Thursday, April 2, 2020

A leading doctor warns we are entering into a crisis of care locally, The Padre Hotel closes temporarily, words of wisdom from a young teacher and must-see TV in the morning

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: If you listen to the medical experts, we are in for a bone chilling, terrifying month as illnesses and deaths from the coronavirus spike in April. Dr. Brij Bhambi, cardiologist and a physician-owner of The Bakersfield Heart Hospital, said the specter of the virus killing thousands and sending thousands of others to the hospital "sends shivers down my spine." Bhambi said California is
not ready for the virus and in fact there is a dangerous shortage of PPE (personal protection equipment) like face masks, gloves and even respirators. Nationally, the experts warn that between 100,000 and 240,000 could die because of the virus, and that is a "best case" scenario. If the public does not heed the call for social distancing, the death toll could go north of 2 million people. Even worse, Bhambi worried that if we run out of hospital beds and critical equipment like respirators physicians may be forced to make heart-breaking decisions on who gets treated, and who doesn't.

 * ... THE PADRE: The iconic Padre Hotel downtown, resurrected to life with a dramatic renovation back in 2009, has shut down because of the coronavirus. A sign on the Padre's main entrance said the hotel was was expected to reopen on April 30.

 * ... BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB: Hats off to Aera Energy, which donated $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Club at a time when non-profit needs it the most. In normal tines, the organization serves some 8,000 kids at four main facilities and 65 satellite facilities, but today because of the coronavirus, it is serving a little over 100 children as well as providing lunches for 1,000 others daily.

 * ... MUST SEE TV: If you want to keep up with the coronavirus, it's wise to tune into the daily press briefings by President Trump and his crisis team, the briefings by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and locally, Maddie Janssen and Dr. Hemmal Kothary on the KGET morning show. Kothary is a breath of fresh air: authoritative, calm and a straight shooter. Kudos for KGET for locking down Kothary for this important daily segment.

 * ... BAD FORM: I suppose it's good to see people wearing face masks and rubber gloves during this crisis, but is it too much to ask them to discard them properly. In parking lots across town, people are unceremoniously discarding their gloves in the parking lots. Go figure.

 * ... WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A TEACHER: Listen to Jolie Brouttier, a first grader teacher at the Downtown Elementary school, on how we should view this time when our children are out of school. Words of wisdom from a teacher who cares: "Whether this lasts two more weeks or two more months, do not worry---we will get your kids caught up. It is our job; it’s what we are trained to do. Don’t worry if you are not the perfect homeschooling parent; don’t worry if you are torn between working at home and helping your kids. Don’t let these days be joyless for your kids. Twenty years from now, your children will not remember what they learned during the spring of 2020---honestly, they won’t. They WILL remember the time they stayed home with you (or with whomever is caring for them) for a few weeks. They will tell their own children about feeling safe, and loved, and peaceful during an anxious time. They will remember the fun things you did with them. Do what is most important for your family these days."

 * ... HOMELESS: If you notice an increase in homeless encampments along the Kern River, there is a reason for it. Adhering to some new national recommendations, authorities are not disturbing the homeless as long as they are not in dense public settings. That's the word from Jim Wheeler, executive director of Flood Ministries, who questioned the wisdom of breaking up homeless camps and dispersing the homeless in established neighborhoods at a time when  the coronavirus poses such a threat to the general public.

 * ... TRAFFIC (OR LACK THEREOF) When was the last time you saw the 405 this empty. According to a Facebook post, this picture was taken early Monday morning.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these contrasting pictures from the bottom of the Grapevine, complements of Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Kern County's coronavirus toll reaches 50 (with one dead) and are the numbers getting ready to explode? Plus non profits struggle during the community lockdown and bocce ball is coming to the park along the Panorama Bluffs

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other person or organization.

*... CORONAVIRUS: Call it gut instinct, or maybe just a hunch, but does it feel like the coronavirus cases are set to explode here in Kern County? Anecdotally we have all heard the stories that we
cannot confirm: a prominent member of our community is in bad shape at a local hospital, a friend of a friend was exposed after a trip to New York and is now sick, two more people are on death's doorstep. The local numbers are spiking and to be fair, this was expected as testing became more widespread. But there is also a  sense that this is now something real, something scary, and something that can happen here. Stay home, we tell ourselves. How silly we were two, three weeks ago when we thought this was something that could not happen here.? In this way Bakersfield is not much different than any other American town that lives in the shadow on the great cities of this nation, but it is now our turn to share the burden of this deadly virus. As reported in The New York Times, smaller communities across the country are now the emerging hot spots, places like Greenville, Miss., Pine Bluff, Ark. and Albany, Ga. Said The Times: "This week, cities and states that had no known cases of coronavirus not long ago have seen the infection's sudden, intense arrival."

 * ... ANOTHER VICTIM: A 19-year old from Shafter has become one of he latest coronavirus victims in Kern County. According to KGET, Joel Herrera says he was diagnosed with the virus last Thursday. KGET said Herrera works at a pharmacy and believes he could have contracted the virus there. He currently is at home recovering. No other family members have been tested. “It feels like the regular flu, you know. It doesn’t feel like anything else, [it doesn’t feel] like something you can’t beat. It’s a flu, that’s how I see it,” he told KGET. There are now at least 50 people who have tested positive in Kern County and one person has died from it.

* ... NON PROFITS: Kern County is blessed with some terrific non-profits, all of which have a few things in common: they run lean, hand-to-mouth operations that depend on the generosity of the public, and they are never far from turning the lights off if their donations tank. So what effect will the coronavirus have on their ability to raise money and keep the doors open? Heading into the prime spring fund raising season, things look bleak. Fund raisers are being canceled, programs put on ice and those who run the non-profits are praying all of this passes soon. Said the New York Times: "Crucial fund raisers and conferences have been canceled or moved to less lucrative online venues. Donors are stretched in many directions, preoccupied with their own problems and much less flush than they were two months ago. Nonprofits that are paid by local governments said new rules against large gatherings were making their services impossible to deliver, placing their existence at risk." Well, we can't do anything but the coronavirus, but we can decide today which non-profit is near to our hearts and we can write them a check. This shouldn't be hard because there are plenty worthy of our largess: CASA, the Boys and Girls Club, League of Dreams, St. Vincent du Paul Homeless Center, the Red Cross, any one of the slew of cat and dog rescue organizations,  the Golden Empire Gleaners, the Bakersfield Homeless Center, the Mission of Kern County, the Kern County Museum, the Bakersfield Museum of Art and more.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Waiting for the government to ban gatherings of more than 4 people so I don’t have to go home."

 * ... LOCAL RESTAURANTS: When was the last time you supported your favorite local restaurant by grabbing a meal to go? I put that question to my listeners on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM and here are some of the restaurants that folks said they would visit this weekend: Mexicali, Burger Factory, La Mina, Angry Barnyard, Leo's, Hodel's, Uricchio's Trattoria, the 18Hundred, Luigi's, Mossman's, Los Tacos on Olive Drive, Frugatti's. Aunt Mae's, Los Mocaljetes, Zorba's, Bill Lee's, Lam's Chinese, Red Pepper, New Vintage Grill, Tina Marie's, Ruben's on Gosford and the Burger Factory.

 * ... BOCCE BALL: Have you heard of bocce ball? It's a type of lawn bowling game popular in Europe that is coming soon to the park along the Panorama Bluffs. Kern County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop said several bocce ball courts are being built now, offering yet another alternative for the thousands of people who use the park for early morning or afternoon recreation.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Facebook page Kern County History Fans comes this: