A private facility in Florence, Arizona that houses more than 3,000 defendants awaiting federal court proceedings is grappling with an outbreak of COVID-19 where at least 20 jail staff and detainees have tested positive since the facility’s first confirmed case in late April. Close to two hundred more detainees are in isolation or quarantine due to exposure to the virus, according to Arizona U.S. Marshal David Gonzales.
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At least 70 American Airlines ground crew workers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 27, including four that required hospitalization. The numbers are expected to climb as individuals from the 1,000-member “below the wing” crews continue getting tested.
Three days after ICE officials claimed in court filings that there were no longer any active or suspected COVID-19 cases in an Eloy, Arizona immigration detention facility, four more detainees there tested positive for the virus. The surge in cases at the La Palma Correctional Center contradicts the agency’s court claims, and calls into question the efficacy of ICE’s tactics for limiting the spread of COVID-19 in facilities holding more than 32,000 immigrants across the U.S.
As ICE tries to contain the Coronavirus within its immigrant detention facilities, those inside fear the virus could already be spreading. The federal agency’s practices of grouping together detainees who may have been exposed to the virus, known as “cohorting,” is stirring controversy.
Tensions have skyrocketed at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, as immigrant detainees there have become increasingly vocal about what they perceive as a lack of effective protective measures against COVID-19.
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