CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — There’s a new coronavirus outbreak at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Caroline County.
In a statement Tuesday, ICE Spokesperson Kaitlyn Pote said on November 29, medical staff at the Caroline Detention Facility (CDF) noticed that the number of asymptomatic detainees testing positive for COVID-19 was increasing. Because of this, ICE expanded COVID-19 testing in the facility ad conducted saturation testing from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10.
According to ICE, 21 people detained at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. There are currently 177 detainees housed at CDF.
“ICE remains committed to providing accurate and timely information all while keeping in compliance with CDC guidelines,” ICE’s statement read.
In September, the facility reported its first cases of coronavirus. At the time, the detention center said two people being held there received a positive test result. Then in October, cases grew but the outbreak was controlled and the online dashboard later showed zero active cases.
COVID-19 infections at ICE facilities has been a focal point for Virginia legislators and advocates.
An immigration detention center in Farmville, Va., had one the most massive coronavirus outbreaks in the county. Over 90 percent of the people detained at ICA Farmville tested positive for coronavirus back in July.
“The Caroline administration needs to work with VDH to swiftly enact protocols to take care of those inside. ICE has mechanisms to release those inside, but it’s at the local level where they can ensure proper healthcare,” Director of Organizing for Legal Aid Justice Center, Luis Oyola told 8News in a statement.
Oyola said the LAJC is tracking the outbreak and was been in communication with clients on the inside.
Virginia’s ICE detention centers are now subject to inspections by the state. In October, a bill requiring that immigrant detention facilities meet Virginia’s health and safety standards was signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.
Before this new law, the Code of Virginia did not specify that the state had the authority to carry out health and sanitary inspections at facilities in a Virginia town or county operating under a contract with the federal government.
The new law will allow the state to carry out yearly and emergency health inspections, and wrongful death investigations at ICA-Farmville and Caroline County Detention Center. This was a direct response to COVID-19 outbreaks at both Virginia ICE detention facilities.
“The Inspect ICE bill from the last special session, set to go into effect next year, was enacted knowing that outbreaks will continue to happen and it’s time for the state government to step up” Oyola said.
ICE did provide 8News with a statement on vaccinating people held at ICA Farmville and Caroline County Detention Centers.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working in collaboration with its federal and contract facilities to ensure that all detainees are counted and receive the COVID-19 vaccine. ICE will follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and other relevant federal government guidance regarding vaccine prioritization to ensure detainees receive their vaccinations as quickly as possible,” ICE said.
Click here for ICE’s regulations and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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