For many detainees in US immigration facilities, the coronavirus was impossible to avoid. They were sleeping 3 feet apart with 36 people in a room. They often lacked soap or hand sanitizer, according to a new Physicians for Humans Rights report.
Unsurprisingly, facilities have become COVID hotspots, say the PHR and Harvard medical student researchers. They interviewed 50 immigrants released from 22 ICE detention facilities across 12 states, finding:
- 21/50 experienced COVID-19 symptoms while detained.
- Many waited 100+ hours to see a provider after reporting symptoms.
- Of 18 who reported symptoms, only 3 were isolated and tested.
Those who managed to get tested were subjected to frightening medical isolation, including the use of “the hole”—leading some to stop reporting symptoms.
In a STAT commentary, the Harvard students call for ICE to release the detainees and until that is done, to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all detained migrants.