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Coronavirus – Detention
September 18, 2020
Updated Immigration and Customs Enforcement COVID-19 Guidelines
ICE regularly provides updated COVID-19 guidelines to all of its detention centers to ensure operators implement the most effective prevention strategies as updated by the CDC and local health departments. Here are some recent updated safety directives from ICE which have been implemented at all MTC detention centers:
- A goal of reducing detainee population to 75% of capacity to facilitate social distancing
- Enhanced safety precautions for detainees and staff working in laundry services
- Additional volunteer work programs have been suspended
- An expansion of possible symptoms of COVID-19 to include chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell
- Bi-weekly spot checks by ICE at detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure compliance with COVID guidelines
- An expanded definition of “high-risk” to include individuals with mental health and other issues. Facilities will identify high-risk detainees during intake and notify ICE for possible release
- All new intakes must be evaluated within five days
- New guidance on the use of face masks including the safe use of cloth masks
What We’re Doing to Keep Employees Safe
In addition to general precautionary measures recommended by the CDC, the agency has also provided specific safety guidelines for detention centers to reduce the risk of the coronavirus to staff and detainees. Click here to view a summary of what we have done to protect people at all of our detention facilities. Staff and detainees are provided with face masks and required to use them at all times to minimize the risk of the virus from spreading.
Our medical professionals use personal protective equipment including masks, gowns, gloves, face shields whenever dealing with individuals who have COVID-19 or who may have COVID-19.
Staff who have flu-like symptoms are staying home as a precaution to ensure they do not pose a health risk to other staff and the men and women we serve. All staff and essential visitors must have their temperatures taken before entering any of our facilities. Those with temperatures of 100.4 or higher or symptoms of COVID-19 are not allowed inside. They will be advised to seek medical attention. They may return after at least ten days have passed since the initial onset of the symptoms and at least three days have passed without a fever (achieved without fever-reducing medication).
If a staff member has a confirmed case of the coronavirus, they may return to work after:
- At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, etc.); and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- Under certain circumstances, a test-based strategy may be used. This requires negative test results from an FDA Emergency Use Authorized molecular assay for COVID-19 from a least two consecutive specimens collected more than 24 hours apart.
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COVID-19 Data for MTC Staff Who Work at Immigration & Customs Enforcement Facilities
MTC’s number-one priority during the COVID-19 Pandemic has been to protect the health and safety of our staff, detainees, and community. We have rigorous protocols in place to minimize the risk of the virus from entering and spreading within our facilities. Staff who display COVID-like symptoms are sent home and asked to be seen by their medical provider. Staff who have COVID-19 will remain home until it is safe for them to return to work as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Each of our detention centers has activated its incident command system to ensure we’re following the evolving COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and local health departments. The following table provides the latest number of MTC employees at our detention centers with active COVID-19 cases and the number who have since recovered and are back at work:
cases among staff
cases among staff
|Bluebonnet Detention Center||0||22|
|El Valle Detention Facility||2||29|
|IAH Detention Center||1||13|
|Imperial Regional Detention Facility||0||18|
|Otero County Processing Center||0||22|
What We’re Doing to Keep Our Clients Safe
The CDC has provided specific safety guidelines for detention centers to reduce the risk of the coronavirus to staff and detainees. Masks are provided to all staff and detainees. Click here to view a summary of what we have done to protect people at all of our detention centers. In addition to these CDC recommendations, we have also implemented other precautionary protocols. Some of these measures include:
- Suspending visitation
- Suspending programs
- Disinfecting all common areas daily
- Taking the temperature of staff and essential visitors before they enter. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher is not allowed inside
What Our Customer is Reporting about COVID-19
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has created web pages which provide statistics on the number of detainees with COVID-19 as well as what they are doing to keep people safe during this pandemic. Click below to learn more.