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Fresno County

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A national ranking system has for years given Fresno County’s health a failing grade. At the county’s inaugural “state of the health” breakfast on Friday, health leaders vowed to change that.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, we reported that the premature birth rate in the San Joaquin Valley is rising, and that it’s especially high in Fresno County. The numbers are concerning because premature babies are born with a higher risk of health complications like breathing difficulties, heart problems and chronic disease. Decades of work have proven preterm births are tough to prevent, but a new research initiative appears to be up for the challenge. This story begins, though, in a Fresno living room, where a mother and son enjoy some quiet time together.

Flickr user Robert Valencia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For the second year in a row, California’s rate of premature births has increased. But according to new data, the trend is even more alarming in the San Joaquin Valley.

Across California, 8.6 percent of live births are premature, according to the health advocacy organization March of Dimes. That means they were born before 37 weeks of gestation. The group gave the state a B on its annual premature birth report card. Of the 15 counties ranked in the report card, Fresno County scored the worst, with a prematurity rate of over 10%. Both Fresno and Kern Counties earned a C.

Flickr User Sharyn Morrow

Recently, you may have heard a startling statistic: drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents. For some years, the same holds true here in the San Joaquin Valley. The lion’s share of those overdoses are from opioids—street drugs and heavy-duty painkillers either derived from opium or made in a lab. Now, health officials are trying to prevent the problem from becoming worse.


Health organizations in Fresno County today announced a new initiative to reduce premature births. 

Right now, 11.1 percent of births in the county occur earlier than 37 weeks—that‘s far more than the state average of 8.3 percent. The new initiative, a collaboration between Fresno State, UC San Francisco, Fresno County and other groups and agencies, endeavors to reduce that to only 7 percent by the year 2025.

Sandra Flores of Fresno State is the director of the initiative.

Jeffrey Hess

October is domestic violence awareness month, a time police and advocates have set aside to highlight how common intimate partner violence is and encourage people to seek help. It’s acutely problematic in Fresno County, where authorities receive a shockingly high number of calls reporting domestic violence. That left our news team wondering: Why?

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A sales tax that for over a decade has helped fund much of the budget for the Fresno County Public Library system appears to be headed to approval. 

While some absentee ballots remain to be counted, Measure B holds a lead of 72-percent to 28-percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. That's well above the two-thirds vote required for passage.