Concerns mount over outbreak at central Virginia immigrant detention center

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 1:09 PM EDT
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FARMVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) — Virginia’s governor and two U.S. senators have urged President Trump to respond to the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreak that has occurred inside an immigrant detention center.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said of the 312 detainees, 290 tested positive for COVID-19 and 262 undocumented immigrants are being monitored or isolated at the Farmville Detention Center.

Central Health, which owns a hospital in Farmville told WDBJ7 “We have been caring for these patients as needed for a few weeks now.”

Kaine told WDBJ7 in an interview on Thursday, 26 staff members at the facility tested positive for the virus as well. He says that poses a risk to public health. “You have that many employees that are getting diagnosed with coronavirus and they’re going home to their families everyday and they’re going out in the community and they’re shopping and they’re doing other things, you pose a sizeable risk of spread in the Farmville area,” Kaine explained.

Gov. Ralph Northam, as well as U.S. senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, are urging Trump to send in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a response to WDBJ7, ICE officials said “Since the emergence of COVID-19, I-C-A Farmville Detention Center has ramped up its efforts to protect and care for detainees.” Officials said the majority of those who tested positive were asymptomatic and received “appropriate medical care.”

You can read their full statement below.

Statement from ICE spokesperson:

The health, welfare and safety of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees is one of the agency’s highest priorities. During COVID-19, ICE has taken important steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in its detention centers the agency, including the use of expanded voluntary COVID-19 testing for detainees in the agency’s custody.

Since the emergence of COVID-19, ICA Farmville Detention Center in Farmville, Virginia, has ramped up its efforts to protect and care for detainees in its custody by providing face masks, procuring additional handwashing stations and most recently, administering comprehensive testing of all detainees.

ICA Farmville offered testing to all detainees from July 1 to 3 to ascertain the scope of COVID-19 cases at the facility. The majority of those who tested positive are asymptomatic, but are being closely monitored and receiving appropriate medical care. Currently, one detainee is hospitalized and three detainees exhibiting symptoms are being monitored by the medical staff at ICA Farmville.

Medical checks are done twice daily, including a temperature screening and medication disbursement. Every detainee who needs medical attention is being seen. Farmville staff have worked diligently to keep detainees informed of the developing situation as it evolves through education and updates from medical staff on coronavirus symptoms and how their care and custody will be managed.

ICE continues to incorporate the Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidance, which is built upon the already established infectious disease monitoring and management protocols currently in use by the agency. More information about the agency’s response to COVID-19 can be found online at