COVID-19 Special Program

This is NSPR’s special program about the local and regional effects of COVID-19 in the North State.

Originally broadcast each weeknight, as of late July 2020, the show is now weekly — airing Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and rebroadcast at 8:30 a.m. the following day. 

NSPR will continue this special coverage as long as our community needs it. Our mission with this show is to provide accurate news and information about COVID-19 in our region.

Ways to Connect


Jul 15, 2020
UC Davis



Today we’ll hear from UC Davis School of Medicine associate dean Dr. Brad Pollock about what’s working and what isn’t with California’s testing strategy and we’ll hear how to better protect yourself from wildfire smoke this fire season.   


If you have questions or comments for us, leave them on our message line 433-9216 or you can also head to  

For Wednesday, July 15, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio. 

Marc Albert

Preparing for wildfire season includes a lot – creating 50 feet of defensible space around your home, signing up for your counties emergency alert system, having a go bag packed and ready and having an evacuation plan created and rehearsed – but even if you’re not in a high-risk fire zone, there’s also another important health threat we see every year from wildfires that you should consider – smoke. 

And this year officials are saying, it’s really important to defend yourself from it because smoke can reduce the body’s ability to fight infections and viruses — and it can worsen the symptoms of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

To learn more about what you can do to better protect yourself from poor air quality this fire season, NSPR’s Matt Fidler spoke with Jason Mandly, the air quality planner for the Butte County Air Quality District. Matt started off by confessing to Jason that he’d never heard of an air quality planner before.


Jul 14, 2020
Getty Images


Today we’ll get an update from Butte County Superintended of Schools Mary Sakuma to learn about the county’s plans for schools and what they’re envisioning learning could look like when the year starts. We’ll also head to Sierra and Plumas counties to look at how some growers and nonprofits there are working to help meet the increased demand for food during the pandemic.  


If you have questions or comments for us, leave them on our message line at 433-9216 or you can also head to  


For Tuesday, July 14, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio. 

The traditional start of the school year is just weeks away. While the Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are pushing hard for schools to resume, some parents, teachers and others fear that with transmission rates exponentially higher than when in-person instruction ceased in the spring, catastrophe will be the end result. 

To help quantify the risks, understand the precautionary plans and envision what learning will look like next month, NSPR’s Marc Albert reached out to Mary Sakuma, Butte County’s superintendent of schools. His first question: what are the current reopening plans?


Jul 13, 2020
David Paul / Getty Images| NPR

Today we’ll hear about a plan to release 8,000 prisoners amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state, we’ll hear more about what we’ll expect this fire season and we’ll head to Plumas County – to hear what the pandemic has been like for two hotel owners and what they’d like to see from tourists traveling to the area.  


If you have questions or comments for us, leave them on our message line 433-9216 – or you can also head to  


For Monday, July 13, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio. 

Noah Berger / AP Photo

It’s been months since the North State’s last appreciable rain. Grasses and shrubs in the valley and low foothills are already tinder dry. Intense summer is quickly desiccating vegetation higher up. 

As California’s fire season begins in earnest, NSPR’s Marc Albert checked in with Cal Fire Butte County spokesman Rick Carhart about projections that firefighters will be very busy across a wider area than recent years, while COVID-19 idles one of Cal Fire’s key weapons: inmate fire crews. 


Jul 10, 2020
Creative Commons / Flikr


Today we’re focusing on emergency alerts – as we enter fire season – we’ll hear from five different counties in the North State about the type of alerts they use, how often they’re tested and how you can get signed up.  


If you have questions you can submit them through this form or call our message line: 433-9216. 


For Friday, July 10, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio.  


Jul 9, 2020



Today we’ll hear more about how and why a tech CEO in Palo Alto created the unofficial COVID-19 tracker for Butte County. We’ll also learn more about what can be done to better protect those in skilled nursing homes from the coronavirus with Dr. Miriam Nuno, an associate professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis.  


If you have questions for us let us know on our message line at 433-9216 or go to our website at    


For Thursday, July 9, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio.


Jul 8, 2020
AP Photo

Today, we’re digging into the numbers for Butte and Colusa counties – both have shown a significant jump in cases recently. It could lead to a reversal of re-openings if infections and hospitalizations get much higher.


Also, with a week of 100+ degree temperatures forecasted, and several small fires springing up over the last week, we’re going to talk with a predictive services meteorologist to see what can glean about the upcoming season.  


If you have questions for us let us know on our message line at 433-9216 or go to our website at    


For Wednesday, July 8, 2020. This is special coverage from North State Public Radio.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr, Creative Commons

Colusa County successfully avoided becoming a coronavirus hot spot. But the agricultural county, commuting distance from Sacramento, has seen a sharp spike in recent weeks. 

NSPR's Marc Albert spoke recently with Elizabeth Kelly, Director of Colusa County Health and Human Services, asking first for the top-line numbers and concerns.