More than 300 unaccompanied migrant children at US detention shelters near the southern border have tested positive for Covid-19, officials say. They are among nearly 2,900 lone minors who have lived with the virus at shelters over the past year.
As of Wednesday, there were 319 unaccompanied children with coronavirus in medical isolation, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official told Axios. Based on government data, the media outlet reports that there are more than 11,500 minors currently in HHS shelters.
Since March 24, 2020, 2,897 lone children have had positive lab-confirmed Covid-19 tests, and 2,578 have recovered and been taken out of the medical isolation area, according to the department. A total of 38,932 tests were administered within that time frame.
Only 3% of unaccompanied minors now in shelters are in isolation for positive tests upon arriving in the US, according to HHS. Over the past year, about 7.4% of tests for the children came out positive.
‘The positivity rate in general is what was anticipated, and planning has resulted in robust response,’ HHS spokesperson Mark Weber told Axios.
However, the coronavirus positivity rate was higher – around 10% – at the facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, which is used as an overflow center and opened last month.
HHS operates has more than 200 facilities across 22 states. All migrant children are tested once in custody and those who have positive results are isolated and cared for 24/7, Weber said. At the Carrizo Springs shelter, 180 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel as well as two health experts and a dozen epidemiologists are on hand.
The youth coronavirus figures come days after photographs of lone migrant children cramped in plastic tents at border facilities were released by Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, and later by the Biden administration. The images showed the minors lying on sleeping pads and using foil blankets in tents reportedly filled at almost double their intended capacity.
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