Appliance Repair in Merced, CA

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Whatever appliance repair issue you're stressed over, there's no problem too big or small for our team to handle. At Appliance Service Plus, we offer a total package of quality service, fair prices, friendly customer service, and effective fixes. Unlike some appliance companies in Merced, our technicians are trained rigorously and undergo extensive background checks. We work with all major appliances and are capable of GE appliance repair, Maytag appliance repair, Frigidaire appliance repair, and more.

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Latest News in Merced, CA

Merced shatters April heat records. Is cooler weather on the way? Here’s the forecast

For anyone feeling like it’s unseasonably warm in Merced this week, you’re not imagining things.In fact, the region broke heat records Thursday — with weather projected to ascend to another new, hotter high this afternoon.This week’s record-shattering temperatures were last set April 7 and 8, 1989, at 90 and 91 degrees, respectively, according to the National Weather Service. Merced heat on Thursday rose past that decades-long high to 92 degrees. Friday is projected to reach 94 degrees.“If t...

For anyone feeling like it’s unseasonably warm in Merced this week, you’re not imagining things.

In fact, the region broke heat records Thursday — with weather projected to ascend to another new, hotter high this afternoon.

This week’s record-shattering temperatures were last set April 7 and 8, 1989, at 90 and 91 degrees, respectively, according to the National Weather Service. Merced heat on Thursday rose past that decades-long high to 92 degrees. Friday is projected to reach 94 degrees.

“If the forecast stays on track, which it should, we should definitely break that record,” said Jim Dudley, a meteorologist with the NWS’s Hanford office.

Other communities around the Central Valley saw similar heatwaves. Bakersfield on Thursday broke its 1989 record of 96 degrees, while Fresno, Madera and Hanford each tied their all-time highs. Madera and Hanford are projected to break records again Friday, according to the NWS.

It’s not just the Valley that’s experiencing irregularly hot temperatures, but much of California from the coasts to the Sierra Mountains.

Thursday and Friday’s heat is liquefying snow in the Sierras, causing what’s left of the snowpack to melt faster. Statewide snowpack is currently at 26% of normal, according to state water watch data.

The weather service is projecting a storm to arrive next week that could bring 3-6 inches of snow Monday and Tuesday. “That will add a little bit (of snow) back, but it’s melting off at a pretty good rate right now,” Dudley said.

California this year saw its driest ever January, February and March on record, state data shows. All of the state is experiencing varying levels of drought. In Merced, no rain has fallen so far in April.

While that is projected to change come next week’s storm, precipitation is estimated by the NWS to amount to only .10 inches.

“I wouldn’t really call it much of a storm,” Dudley said. “I wish it was more.”

Since Jan. 1, Merced has received just .90 inches of rain, falling notably short of average conditions, which measure at 6.73 inches.

Although the coming storm isn’t expected to bring much precipitation, it will beckon cooler temperatures.

Friday is projected to be the last day of the heatwave, with Saturday’s highs dropping by about 10 degrees. Sunday is expected to reach only 75 degrees — a more normal temperature threshold for this time of year, according to the NWS. By Monday, the weather is likely to turn rainy and hit just 65 degrees.

“Essentially, we’re going from a summer-like situation today all the way back to a winter-type low,” Dudley said.

This story was originally published April 8, 2022 1:11 PM.

Bugs in meals? Under-cooked food? Some UC Merced students say campus cuisine unsafe to eat

Some students at UC Merced say the meals served at the campus’ pavilion dining center aren’t just low quality — they’re unhealthy and potentially a safety issue.The Sun-Star spoke with several students who say undercooked meat, rotten food, and even insects in meals are just a few of the food-related problems on campus.An Instagram account was created in September to highlight problems with the food serve...

Some students at UC Merced say the meals served at the campus’ pavilion dining center aren’t just low quality — they’re unhealthy and potentially a safety issue.

The Sun-Star spoke with several students who say undercooked meat, rotten food, and even insects in meals are just a few of the food-related problems on campus.

An Instagram account was created in September to highlight problems with the food served to students at the UC Merced pavilion.

The photos on the site show meat gone bad, insects in salads, hair in food, raw chicken tenders, partially-cooked fish, and a fingernail clipping in cake, among other images of inedible-looking meals.

The Instagram site also has a link to an environmental health consumer complaint form on the Merced County website.

Some students have started making complaints about what they describe as bad management and poor food quality.

“There’s been student reports of undercooked meat, such as chicken, or rotting produce, and we think that’s unacceptable,” said Josue Herrera, a sophomore political science major at UC Merced.

“I’ve had chicken where I’m like, ‘Is this fully cooked?’ Or the batter doesn’t seem as crispy as it should be. We just want to get attention about this because it’s been neglected for far too long.”

Herrera said he’s talked to dozens of students who complained of getting sick after eating the food served to them at the pavilion.

And those meals don’t come cheap. One student can pay anywhere from $4,380 to $5,912 each school year for the meal plan alone, according to the UC Merced residential meal plans website.

One post on the Instagram page shows a March 11, 2022 post of a maggot on a food container, allegedly served to a student who ate at the campus pavilion.

“I haven’t seen it personally, but there is a report,” Herrera said. “We want students to talk to the workers. There needs to be an investigation into where the funds are going and who’s making what decisions. ”

Other students, like Noah Vasquez, a sophomore economics major, said students need to be very careful to examine their food, particularly if they are in a hurry.

“Every time you’re coming to eat here, you’re almost taking a risk,” Vasquez said. “Just be careful. Scan your food and really check it before you eat it. Some people come to the pav, and they’re in a rush to get to their next class, and they rush and just eat it really quick. That’s really not the way to go.”

Administrators at UC Merced issued a statement Monday about the students’ complaints about the campus food, saying they’ve asked state inspectors to step in.

“We are aware of concerns raised by some students about specific meals,” said James A. Chiavelli II, assistant vice chancellor of external relations, in the statement.

“The Pavilion, of course, undergoes and passes daily, weekly and monthly inspections by our Environmental Health and Safety officials. Based on these recently expressed student concerns, we have asked the California Department of Public Health to conduct its own review.”

Despite student concerns about food quality at the pavilion, some staff at UC Merced who frequently eat in the pavilion said they’ve never seen undercooked meat or bugs in the food they’ve been served.

Some voiced skepticism about the credibility of some of the photos posted to the Instagram page. “I eat here regularly, and I’m not wasting away,” Chiavelli told the Sun-Star on Monday. “The chancellor eats here a couple of times a week, and he’s doing pretty well.”

But, he added, “We’re always looking for ways to improve.”

Student leaders on campus are aware of the issues in the pavilion and sat down with school officials in the last few months to discuss the problem and solutions to eliminating subpar food being served to students.

“We were told big changes were coming for this semester,” said Jorge Rodriguez-Mota, student body president at UC Merced. “It’s been very frustrating that (administration) is failing in their promises to deliver better food quality to students. It’s a very prevalent problem.”

Students at UC Merced who have worked in various capacities for the school — including in jobs where they prepared, handled, or served food — say there were problems with managers in food service positions not knowing how to properly cook food.

At one point last semester, one student said, chefs served chicken tenders raw.

“They had students cooking, and they had storage issues,” said Edgar Almazan, a UC Merced student who also worked for the university. “They don’t package or seal stuff correctly.”

Almazan added he witnessed multiple incidents of pavilion staff not thoroughly cooking meals that included raw meat and serving rotten produce. Bugs were a common problem, too, he said.

“When I was working, they had a huge fly problem every time,” Almazan said. “I would swat at all of them and kill multiple flies every shift.”

A Change.org petition started by an anonymous student three months ago, asking the university to improve the sub-par food or offer refunds, has collected more than 400 signatures of its 500 signature goal. Also, students involved in the campus student government organization started collecting data in November drawn from student responses about the food quality at the pavilion.

Comments from students collected by student government representatives also include complaints of hair in the food, food poisoning, meat that is pink and uncooked in the middle, and rotten food.

Comments that don’t point to serious food issues include a push for more vegan options, fresh produce, a greater variety of options, less fried food, hamburgers, and hot dogs, and the elimination of greasy food.

Students hope that administrators will start doing temperature checks before serving food to ensure meals are properly cooked and closely monitor and process food before it’s made available for consumption.

Student leaders are still pushing for chefs, dining service managers, and university administrators to do better for students, especially those who live on-campus who are required to have a meal plan.

“As somebody who’s worked in the fast-food industry, that’s a big thing,” Vasquez said.

“You cut open a piece of the chicken in the batch to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. I feel like that’s maybe the main problem in the process of cooking – that’s how I would see raw meat getting rushed through.”

This story was originally published March 15, 2022 9:34 AM.

‘It’s a mess for everybody.’ Merced Highway 99 construction means big issues for drivers

Merced County residents who’ve driven on Highway 99 this week have probably noticed a few changes that are causing them to pay a little closer attention to the road.The California Department of Transportation says work has started on a $61.8 million pavement rehabilitation and guardrail installation project on Highway 99 through Merced.That’s causing northbound traffic on the highway to narrow to one lane through some stretches.About 20 miles of Highway 99 is affected by the construction, according to the Cal...

Merced County residents who’ve driven on Highway 99 this week have probably noticed a few changes that are causing them to pay a little closer attention to the road.

The California Department of Transportation says work has started on a $61.8 million pavement rehabilitation and guardrail installation project on Highway 99 through Merced.

That’s causing northbound traffic on the highway to narrow to one lane through some stretches.

About 20 miles of Highway 99 is affected by the construction, according to the Caltrans press release, between Franklin Road and Childs Avenue.

As of Sunday, drivers in the left lane of Highway 99 northbound have had to cross into the center median and continue driving north in the southbound lane from Childs Avenue to Bear Creek. The lane change is expected to continue through this November.

“We just started implementing a traffic split, and when you have to repave the (No. 1) and the (No. 2) lane, and you need to keep two lanes open, then you’ve got to be able to split that traffic somehow,” said Skip Allen, Caltrans public information officer. “The challenge is through that area, you have a lot of bridges, and you aren’t always able to keep two lanes open.”

During this time, Caltrans officials said, cars driving northbound on this stretch of Highway 99 will drive between concrete barriers for five miles, and won’t be able to enter or exit the highway.

The right lane will be open during the daytime so drivers can enter and exit the highway. All northbound ramps between Childs Avenue and Bear Creek will be closed until November.

Drivers can still get to downtown Merced from Highway 99 northbound, but will have to use the Childs Avenue exit and turn right on Childs.

Big rigs and large commercial vehicles are also asked to take Childs Avenue off the highway to get to downtown Merced, but turn left once off the highway.

“Traffic is definitely going to be slower,” said Officer Eric Zuniga, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol.

“It’s a mess for everybody right now. The roadways are very narrow, so it’s harder to go to the shoulders because we have no shoulders there,” Zuniga added.

Zuniga said drivers should pay attention to their speed and to traffic signs along the highway. Drivers should also keep in mind that big rig drivers are likely going to get in more crashes because they’re not driving in the slow lane, he said.

“We’re all in it together,” Zuniga said. “Crashes are definitely going to go up, but I just want people to know most of the crashes are from going too fast in construction zones or following too close.”

Local drivers trying to go northbound on Highway 99 should use the 16th Street on-ramp, although all lanes and ramps on Highway 99 southbound between Childs Avenue and Bear Creek will stay open.

After construction is done on Highway 99 northbound, work will start on the southbound side of the highway.

The southbound construction project doesn’t yet have a start date. The project also includes repairing and replacing asphalt dikes and curbs, adding shoulder backing, replacing metal beam guardrails, upgrading terminal sections, and placing bridge approach and departure slabs, according to the press release.

An estimated 62,000 motorists use this stretch of Highway 99 every day, according to Caltrans, including 12,400 truckers a day.

“Please be patient,” Zuniga said. “We’re trying to improve the roadways through Merced County, but it does take time. They’re out there trying to make the roads better.”

This story was originally published March 10, 2022 1:13 PM.

Merced County school district sues Dow and Shell over cancer-causing chemical in water

The Ballico-Cressey School District, a small school district in a rural stretch of northern Merced County, is suing corporate giants Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.The lawsuit, filed on March 30 in Merced County Superior Court, alleges that the big companies manufactured and sold agricultural fumigants containing the toxic chemical 1,2,3-TCP, or 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, that were sprayed on nearby fields surrounding the school district, polluting Cressey Elementary School’s water supply.“This is an effort to hold these c...

The Ballico-Cressey School District, a small school district in a rural stretch of northern Merced County, is suing corporate giants Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.

The lawsuit, filed on March 30 in Merced County Superior Court, alleges that the big companies manufactured and sold agricultural fumigants containing the toxic chemical 1,2,3-TCP, or 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, that were sprayed on nearby fields surrounding the school district, polluting Cressey Elementary School’s water supply.

“This is an effort to hold these companies accountable,” said Kenneth Sansone, attorney at SL Environmental Law Group who is representing the school district. “We want to make sure the companies who created the mess and profited from it are the ones who pay to clean it up.”

The Ballico-Cressey School District is seeking damages and other relief associated with the dangerous chemical found in Shell Oil’s and Dow Chemical’s agricultural sprays, according to the complaint. The complaint also asks for Dow and Shell to pay “an amount sufficient to punish manufacturer defendants and to deter them from ever committing the same or similar acts.”

According to a press release issued on April 5 about the lawsuit, more than 70 communities, utility providers and water service agencies have sued Dow, Shell and other companies that made or sold pesticides containing TCP. In the last year, three other school districts in the San Joaquin Valley sued Shell and Dow, including the McSwain Unified Elementary School District, the Selma Unified School District and Manteca Unified School District.

“The taxpayers of the Ballico-Cressey School District should not be forced to pay to clean up water pollution caused by defective products that made Dow and Shell millions and millions of dollars,” said Bliss Propes, the superintendent of the Ballico-Cressey School District. “This lawsuit will help to hold these corporations accountable for the damage their TCP-contaminated pesticides have caused to one of the community’s most precious resources.”

The press release goes on to allege that TCP was a waste product of other chemicals manufactured by Dow and Shell. Products containing TCP were marketed and sold as pesticides until the 1980s and used throughout the state to control nematodes, or microscopic worms that infest the roots of plants. These pesticides were injected into the soil, and the TCP would make its way through the soil to the water table below, contaminating water supplies.

The Ballico-Cressey complaint also goes on to say that the companies that manufactured the dangerous chemical and the pesticides that contained it knew how dangerous 1,2,3-TCP was, or at least should have known. The Ballico-Cressey School District also alleges that the manufacturers of the chemical should have known how dangerous TCP would be to drinking water supplies, specifically. Representatives of Shell and Dow could not be reached for comment.

The chemical was designated an unregulated contaminant after it was discovered at a hazardous waste site in Burbank in the 1990s, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Studies showed that 1,2,3-TCP causes cancer in lab animals and is a carcinogen, or cancer-causing chemical, in humans, as well.

1,2,3-TCP is also known to cause blood disorders and liver and kidney damage, according to the civil complaint. The state water board subsequently started to require a drinking water notification level of .005 micrograms per liter for 1,2,3-TCP in 1999, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

The state also started to require monitoring of the chemical in drinking water sources once it was found to have polluted multiple drinking water sources across the state. The civil complaint states the California Office of Environmental Health limit for 1,2,3-TCP is 7 parts per trillion, although the state water board set the maximum contaminant level at 5 parts per trillion. At 5-9 parts per trillion, the well tested near Cressey Elementary School has more than the allowable amount of the chemical by these measures.

“The manufacturers of TCP products had a duty – and breached their duty – to evaluate and test such products adequately and thoroughly to determine their environmental fate and potential human health and environmental impacts before they produced and sold such products,” the complaint reads. “As a result of these failures, TCP contaminated, and continues to contaminate, the drinking water supply of the plaintiff’s water system.”

This isn’t the first time the San Joaquin Valley pushed back on TCP in pesticides made and sold by the corporate behemoths. Atwater city officials found 1,2,3-TCP in some of the city’s wells in 2019, and cleanup efforts started almost immediately.

That was also the year Atwater won $63 million in net settlement proceeds from Shell and Dow because the two companies didn’t disclose that TCP was contained in nematicide, the pesticide used to kill nematodes. Nematicide was often used on agricultural fields near Atwater. New systems to filter out the chemical were completed in August 2021.

Livingston, too, got a windfall in 2011 from a $9 million settlement from Dow Chemical, Dow AgroSciences, Shell Oil Co. and Wilbur Ellis Co. That lawsuit was filed in 2005 after it was discovered that Livingston’s wells were contaminated with TCP. The city later installed a $2.3 million filtration system.

The Ballico-Cressey School District owns and operates its own water system, and after school officials started testing for 1,2,3-TCP in their wells, found 5-9 parts per trillion of the chemical in one of their wells – what amounts to a few grains of sand in an Olympic-sized pool, the district’s lawyer said.

However, such a seemingly small amount can do a lot of damage.

“The problem with contaminants in drinking water in a well is that generally, people are going to be drinking large quantities of water from that well over time,” Sansone said. “So aggregate amounts of contaminants in those people is a concern.”

This chemical doesn’t just go away, either, Sansone said. TCP doesn’t deteriorate or dissipate quickly over time, even in water.

“Once TCP gets into the groundwater, it would be expected to stay there for a very long time,” Sansone said. “The only way it will come out or be diminished is if it is pumped out of the water supply. We’ve seen cases that can take as many as 30 or 40 years just for TCP to reach the water table after application.”

To filter out the carcinogen after the 2018 testing, Ballico-Cressey school officials installed drinking water filters in the water fountains at Cressey Elementary School, which is located near the well where 1,2,3-TCP was found – what Sansone calls a short-term solution.

“The district plans on installing a specialized water treatment system to remove TCP from the entire water supply at the school,” Sansone told the Sun-Star.

The water treatment system is the district’s long-term solution, Sansone said. It is estimated to cost $1 million, and the district is already working with an engineering firm on the design of the system. However, full implementation is still “far down the road,” Sansone said.

Sansone added one of the best resolutions for the district and the companies in the case would be to settle, although whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

“At this point, it’s difficult to say,” Sansone said. “We’re just getting started.”

This story was originally published April 6, 2022 5:00 AM.

Two years of COVID in Merced County. What lessons have been learned — and what’s ahead?

Two years have passed since Merced County reported its first case of COVID-19 — a global pandemic with hyper-local impacts that have largely defined life since early 2020.As regions throughout California reported their first infections, Merced County was one of the state’s last to have a confirmed case. Businesses and offices closed down while local health professionals, government officials and residents alike held their collective breath waiting for the virus’s inevitable arrival.“It very rapidly start...

Two years have passed since Merced County reported its first case of COVID-19 — a global pandemic with hyper-local impacts that have largely defined life since early 2020.

As regions throughout California reported their first infections, Merced County was one of the state’s last to have a confirmed case. Businesses and offices closed down while local health professionals, government officials and residents alike held their collective breath waiting for the virus’s inevitable arrival.

“It very rapidly started impacting us in our lives in Merced County, but we were one of the last counties to have a confirmed case,” County Epidemiologist Dr. Kristynn Sullivan said. “There was a lot of fear back then”

The community’s first case was finally reported by the Merced County Department of Public Health on March 22, 2020 — contracted by a resident who had been on spring break in Florida.

That initial infection was confirmed amid a time of heavy restrictions on businesses, limited testing, no available vaccine and mass uncertainty about which measures were most effective in combating the virus.

Two years later, much has changed. The restrictions on businesses have been lifted for quite some time, although mask mandates and capacity caps are enforced at some locations.

Several COVID-19 testing options are readily available, from home kits to testing sites throughout the county. Many residents are protected against the virus by vaccines scientifically proven to be safe and effective. Knowledge around pandemic best-practices has evolved to show the success of social distancing and wearing an adequate mask.

“Looking back, its just mind boggling how far we’ve come and how different things are,” Sullivan said.

Still, the toll on the Merced County community is evident in the 805 known lives lost because of the virus. The emotional toll due to loss, isolation and the general worldwide disruption inflicted by the pandemic is there too, albeit less easy to measure.

Getting Merced County vaccinated has been a challenge since the vaccine rollout started in early 2021.

Local public health officials said the process began with a frustrating and demoralizing launch. The county received the second-lowest per-capita vaccine allocation while having the fifth-highest death rate, Sullivan said.

Only healthcare workers and the vulnerable populations were eligible for the vaccine at the time. County health officials said the state favored areas with higher numbers of healthcare professionals, putting Merced County at a disadvantage due to its low number of health providers per capita.

Although vaccines are widely available now, the county never caught up to other parts of the state. Just over 52% of eligible Merced County residents are vaccinated compared to over 74% statewide.

Sullivan said she believes the county had wide interest in vaccination at first, but starting out with too little product caused a window of opportunity to close.

Vaccine hesitancy has played a role locally for a number of other reasons, including misinformation about its safety and historic mistreatment of people of color by the medical community at the national level.

Watching the scientific process play out in real time proved frustrating to many citizens who watched recommendations course-correct as researchers learned more.

“We got a lot of things right, but we got some things wrong,” Sullivan said. The pandemic, she hopes, has been an opportunity to improve communication with the public and do better, given the odds of a future public health emergency. “I’m hopeful COVID has been an opportunity to highlight some gaps in our system that we than have an opportunity to fix and address.”

Merced pediatrician Dr. Sima Asadi reiterated Sullivan in voicing the importance of messaging. Asadi has been crucial in working with residents to understand — and ameliorate their fears of — the COVID-19 vaccine.

“To me, people should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s dictated. I think we’ve learned a lot,” Asadi said.

Asadi and Sullivan each said the pandemic galvanized County Public Health to come together with local medical professionals, city and county leadership, local schools and state-level representatives like never before. That collective dedication has set a new precedent for serving the community, they said.

Fostering community togetherness amid a time of isolation was Merced Mayor Matt Serratto’s mission when he started his first term mid-pandemic in December 2020.

Serratto witnessed firsthand the division the pandemic has created in his community, often deepening political lines.

“I think people are resentful of the pandemic, they’re resentful of the damage it inflicted,” he said. But residents also leveraged those feelings to do right by their community through volunteering, charitable work and helping those in need. “Like any crisis, a lot of people really step up and act heroically.”

Over a year into his term, humility, compromise and striking a balancing act between extremes are the takeaways Serratto has learned while leading a city amid COVID-19.

“When the dust settles from all this and you see the toll this has taken, you see the death toll. On the other side you see the economy, the mental health, the education toll,” he said.

Asadi has advocated for a balanced approach in combating the virus. A vocal proponent for keeping kids in in-person school when safe, Asadi says weighing the social and emotional costs against extreme precautions against COVID-19 is the best way to minimize harm.

“The more you do all that, I think we stand a chance of handling this better and making fewer mistakes,” she said. “I feel like we’re starting to turn a corner.”

To further turn that corner, Asadi said people should refrain from thinking of catching the virus in terms of morality or blame. Contracting COVID-19 too often takes on stigma, she noted.

“You can be a good person and you can follow all the rules and you can do everything right, but it’s a virus,” Asadi said. “We have to understand that the virus does its job. And this virus does its job very well.”

Although the world is still battling surges like winter’s highly contagious omicron variant spike, looking back adds perspective. Two years ago Asadi, like many others, was scared for her life. To protect her mother, she went almost a year without seeing her.

Now, Merced County residents are equipped with the tools to protect themselves while resuming many of the things that brighten life. Asadi, for example, said she will see her mother next week.

Although Sullivan says she’s given up on making predictions about the unpredictable virus’s future, she cautioned against viewing the current lull in cases as indefinite.

“It is easy to think COVID is completely over and in our rear view mirror. And we have thought that before,” she said. “At the end of the day, COVID-19 is a virus and virus’s one and only job is to evolve and infect people. Our feelings on it aren’t going to make COVID go away.”

Although Sullivan isn’t making any predictions, a glance at the county’s case dashboard shows a consistent pattern of summer and winter surges.

Her hope is that those surges will get smaller, more manageable and less severe with the emergence of widespread vaccination and testing — tools that allow residents to live their lives while preventing cases from overwhelming hospitals and losing more community members.

There were several times during the pandemic where Merced County garnered attention beyond the Central Valley.

In May 2020, Atwater’s City Council defied the state by unanimously voting to become a sanctuary city for all businesses and churches to reopen amid lockdown without fear of repercussion from local law enforcement.

The act of resistance drew criticism and praise from the Atwater community, as well as residents throughout California – some of whom traveled from miles away to witness the city’s defiance.

Later, the state Office of Emergency Services informed Atwater that its Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars would be withheld on account of the city’s noncompliance.

The county again garnered attention later that year when the Foster Farms chicken processing facility in Livingston was shut down. The plant was in the middle of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak that led to the deaths of at least eight workers. Statements made by Foster Farms said it followed CDC guidelines.

That outbreak was identified as one of California’s largest occupational fatalities experienced during the pandemic, Merced County Public Health officials said at the time.

This story was originally published March 20, 2022 5:00 AM.

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