Madi Bolanos


Madi Bolanos is the immigration and underserved communities reporter at Valley Public Radio. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border. Originally from Fresno, she is happy to be back reporting on important issues in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Central Valley Meat Co.


Rural Kings County has seen a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks. The majority of those cases can be traced back to the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford.

As of Wednesday, Kings County reported 211 cases of the coronavirus; 138 of them are connected to the meat packing facility, which is still operating.  County Supervisor Doug Verboon says he’s not surprised by the spike.   

It got into the facility, said Verboon. “Someone got the virus and took it into the workplace and it spread pretty fast there.”

Advocates, lawyers and people detained inside a Bakersfield ICE Detention Center have been pushing for the release of detainees who are considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus. On Wednesday, a judge made a ruling in favor of those efforts.

The judge's ruling will allow people detained in Mesa Verde and Yuba County Jail to apply for release based on the threat of contracting COVID-19. Attorney Jordan Wells said the judge's decision to put all detainees in a class is a step in the right direction. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: How do we navigate our complicated emotions in the middle of this global health crisis? We talk with Fresno-based author Armen Bacon about how our collective feelings look a lot like grief. 

We also hear from a high school student in foster care about the struggles of social distancing, from not seeing her siblings to missing out on classroom interaction. 

Later, the Kern County Public Health Department reacts to a call to reopen the economy after two Bakersfield doctors drew national attention. 

Rolando Castro

Mendota currently has 8 confirmed cases of the coronavirus but Mayor Rolando Castro says he thinks the number is higher.

Rural farm towns like Mendota are home to large populations of undocumented people. Many of those undocumented residents think getting tested will lead to other problems, Castro says. 

“They’re worried because of their legal status, that they’re undocumented, so they don’t want to get tested because they think that they’re going to be held by ICE or held by somebody and be deported,” said Castro.  



The McFarland City Council on Thursday voted in favor of a plan by the GEO group to expand the company's for-profit detention centers in the small farming town. Despite calls to postpone the meeting, one council member says the decision was rushed due to the town's financial situation. 

Councilmember Rafeal Melendez said, like many others, he wanted to know why the city rushed to a meeting that would impact much of the community.

Roxana Espinoza Trigueros



Last June, Roxana Espinoza Trigueros and her wife Carolina Espinoza Trigueros applied for asylum in the United States after living in Mexico for three years. The women said they were discriminated against for being a couple.   

Once they were notified that their application was being considered, they went to an office in San Isidro near the border. There, they spent 11 nights in a room they said was referred to as the “llelerar” or the freezer.

On this week’s Valley Edition: COVID-19 is disproportionately hurting vulnerable communities like seniors, agricultural workers and the homeless population. We talk to those working to protect the most defenseless among us. 

Plus, we hear from a woman who was born just after another deadly pandemic, the 1918 Spanish Flu. She remembers her parents talking about it, and the Great Depression that followed. 

We’ll also hear the story of a couple applying for asylum during the coronavirus outbreak. Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

(KBAK/KBFX photo)

The McFarland City Council will meet Thursday night April 23 to discuss an appeals case that would place a for-profit detention center in the small farming town. But community advocates are calling on the council to postpone the remote meeting.

The detention center would be run by a company called the GEO group. At the last city council meeting which was done remotely, a new council member, Eric Rodriquez, was appointed. Rodriguez is a former GEO employee. 

Last week, over 200 people inside a Bakersfield Detention Center participated in a hunger strike, according to advocates. Now ICE is threatening to suspend detainee privileges and it’s had a chilling effect on some of the strikers. 

Pablo Ramirez has been detained in Mesa Verde for six months. He joined the strike last week to help show a united front against the conditions inside the detention center. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Maria Hinojosa, host of NPR’s Latino USA, talks about her upcoming memoir, and what it’s like to launch and run a non-profit media group. 

Plus, we hear from Fresno State history professor Ethan Kytle who’s been tracking coverage of a different pandemic: the 1918 Spanish Flu. How did Fresno respond back then? The answer might surprise you.  

We also hear from California’s Lt. Governor as she updates us on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an executive order this week that will provide $125 million in disaster relief for undocumented workers in California. While advocates are excited to see this development, they say the amount will only cover a fraction of those in need.

The order will give a one-time payment of up to $500 to individuals and a thousand dollars to families. That means only 150,000 out of 1.5 million undocumented workers will receive some relief, according to the California Immigrant Policy Center.

California Committee for Immigrant Liberation



Over one hundred people detained at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield are on an indefinite hunger strike, according to Susan Beaty, a fellow with Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland. Those detained are demanding access to masks, soap and other protective items.  


The strike started at a women’s dorm on Thursday night, Beaty said. The next day, a men’s dorm and the other women’s dorm, joined the strike.


A federal Judge has ordered the release of four more people considered high risk candidates for COVID-19 at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility. The four people are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against ICE that demands the release of 12 high-risk candidates detained at the Mesa Verde ICE Detention Center and the Yuba County Jail.

Gonzalo Ramirez

Lola Daddino lives on a 5-acre farm in Clovis with her family. They sell chicken eggs and poultry meat and hens. She says she first saw an increase in chicken sales after the state went into a shelter-in-place. Now she’s selling up to 250 chickens a day.  “I’d say 50 percent of what we’re seeing are customers who already raised poultry or chicken and are comfortable with it and the other 50 percent are newbies,” Daddino said. 

While many small businesses struggle to stay afloat, local chicken farms like Daddino’s are seeing a high spike in sales due to COVID-19.


On this week’s Valley Edition: Today marks the 90th birthday of labor organizer and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. We talk to her about her legacy of activism, and why our collective response to the coronavirus pandemic should be a united one.

Plus, we hear from journalist and author Mark Arax, who invites us to revisit the work of William Saroyan. 

We also learn why a Shark Tank entrepreneur who runs a pet product company in Chicago is now supplying medical masks to hospitals in the Valley.


An alternative care site to relieve area hospitals is now set up in the Fresno Convention Center. The site will initially be used for non-COVID-19 related cases but that could change, said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vorha.

In a large room typically used for celebratory banquets, there are now 250 foldable hospital beds lined up in rows with empty chairs next to them.

The site is prepared to take care of COVID-19 patients, but will first house patients with non-escalating medical conditions. 

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood announced on Tuesday a dozen cases of COVID-19 among staff and inmates in the county jail. That’s why the county is now releasing some inmates without bail. 


Sheriff Youngblood announced on Facebook the judicial council is requiring the release of some inmates with low level misdemeanors and felonies, with no bail.  


On this week’s Valley Edition: Lawyers are pushing to get their at-risk clients out of detention centers before they get sick with COVID-19. We hear about one woman’s unexpected journey.  

We also talk to educators about the challenges of distance education especially among the Valley’s most vulnerable students. And we hear from a few students about how school from home is going for them.

Later, we talk to an emergency room doctor about what it’s like to be on the frontlines. 


On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom placed an executive order restricting water shutoffs retroactively from March 4th. That’s good news, community advocates say, but it doesn’t help those whose water was already shut off. 

Jonathan Nelson is the Policy Director for the Community Water Center. He says Newsom’s   order will help people who are worried about paying future bills. But what about those whose water has been shut off for over a month?

As state and local officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, lawyers across California are joining forces to get their at-risk clients out of ICE detention centers, including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield.