‘Cruel and needless’: U.S. records 1st detained immigrant death from coronavirus

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A 57-year-old person in immigration custody died Wednesday from complications related to the coronavirus, authorities said, marking the first reported death from the virus among about 30,000 people in immigration custody.

The detainee had been held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and hospitalized since late April, said Craig Sturak, a spokesman for the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would neither confirm nor deny the death. CoreCivic Inc., the private company that operates the detention center, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Otay Mesa has been a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19, with nearly one of five detainees who have tested positive nationwide. As of Wednesday, 132 of ICE’s 705 positive cases were at the San Diego facility. Additionally, 10 of 39 ICE detention employees who have tested positive are at Otay Mesa.

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Two guards at an immigration detention center in Monroe, Louisiana, died late last month from the coronavirus — Carl Lenard, 62, and Stanton Johnson, 51. Until Wednesday, no detainees had been reported dead.

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