COVID-19 protocols for migrants increase

Migrants, asylum seekers have lower positivity rate than in the U.S., according to the Kino Border Initiative
Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 8:41 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 8:19 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The question being asked about asylum seekers in the United States is whether they come into the country carrying COVID-19 and as a result, spread the disease in Pima County.

The Pima County Health Department said it goes the extra mile to prevent that.

“Every person has to be tested for COVID and if they are found to have COVID, they are isolated and they are quarantined with their family,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “And that’s how we are preventing the spread of COVID.”

But there’s also much work in border communities to make sure they don’t cross infected.

The Kino Border Initiative works with migrants who arrive at the border seeking asylum or entry into the US. Sometimes it sees as many as 900 in a day but generally, it’s about 400.

“Just in the past month, two or three we’ve seen much-improved access to vaccination, much-improved access to testing,” said Joanna Williams, the Initiative’s Director. “So it is becoming more available to migrants whether that’s in their community or once they get to the border.”

Williams said on days they offer vaccines, “the line is way out the door.”

She says people in Nogales, Sonora, are eager to get vaccinated.

They recently were given rapid tests which have shown surprising results.

“We have a low positivity rate on those tests,” Williams said. “It’s somewhere in the 2-3 percent positivity rate which is lower than the positivity rate in the U.S.”

For the small percentage arriving in Pima County fully vaccinated, they are offered the option of getting a vaccine. But the test is not optional.

“So as a county, we’re taking on that responsibility to both test and vaccinate anyone before they enter into our community or are released to their sponsors across the country,” said Kat Davis from the Pima County Health Department.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry released a memo that outlines strategies and concludes “there should be little if any concern over asylum seekers causing community outbreaks of COVID 19.’’

The memo can be read HERE.

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