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‘COVID-19 outbreaks in ICE detention centers raise concerns over insufficient testing’ (MSN)

a man standing next to a fence: The exercise area at the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center on Dec. 17, 2019, in Pine Prairie, Louisiana.

May 18, 2020, Dr. Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, CHER Faculty, was mentioned in the article ‘COVID-19 outbreaks in ICE detention centers raise concerns over insufficient testing.’

In the last two months cases have been reported in six facilities as well as cases at the Adams County Correctional Center located in Natchez, Miss., near the Louisiana border.

Medical professionals and immigration advocacy groups have sounded alarms since February over the imminent danger of the spread of COVID-19 in confined settings like prisons where social distancing measures are nearly impossible to implement.

As of May 15, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has confirmed 178 cases among federal detainees and 15 cases among ICE employees in Louisiana. The second largest outbreak at any ICE facility in the U.S. is currently at Richwood Correctional Center (64 cases) near Monroe, La. This is the same facility where two guards died after testing positive from COVID-19 last month, according to an investigation by The Associated Press. Meanwhile, advocates expressed concern that the numbers reflect only a fraction of the total number of cases due to limited testing.

“When you have one case, yet you have not engaged in comprehensive testing, it is almost certain that there are many more cases that have not yet been identified,” said Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, an associate professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, who has been advocating for increased testing at correctional facilities across the U.S. “Unless you know how many people have been tested it’s hard to know the extent of the problem.”

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