rights and civil liberties.

In 1967, following a summer of civil unrest in cities across America, President Lyndon B. Johnson convened the Kerner Commission to look at the issues underlying these protests. The Commission's report, issued the following year, concluded that systemic racism lay at the heart of the problems and that  “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white –  separate and unequal.” Why did nothing come of the Commission's recommendations and how can we avoid repeating those mistakes today?

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area Performing Arts in Times of Corona, host David Latulippe welcomes members of the South Bay Musical Theatre on to the virtual stage of the Corona Radio Theater. Actors Joseph Cloward, Morgan Dayley, Kerie Darner, and Jenni Chapman perform selected scenes from Almost, Maine, a critically acclaimed play by American actor and playwright John Cariani (b. 1969). 

Adreanna Rodriguez / KALW

In California, farms have not been immune to COVID-19. A Farm Bureau Federation survey recently found that more than half of farms across the state have lost customers or sales due to pandemic. Small family farms are especially vulnerable.

Courtesy of Roots Community Health Center

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this interview contained errors that have been corrected, below:

* When Dr. Noha Aboelata said the virus is "almost controlled within the white population" we didn't mention she was referring to HIV/AIDS, not COVID-19. We apologize for any confusion our error may have caused.


The weather is warmer and many people are out protesting. But the coronavirus is still here and East Oakland remains a hot spot for COVID-19. Dr. Noha Aboelata of Roots Community Health Center is concerned that people are relaxing too fast.

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Reuben Houston is the owner and director of one of Colma Cremation and Funeral Services. The Bay Area has seen a relatively low COVID death rate compared to other population centers, but the virus has still affected his work. In this installment of "The Essentials," Reuben says the pandemic may change the way funerals are conducted for good.

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COVID-19 has spread to San Quentin State Prison, where over a dozen people incarcerated there have now been diagnosed with the virus.

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Summer may have just begun but parents and students around the Bay are already looking forward to returning to school and some sense of normal this fall. And it’s official, normal’s going to be different.