As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) proactive efforts to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities, ICE began offering voluntary testing June 9 to all current detainees and new admissions at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility in Aurora, Colorado. The expanded testing identified four positive COVID-19 cases – two from within the current detained population and two from new admissions identified at intake. The initial testing period took place from June 9 to June 18.
Of the 481 detainees housed at the facility during this time, 427 tested negative for COVID-19, four tested positive, 49 declined to be tested, and one test was inconclusive and is being readministered.
The four individuals who tested positive include: one detainee who was appropriately quarantined and has since been transferred to U.S. Marshals Service custody, one detainee who was already isolated from the general population because he had been admitted to the facility less than 14 days ago, and two others who tested positive at intake and still remain isolated from the facility’s general population. Current agency guidance encourages facilities to isolate new admissions into the detention network for 14 days before introducing them to the general population.
“The health and welfare of individuals in ICE custody continues to be a top priority for ICE,” said John Fabbricatore, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Denver. “ICE has taken numerous steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but offering this voluntary testing shows how the agency is using all resources available to ensure the safety of our detained population.”
Health providers discussed the COVID-19 test results with detainees and continue to offer voluntary testing to detainees who initially declined to be tested. ICE will continue offering tests to all new admissions to the facility.
Prior to implementation of expanded testing, facilities must ensure that staff have the proper personal protective equipment to ensure safety during testing and that operational plans are in place to properly house detainees based on test results.
ICE uses molecular testing methodologies recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to detect SARS-CoV-2 and technology that has been approved by and granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including a combination of the Abbott ID NOW instruments for Rapid RNA testing, as well as existing laboratory testing capabilities from commercial laboratories.