August 1, 2020

Susan Beaty, Centro Legal de la Raza – 510-679-3674
Amber Tovar, UFW Foundation – 213-316-8706

Advocates fear mass outbreak of COVID19 in Mesa Verde as multiple pods locked down, detainee hospitalized 

BAKERSFIELD, CA – Advocates coordinating with detainees in the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility have learned that multiple pods within the facility have been locked down due to potential COVID19 outbreaks. Based on preliminary information pod B and pod C have been placed under quarantine due to COVID19 exposure. Centro Legal can confirm that one of its clients from pod C has been hospitalized due to COVID19 exposure. 

This outbreak comes after months of advocacy by detained individuals highlighting the horrific conditions in the facility and potential for COVID19 outbreaks. 

According to individuals inside the facility, the exposure to COVID19 is the direct result of recent transfers from individuals who were previously in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) custody, including individuals who had previously tested positive for COVID19. The continued policy facilitating transfers from CDCR into ICE custody is in direct contradiction to CDC guidance, yet continues during this pandemic despite a months long campaign targeting Governor Newsom to end the voluntary practice. 

Based on preliminary information obtained by advocates, individuals transferred into the facility were not provided the minimal screening process that is required by ICE’s own standards, and in some instances were not even provided new PPE upon entering the facility. This unacceptable negligence is a direct breach of the mandatory requirements in GEO’s own contract, yet the for-profit company continues to facilitate the spread of COVID19 with impunity. 

Currently detainees inside the facility have suspended a recent hunger strike, in order to avoid retaliation and the deprivation of access to personal hygiene supplies and PPE. Detainees in Pod B were forced to demand COVID19 tests from GEO before they were provided oral swabs. It is once again evident that there is no plan in place in this facility other than the facilitation of death for those detained.