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Yesenia Amaro

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Current treatments for valley fever can take so long to work that they allow the disease to spread, becoming more damaging and more deadly. What can be done?

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Valley Fever affects each of its victims differently. Here, three patients share how the disease has deeply affected their lives and their families.

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A group of journalists plans to tackle a large community health problem in California -- Valley Fever, also known by its more technical name, coccidioidomycosis or “cocci.” Their reporting will dig deep into the trends, the costs, the science, the funding and the policy responses to the disease.

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Some local entrepreneurs have been stunned because they failed to meet all the rules for the small-business tax credits in last year's highly vaunted federal health care law to help cover their health care costs.

Despite their disappointment, they're hopeful that another part of the law, which kicks in three years from now, is well worth waiting for.

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Journalist Yesenia Amaro examines how some small businesses will cope with health reform as their health costs for workers continue to soar.

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Janna Rodriguez, one of the owners of J&R Tacos in Merced, wants to learn more about the specific provisions in the federal health care law designed to help small businesses such as hers. Her restaurant, which opened almost five years ago, employs eight part-time employees — and none of them receive health care benefits.

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From greener school lunches to required nutritional information printed on fast-food menus, it's clear that state and federal governments are urging Americans to take control of their health -- starting with food. This is part four in a four-part series.

Part one: Convenience often trumps nutrition

Part two: Committed to nutrition

Part three: Providing healthier choices

 

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In an effort to promote healthier eating habits among students, Merced County school officials are eliminating foods high in fat from school meal offerings and replacing them with fruits, vegetables and other nutritious alternatives. This is part three in a four-part series.

Part one: Convenience often trumps nutrition

Part two: Committed to nutrition

Part four: No escape from healthy lifestyle effort

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Candy bars, Pop-Tarts and french fries were always on the menu in Ruth Sanchez's daily diet.

For years, the 17-year-old consistently made poor eating choices. "Fast food is what I would eat the most," she recalled.

Ruth, a former Merced Scholars Charter School student, said the two main reasons she turned to fast food were because it was affordable and easy to get.

"You are on the run, and you are going to get something from the $1 menu," she explained. "It's quick and it's the cheapest."

Not only did Ruth, who weighs 183 pounds, make the wrong choices when it came to eating, she also didn't live an active life.

That's no longer the case. She has made a dramatic change in her habits.

This is part two in a four-part series.

Part one: Convenience often trumps nutrition

Part three: Providing healthier choices

Part four: No escape from healthy lifestyle effort

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Low prices, availability and aggressive targeted marketing are all factors that ensure children and teenagers are eating more fast food than ever before. The Network for a Healthy California is pushing for outdoor advertising that encourages healthier choices. This is part one in a four-part series.

Part two: Committed to nutrition

Part three: Providing healthier choices

Part four: No escape from healthy lifestyle effort

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