Fifty-five children at the Long Beach Convention Center have tested positive.
At the Long Beach Convention Center home to 728 migrant children, 55 of them tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, Zhan Caplan, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told ABC News. The center has a capacity of 1,000 children.
Meanwhile, at the Pomona Fairplex site, which began housing migrant children on Saturday and currently hosts 216 children, 14 have tested positive for COVID and are being housed separately, local ABC station KABC reported. The site has the capacity to accommodate around 2,500 children.
Caplan said the Long Beach site performs surveillance tests on children every three days and those who test positive are moved to an isolation tent. UCLA Health, the centre’s medical provider, cares for infected children.
He noted that “almost all” the children who test positive are asymptomatic, “except for one who has very mild symptoms.”
Caplan said COVID-19 at the center “is a very well-managed medical situation with comprehensive mitigation plans in place.”
Bonnie Preston, regional director of HHS, told KABC that most of the COVID-19 cases have involved children who arrived at the center with the virus, tested positive when leaving border patrol custody. These children were taken to reception centers in separate vehicles, she said.
“We have a team of infectious disease experts from the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) onsite working with program officials to implement CDC COVID-19 protocols as the site prepares and as the census grows, âPreston said.
Unaccompanied children will be detained until they can be reunited with their families or placed with sponsors.
There have been other reports of COVID-19 among migrant children. In early April, more than 100 cases were reported to the San Diego Convention Center, which was used to house unaccompanied minors and had reached its capacity of 1,450 children. Caplan told the Long Beach Post that the facility currently has 30 positive cases.
As of Thursday, 23,003 children were in the care of CBP and HHS care, according to HHS data. About 400 asylum officers from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have been assigned as case managers to expedite the delivery of children to sponsors, according to the Associated Press.
The United States has grappled with an increase in the number of migrants arriving at its southern border in recent months.
Nearly 19,000 children traveling alone were arrested at the Mexican border in March, surpassing previous records set during periods of high child migration in 2014 and 2019.
To manage cases of COVID-19 among migrants and overcrowded customs and border patrol facilities, HHS worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase shelter space in existing facilities and by modifying measures COVID-19 mitigation to free up space that was previously left empty for social distancing.