Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Tuesday that a 31-year-old Mexican national is the agency's first detainee to test positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The detainee was being held at the Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, New Jersey. ICE said the person is receiving medical care and in quarantine, and "those who have come in contact with the individual have been cohorted and are being monitored for symptoms." The agency is also "suspending intake" at the Bergen County Jail.
ICE did not release any additional details on the detainee, including when they were taken into custody. Last week, the Bergen County Sheriff's Office announced that a corrections officer working at the jail tested positive for COVID-19, and staff "determined that no ICE detainees were exposed" to the virus.
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Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, immigration advocates have been warning that the virus could spread quickly in detention facilities, due to crowded conditions. The Nation obtained an internal Department of Homeland Security coronavirus report dated March 19 that says at the time, nine detainees were being isolated and 24 were being monitored at more than 10 separate ICE facilities. An ICE spokesperson told The Nation "detainees can be quarantined as a result of any variety of communicable diseases."
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