migrants wait at border

Migrants and asylum seekers at the San Ysidro crossing port asking U.S. authorities to allow them to start their migration process in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on March 23, 2021. (GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy
Thursday, 01 April 2021

Dozens of unaccompanied migrant girls have tested positive for COVID-19 at a San Diego facility, it was reported.

A total of 37 out of 476 teenage girls tested positive for COVID-19 at the San Diego Convention Center as of late Monday afternoon, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. All were asymptomatic.

Bonnie Preston, an official at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Union-Tribune that 27 of the infected children had tested positive before leaving Texas, where they had been held in Border Patrol station holding cells after crossing into the country from Mexico. 

The girls who tested positive in Texas were then transported to San Diego on a special quarantined flight, and were the first to arrive at the convention center Saturday night. They then were taken to a special area, separated from the rest of the arriving children.

“We’re so blessed at the convention center that it’s so big,” Preston said.

Six girls who initially had tested negatively tested positive upon arrival in San Diego. They were placed in the area for infected children, while girls who had been on a bus with them were put in a third area for those exposed to the virus.

Since Saturday, four girls who had been exposed tested positive. That brought the total of children testing positive since arriving in San Diego to 10.

The Washington Examiner reached out to HHS for more information on the girls and the department’s most up-to-date infection numbers.

Migrants from Mexico and Central America seeking entrance into the U.S. have flooded the southern border in recent weeks to create a growing crisis. Many of them have said they attempted to enter the country because President Joe Biden took office.

Biden and his administration have been criticized for their handling of the crisis. Photos have shown crowded facilities and questions about the quality of conditions have been raised.

Although Biden last week vowed to commit to transparency at the U.S.-Mexico border when his “plan” takes root, journalists reporting on the situation have been met with resistance.

On Saturday, the San Diego Convention Center became a temporary space for the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement after the administration pushed to move children out of Border Patrol custody more quickly. 

Many children have remained in Border Patrol custody beyond the 72-hour limit due to a backlog in transferring them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Data from Health and Human Services showed that since those additional facilities opened, the 30-day average for the number of children released from Border Patrol custody had increased.

Staff from a San Diego-area children’s hospital were at the convention center in case any children required treatment. Children at the facility are tested every three days, with those who had been exposed to the virus are tested more frequently.

Preston said the majority of staff working with the girls had been vaccinated, and girls who tested positive are wearing double masks.

Although the convention center didn’t receive any new arrivals Sunday, an additional 250 were expected to arrive Monday evening, according to Preston.

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