Two people detained at Caroline County’s immigrant detention center—located 45 minutes north of Richmond—tested positive for coronavirus last week, according to officials.
The ICE facility hasn’t had a positive test since July 30 and is currently operating at half of its 336-bed capacity.
Both detainees are under medical isolation and being monitored by medical staff, said ICE spokesperson, Kaitlyn Pote. Neither was transferred from another ICE facility, a common practice that’s garnered criticism from advocates following the COVID-19 outbreak at Farmville spurred after 74 transfers from Florida and Arizona.
Pote said the “health, welfare and safety” of ICE detainees is “one of the agency’s highest priorities.”
In a statement, Josh Ayala—whose partner was detained in August during a traffic stop and taken to Caroline Detention Facility—called ICE’s actions “inhumane” and “terrifying.” In a collect call from the center, Ayala’s partner Luis Valladares said one man who tested positive has had contact with multiple people within the facility.
“ICE must immediately release all people detained in Caroline County. Otherwise they face an extremely high risk of repeating what occurred in Farmville last month when up to 97 percent of people detained there tested positive and one man died from COVID-19,” said Ayala. “
On Sept. 8, ICE asked a federal judge to lift the ban on transfers into Farmville Detention Center that was placed following a lawsuit against the federal agency and facility. If lifted, ICE stated that prior to coming to Farmville’s ICE facility, newly detained people would isolate for at least 14 days at Caroline Detention Facility.
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