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With community centers closed, city considers cooling shelter alternatives

News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — The City of Fresno provides cooling shelters in its community centers on days when temperatures reach 105 or warmer.

Excessive heat poses a risk to health. City of Fresno communications director Mark Standriff says, “A lot of the cooling centers tend to attract folks who are in that vulnerable age group of 65 plus.  They’re looking for relief and we’re trying to find ways to actually provide that for them.”

Of course, COVID-19 is also a health risk, posing a critical issue in using community centers for cooling shelters. Standriff says, “They’re still part of Phase 3 for the governor and as far as the reopening road map he hasn’t gotten there yet. And so our challenge is we can’t open community centers at all because again everything we know about COVID-19 says the biggest danger as far as transmission are people in close proximity over a long period of time.”

Preparations for this heatwave began with contacting the state. “We’ve reached out to them because of the fact that we knew that there was this heatwave coming up but unfortunately right now community centers are still in stage three.”

“We’d have to eliminate the sharing of any materials like board games or basketballs and other athletic equipment for the kids that might be inside.  We’d also have to provide for bottled water because you couldn’t share the faucets of the drinking fountains.”

Plans include the possibility of some new options, too. “We might be able to provide transportation to other areas, even the possibility of cooling tents but again they’re still not as comfortable as being inside in the air conditioning.”

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