An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson reported Friday that the Farmville Detention Center has 16 confirmed or suspected cases of mumps. However, surrounding residents didn’t know about the cases. Those who did, don’t seem to be too worried about it.
Laura O’Conner lives in Farmville, and she says this news does not come as a surprise to her.
“I think it’s one of those things where anytime you have a large group of people that are in a facility of some kind and they’re not isolated as far as in their own rooms, a lot of times it’s a dorm situation, you’re going to have a situation where somebody’s sick with something and it’s going to spread around,” she said.
O’Connor says her children, and most of the children in her area, are vaccinated. She’s also not worried about those who aren’t vaccinated.
“People who are contagious with it are currently inside a facility. I’m certain that the staff who are being introduced to this virus are also having safe guards in place to protect them from it,” said O’Connor. “So I’m not really all that concerned about it.”
Some critics of the current immigration policies and agencies said overcrowding issues have been reported at facilities across the country.
“They’re putting people in cots on the floor. They’re turning gyms into bunk areas they are turning libraries into bunk areas,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg. “It’s not surprising that first of all outbreaks become more common and then second of all when an outbreak comes it can rip through a facility like wildfire.”
The amount of people in the facility is something the Legal Director at the Legal Aid Justice Center says is an issue.
Any detainee who has been exposed to mumps has been separated from the general population of the facility, and they will continue to be separated for 25 days.
“At this time, the ICE Health Service Corps and the Farmville Detention Center medical staff are working closely with the Virginia Department of Health to prevent the spread of infection,” ICE spokesperson Carissa Cutrell says.
The facility is also not taking any new detainees due to the outbreak.
Lawyers are allowed to visit detainees if a court hearing is approaching. Even so, Simon Y. Sandoval-Moshenberg, who is the Legal Director of the Immigrant Advocacy Program from the Legal Aid Justice Center, says the disease hinders their work.
“Lawyers are able to visit only through glass and that’s really inadequate to fully prepare someone for a court hearing,” he said.
At this time the identity and ages of those infected has not been released.