Coronavirus testing still lacks availability for detainees at Port Isabel Detention Center

2 years 11 months 2 weeks ago Monday, June 15 2020 Jun 15, 2020 June 15, 2020 8:36 PM June 15, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

In a span of about two weeks, the number of detainees who tested positive for the coronavirus at Port Isabel Detention Center ballooned. From three cases at the start of the month to 33 active cases, and 36 overall since they began testing.

David Trejo is going on four months in custody. Over the last month, he’s seen his dormitory empty out.

“First one person got sick and they quarantined us for 15 days. Then two more got sick and they added 14 days. Then, five more got sick last week and it's been a whole month now under quarantine,” Trejo explained.

Trejo says nine people from his dormitory were positive for the virus. Those who remain feel sick. Many have no sense of smell or taste, but he says it’s not enough to have some symptoms.

“If you have over a temperature of 100 degrees, they’ll take you to the infirmary. If not, they don’t take you,” said Trejo.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s COVID-19 policies, they are working off Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. The agency shared a statement on its website:

“In some cases, medical staff at ICE detention facilities are collecting specimens from ICE detainees for processing at a commercial or public health lab. In other cases, including when a detainee requires a higher level of care, they are sent to a local hospital and may be tested at the discretion of the treating provider at the hospital.”

It says samples from detainees can be tested at a commercial or public health lab. Some cases will prompt the agency to send detainees to a local hospital.

Trejo would prefer to be released, but for now, he’s also concerned about his court hearings, which have been pushed back three times already because of the quarantine.

There’s a more pressing issue — cleanliness.

“Touching the phones — we don't have a way to disinfect them. Somebody uses it, then another, then another. That's where the virus is — where they grab the phone and bring the receiver up to their mouths,” said Trejo.

Trejo says mattresses of sick detainees aren’t cleaned and hand sanitizer is restricted. They have enough masks and gloves, but at this point, that’s not going to help them.

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