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Review planned of ICE’s COVID-19 efforts

The federal government has responded to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s request to implement additional screening and testing for COVID-19 in two federally run detention centers in the state, including the Farmville Detention Center.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said Wednesday, May 20, that he and his colleagues have asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help protect those in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities from COVID-19.

Tim Kaine

“This week, I was pleased that DHS responded to our letter, saying that they are planning a review of ICE’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its facilities,” Kaine said. “They expect to issue a final report on their review this summer. My office will continue to be in close contact with the ICE facilities in Farmville and Bowling Green to help ensure they have the resources they need throughout this pandemic.”

As of Wednesday, the ICE.gov website stated there are two detainees who are confirmed to have the novel coronavirus in the Farmville facility. An ICE official said May 13 that the inmates who tested positive never entered the facility’s general population.

It was in a May 14 letter to Virginia’s congressional delegation that Northam wrote that testing everyone in the facilities, including detainees, staff and contractors, will help protect the health of those living in the facilities, as well as the surrounding communities.

Ralph S. Northam

“These are congregate settings where the virus, once introduced, could spread rapidly,” he wrote, referencing the ICE facilities. “In Virginia, my administration has been supporting point prevalence surveys (testing for all residents and staff) in our state correctional facilities, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings.

“Increased testing will help to slow the spread by identifying those in the facility that need to be isolated and treated, and prevent it from getting out into the communities where the facility is located,” he continued. “The Virginia Department of Health would be happy to support these facilities with a point prevalence survey.”