ICA Farmville COVID victim identified

Published 3:30 pm Monday, August 10, 2020

New details have emerged regarding an Immigration Centers of America (ICA) Farmville detainee who died from COVID-19 Wednesday, Aug. 5.

News of the death was confirmed Friday, Aug. 7, by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Public Affairs Specialist Kate Pote.

According to a press release issued Friday, the detainee, 72-year-old Canadian national James Thomas Hill, died Wednesday night at Lynchburg General Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment for several weeks. Hill was pronounced dead at 11:42 p.m.

The release stated, after reporting shortness of breath to facility staff at ICA Farmville Monday, July 10, Hill was admitted to Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville before being transferred to Lynchburg General the following day.

A coronavirus test was administered by staff at Lynchburg General and came back positive.

Hill, according to the release, entered ICE custody Wednesday, April 15, following his release from the Rivers Federal Correctional Institute in Winton, North Carolina, after serving more than 13 years of a 26-year prison sentence.

Hill was convicted in March of 2007 for health care fraud and distributing a controlled substance. An immigration judge ordered his removal May 12.

As an aggravated felon, the release stated, Hill was subject to mandatory detention by ICE under federal law. At the time of his death, he was in ICE custody pending removal to Canada.

The release said the preliminary cause of Hill’s death is undetermined at this time, and ICE is undertaking a comprehensive, agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases.

Hill’s passing is the first coronavirus-related death associated with the ICA Farmville facility after the detention center became the source of the largest COVID-19 outbreak of any ICE facility in the country.

Friday morning, ICA Farmville was listed on ICE.gov’s website as having 225 COVID-positive detainees currently under isolation or monitoring, with 290 total confirmed cases in its inmate population. The passing of the detainee was not listed in ICA Farmville’s number of detainee deaths Friday morning.

By 3 p.m. Friday, ICE.gov updated its numbers to reflect 259 ICA Farmville cases under isolation or monitoring, with 339 total confirmed cases. ICA Farmville’s death figure was also updated Friday afternoon to reflect Hill’s passing.

ICE officials have warned there may be a delay in data appearing on the ICE.gov COVID-19 webpage, as numbers must be validated before being reported online.

Virginia senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner recently asked the Trump administration to send a team of epidemiologists to the center to monitor the large outbreak. Thursday, Warner’s press secretary Nelly Decker said there has been no official response to the request from the administration.