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ICE confirms two COVID-positive cases in Caroline County's immigrant detention center

ICE confirms two COVID-positive cases in Caroline County's immigrant detention center

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Caroline Detention Center

Local officials made a five-year agreement with Homeland Security to reopen the facility.

Two people detained at an immigrant detention center in Caroline County — 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 people were transferred 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% of people detained there tested positive and one man died from COVID-19,” Ayala said.

On Sept. 8, ICE asked a federal judge to lift the ban on transfers into Farmville Detention Center that was placed after 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.

smoreno@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6103

Twitter: @sabrinaamorenoo

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