U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week completed voluntary COVID-19 testing for all residents living within the general population at the three family residential centers (FRCs) housing parents and their children; all tested negative for the coronavirus. As part of ICE’s commitment to expand testing, in addition to testing residents within the general population last week, ICE also began offering COVID-19 tests to new admissions at the FRCs at the beginning of June.
“As we planned where to expand ICE’s testing capabilities, the family residential centers were identified as a priority because of the unique population we house at these facilities,” said Henry Lucero, executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). “We take the responsibility to care for the families in our custody very seriously and we are working with all of our partners to determine how to reduce the spread of COVID-19, not only at our FRCs, but at all locations housing ICE detainees.”
Last week, medical staff tested all 278 residents, including both the general population and newly admitted families medically isolated, at the three facilities including: 13 residents at the Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania; 154 residents at the South Texas Family Residential Center, in Dilley, Texas; and 111 residents at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes County, Texas.
While all those living within the general population at all three facilities tested negative, results for approximately 40 residents medically isolated at intake remain pending at the Karnes County Residential Center. Since testing at intake began at the Karnes facility, 14 individuals have tested positive, including 11 testing positive on June 24 and three testing positive on July 1. As routine protocol for newly admitted families, the residents who tested positive remain medically isolated and have not comingled with others at the facility.
The population of each facility today is: Berks (13), STFRC/Dilley (161), and Karnes (174).
ICE plans to continue expanding testing capabilities to other facilities across its detention network over the next few months.
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.