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Butte County could end COVID-19 proclamation | Free community college could be expanded | Lassen County woman survives being stranded in snow

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Tuesday April 26.

Emergency COVID-19 proclamation in Butte County could soon end

The Butte County Board of Supervisors will consider ending the COVID-19 emergency proclamation at the request of county staff.

The emergency has been in place since March of 2020. Local officials report the emergency designation enabled the county to get state and federal money to help with recovery.

Now, officials say COVID-19 conditions are within control of normal county services. The board will consider adopting a resolution terminating the local emergency at its meeting today.

As of the last update Thursday, the county reports 408 people have died of COVID-19. Six people were hospitalized. About 56% of eligible Butte County residents are fully vaccinated against the disease.

— Andre Byik, NSPR

New report: Wildfires threaten to make California’s bad air even worse 

California’s air quality is among the worst in the country, and according to a new report, a rising threat comes from wildfires.

The report by the American Lung Association found 98% of Californians live in an area with unhealthy air. That’s a big jump from the country’s average, which is about 40%.

Will Barrett, senior director of clean air advocacy for the association, said vehicles are the biggest source of emissions in California, and ozone pollution as a result. But he said wildfires have caused an uptick in particle pollution.

Barrett said transitioning away from gas-guzzling vehicles could help curb emissions. In terms of wildfire smoke, he said addressing climate change is a bigger part of the conversation than ever.

— CapRadio Staff

Bill would expand eligibility for free community college tuition 

More low-income California residents could soon be eligible to attend community college for two-years, tuition-free. The state Assembly's Higher Education Committee has approved a bill that would expand the California College Promise program, which is currently only open to first-time students.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, co-author of the bill, told committee members this new bill would expand the program to people of any age.

"We just went through a pandemic where many businesses were closed. Small business owners had to shut down. We would want that person in your district to have a free education and have that same opportunity to improve their quality of life like anyone else," Santiago said.

There is currently no organized opposition to the measure. The bill's next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

— CapRadio Staff

Lassen County woman survives days after being stranded in snow

Sheena Gullett, from Little Valley, was found safe last week after being lost in a remote area of Lassen County for six days. The Lassen County Sheriff’s Office reported on their Facebook page that Gullett was able to survive by rationing a pack of yogurt and using snow to stay hydrated.

Gullett was traveling with Justin Lonich, also of Little Valley, on a remote road on April 14 when their car got stuck in heavy snow. The two spent the night in the car, but the battery died the following morning, officials said.

The two then attempted to walk to the nearest town for help, but became separated due to whiteout conditions. According to officials, Lonich was able to hitchhike to Susanville to get help.

Sheriff’s deputies returned to the area where the car was stranded and found Gullett sheltering there. She was evaluated by medical personnel and has returned home.

— Adia White, NSPR

California mayors urge Newsom to extend homeless services program

Mayors from California's 10 biggest cities say they are facing a "fiscal cliff" if the state doesn't extend the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program (HHAP).

The program has provided $2 billion dollars to local jurisdictions over the past two years to spend on shelters and other services for unhoused people.

Stockton Mayor, Kevin Lincoln, said it's important to keep up the momentum cities have already built using these funds.

"These flexible dollars of HHAP funding is going to allow us to continue to be flexible to meet the most critical and fundamental needs of our unsheltered population," he said.

It's unclear whether HHAP will have any allocations in Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised budget which will be released next month.

— CapRadio Staff

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Chico Pallet shelters get first occupant: “Chico’s emergency non-congregate housing site began its operations Monday, opening for the first time as a result of the Warren v. Chico settlement agreement.” — Chico Enterprise-Record
  • Firefighter settles whistleblower lawsuit, gets back pay: “Former Klamath National Forest seasonal firefighter Pedro Rios ended up on the U.S. Forest Service's "do not rehire" list after a 2020 post on social media about what he perceived as the agency's lax COVID-19 rules during the pandemic, which could have endangered the health of his young son.” — Redding Record Searchlight

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Sarah is an award-winning reporter, producer and editor. She’s worked at North State Public Radio for six years and was previously the station’s News Director before leaving to study at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
A graduate of California State University, Chico, Andre Byik is an award-winning journalist who has reported in Northern California since 2012. He joined North State Public Radio in 2020, following roles at the Chico Enterprise-Record and Chico News & Review.
Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.