WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Noelle E.C. Evans

Noelle E. C. Evans is a general assignment reporter/producer for WXXI News with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.

Noelle worked in Quito, Ecuador, for a Venezuelan media organization during a critical time in the country’s history. She has a nuanced understanding of the need for freedom of the press, and is conversational in Spanish.

Noelle is a BBC Grace Wyndham Goldie scholar and has worked with BBC Radio Wales and the BBC World Service. She received her M.A. in International Journalism from Cardiff University in Wales – one of the top ten ranking journalism schools in the UK. Noelle was awarded the university’s USA Excellence Scholarship in 2016.

She began as an intern at WXXI in 2014.

In a matter of three weeks, 49 detainees at an immigration detention center in Batavia tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

One of those detainees, Cristian Diaz Arvelo, said he first heard he had COVID-19 when a guard at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility told him he was moving to another unit within the center.

“Not even the doctors come, just they, one of the officers came: ‘Oh you gonna be moved to a unit,’” Arvelo says. “I asked them why. ‘Oh, you tested positive.’ That’s all they say.” 

Many people with disabilities have been left behind during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester. 

Some senators have some ideas on how to change that. 

Gregg Beratan, the center's director of development, said that an institutional bias in funding for home- and community-based services has forced more people with disabilities into nursing facilities because certain services are only available to them there. 

For the second week in a row, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia has more than tripled in a week. 

Forty-five detainees have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday. That’s more than any other detention facility in the country. 

One of those who tested positive for the coronavirus is a man in his 30s from the Dominican Republic. His attorney, Siana McLean, said he also has asthma and high blood pressure. 

Victor Cortez has worked on dairy farms in New York state for almost 15 years. He currently works on a farm in Wyoming County.

Right now, with the coronavirus, he says everyone’s worried.

“We’re isolated from the population, and we continue working. We haven’t stopped and we keep working,” Cortez says in Spanish. “Our worry is, if we get infected, what would happen to us? What plan is there for us?”

A state agency representing farmers in New York is hopeful a new federal aid package will provide much-needed relief for farmers hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $16 billion dollars for direct support to farmers, and $3.5 billion for a farm-to-food bank program.  

Steve Ammerman with the New York Farm Bureau says that this will include produce, dairy, and meat.

The U.S. census, that constitutionally mandated once-a-decade count of every resident, is still being conducted this year -- though it’s not going according to plan.

Jim Malatras with the New York State Complete Count Commission said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected what was already a difficult year for the 2020 census. 

He said he doesn’t believe that the federal government had done enough before the pandemic to ensure an accurate count, particularly in states with large immigrant populations and communities of color, like New York. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Thursday evening that four detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have tested positive for COVID-19.

Those identified include a 62-year-old detainee from Pakistan, a 29-year-old from Somalia, a 37-year-old from Honduras and a 31-year-old fromHonduras. No information regarding gender was provided.

ICE officials said that “those who have come in contact with these individuals have been cohorted (grouped together) and are being monitored for symptoms.”

Immigration advocates and local officials celebrated Greyhound's policy change to not allow Border Patrol searches on their buses unless officers have a warrant. 

The change hits home for Stevie Vargas with Citizen Action of New York. Her stepfather is undocumented. She said the change will mean more people will have the freedom to board buses and visit loved ones in other cities without fear of persecution.

The New York Attorney General has announced a new statewide initiative against housing discrimination. 

Attorney General Letitia James launched an online resource to report housing discrimination against people who receive government assistance. That includes housing vouchers, welfare, and those who receive child support.

“Every New Yorker deserves safe and decent housing, regardless of their lawful source of income,” James said in a statement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his first priority in his New York state budget announcement on Tuesday: climate action.

The $33 billion plan includes comprehensive nature conservation, a more significant transition to renewable energy, and a major shift to carbon-free transportation.

“We start with the most aggressive climate change program in the country,” Cuomo said in his address. “Because my friends, the clock is ticking and it's ticking faster and faster."

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