AURORA | Voluntary testing for COVID-19 at the immigration detention center in north Aurora confirmed four new cases, according to immigration officials.
The testing took place from June 9 through June 18, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Alethea Smock. Of the 481 detainees tested, 49 detainees declined to be tested, four tested positive, 427 tested negative and one tested inconclusive.
According to ICE, there have been a total of 16 cases at the Aurora facility, which is privately owned and operated by GEO Group Inc. Ten detainees are still being isolated.
The state officially declared an outbreak at the facility in early June.
Two of the detainees who tested positive during the voluntary testing were tested during intake and are still isolated from the facility’s general population, according to ICE. Another was quarantined and transferred to U.S. Marshals Service custody and the other was already isolated because they had been admitted to the facility within the last two weeks.
“The health and welfare of individuals in ICE custody continues to be a top priority for ICE,” ICE field office director John Fabbricatore said in a statement. “ICE has taken numerous steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but offering this voluntary testing shows how the agency is using all resources available to ensure the safety of our detained population.”
While the agency has asserted they’re actively preventing the spread of the virus, not everybody is convinced.
Critics of the agency’s handling of COVID-19 include Aurora Congressman Jason Crow, who last month sent a letter to ICE calling for a halt on transfers to prevent spreading the virus. In the eight weeks following the first cases of the virus in Colorado, the ICE transferred nearly 800 detainees into the Aurora facility, according to a report from the Colorado Independent.
ICE said its transfers are safe. In a reply letter, agency officials said transfers are still happening for a number of reasons, but “is not moving any detainee during an observation period or any detainee who has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Local advocates have also been protesting at the facility at 3130 Oakland St., holding candle-lit vigils and even vowing to camp out at the site until all detainees are freed.