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Kern County

Picture of Harold Pierce
Seven-year-old Reba Dimeglio remembers her mother defying evacuation orders to protect her house, armed with nothing more than a green garden hose in her fight to save their home, outlined in an orange glow.
Picture of Mackenzie Mays
Graciela Pacheco's teachers never taught her about sex. She learned most of what she knows from her next-door neighbor — a 15-year-old boy she met when she was 12 — who would become the father of her child.
Picture of Kellie  Schmitt
“What you’re hearing is that the pain killer problem has turned into a heroin problem,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny said. “That makes for a good story, but that isn’t really what’s going on.”
Picture of Harold Pierce
Valley fever killed six Kern County residents in 2016 and infected 1,905 others, a 62 percent surge over the number infected the year prior. Officials are launching a new billboard campaign to raise awareness of the risks.
Picture of Kerry Klein
The shortage of doctors in California’s San Joaquin Valley has long impacted Central Californians in a very real way. Will efforts to combat the shortage make a difference?
Picture of Harold Pierce
An invisible disease has been killing middle-aged white people in the San Joaquin Valley at higher rates than ever before. One doctor calls them "deaths of despair."
Picture of Harold Pierce
A Phoenix-based laboratory is capturing detailed images of the fungus that causes valley fever, hoping to better understand how it works.
Picture of Harold Pierce
Valley fever is a fungal respiratory infection that is a constant health threat in vast stretches of the San Joaquin valley. 
Picture of Kerry Klein
Richard Nuwintore's sentence in the California prison system has ended, but the valley fever infection he picked up while doing time is a life sentence. The state is now working to lower the risk for inmates.
Picture of Harold Pierce
“Valley fever is almost certainly underreported, due to physicians and the public not being familiar with the disease,” said one infectious disease specialist. Reliable estimates of valley fever cases are still lacking.

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The USC Center for Health Journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is seeking two Engagement Editors to serve as thought leaders in one of the most innovative and rewarding arenas in journalism today – “engaged reporting” that puts the community at the center of the reporting process. Learn more about the positions and apply to join our team.

Nowhere was the massive COVID wave of winter 2021 more devastating than in America’s nursing homes, where 71,000 residents died in the surge. In this webinar, we’ll hear from the lead reporter in the USA Today series "Dying for Care," who will show how an original data analysis and an exhaustive reporting effort revealed a pattern of unnecessary deaths that compounded the pandemic’s brutal toll. Sign-up here!

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