First Migrant Children In US Custody Test Positive For Coronavirus

HHS/Handout via REUTERS.

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Several unaccompanied alien children have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, making them the first minors in the agency’s custody to carry the disease.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that manages the care of alien minors who enter the U.S. without any adult family members, announced on Thursday that three unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in New York have tested positive for COVID-19.

“As of March 26, 2020, there have been three confirmed COVID-19 disease cases among UAC in one ORR care provider facility in New York,” read an ORR statement provided to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“At this time, ORR is suspending releases from New York care provider facilities. ORR’s medical team is working with the programs in New York and local health department to collect information and determine next steps,” the statement continued.

Migrant children make their way inside a building at Casa Presidente, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville

Migrant children make their way inside a building at Casa Presidente, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., June 23, 2018. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

As a precautionary measure, ORR will cease all placements of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in New York, California, and Washington state — three states hit remarkably hard by coronavirus. ORR added that it is “prioritizing local placements for all new referrals from DHS to limit air travel when possible.”

A total of 18 unaccompanied children in ORR care have been tested for the coronavirus, with 11 testing negative, three testing positive, and the other four are still awaiting results. There are roughly 3,500 UAC currently in ORR care, according to the agency. (RELATED: ICE Confirms First Detainee To Test Positive For Coronavirus)

The positive cases come as several ORR staffers and others who operate around UAC have also contracted the virus.

“Five staff members and one staff contractor at three separate care provider facilities in New York recently tested positive for COVID-19. One staff member at a facility in Texas, and one foster parent in Washington State have also tested positive,” the agency said, adding that it’s contacting anyone who may have been exposed at these facilities.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 81,500 people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who have contacted the virus, at lest 1,180 have died.

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