Since late January, around 108 migrants tested positive for coronavirus released by the US Border Patrol into Texas. An official from Brownsville told Fox News of the situation on Wednesday.
Migrants Tested Positive
Brownsville spokesperson Felipe Romero said that 108 migrants tested positive upon arrival at the city. This figures to 6.3% of the total migrants processed and rapid-tested at the city bus station, where Border Patrol releases them. Incidentally, the city initiated rapid testing of migrants last January 25.
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However, Brownsville does not have authority over the migrants. According to Romero, the city cannot prevent migrants who tested positive from leaving the city. Specifically, the city can only advise migrants to quarantine themselves. Also, immigrants receive advice to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and practice social distancing. A Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson said in an email that CBP personnel conduct initial inspections for symptoms or risk factors associated with Covid-19. They consult with onsite medical personnel, the CDC, or local health systems as deemed appropriate. In addition, suspected Covid-19 cases “are referred to local health systems for appropriate testing, diagnosis, and treatment,” according to CBP.
White House Aware of Situation
According to Fox News, White House sources said that the administration remains aware of the border situation. Administration officials know of instances where migrants continue traveling despite testing positive and being told to quarantine. However, federal guidance requires them to isolate.
State and local governments working with NGOs handle coronavirus testing near the border. Brownsville officials also said they advise migrants who tested positive to seek help with NGOs and nonprofits. These groups can help provide them with shelter and places for quarantines. Incidentally, the COVID-19 rate of Cameron county, where Brownsville resides, is around 14%.
Travel Around the US
In interviews made by investigative agency Noticias Telemundo Investiga, migrant families who tested positive said that they plan to travel eastward such as Maryland and New Jersey. For example, a 29-year old Honduran migrant recounted her travel. “On the way, we were wearing a mask all the time, gel, washing our hands,” Eva Orellana told Noticias Telemundo Investiga. Also, Orellana brought her 3-year-old daughter with her. She said she bought bus tickets and is taking a bus to North Carolinas. “Really, I don’t feel anything,” she said.
Another Honduran migrant, 35-year old Miriam Izaguirre, said she will travel by bus to Houston. “Right now we were tested for Covid and they separated about eight of us because we were positive. We are waiting right now,” she said.
No Documents on COVID-19 Tests
Migrants also revealed that while officials told them about their COVID-19 results, nobody gave hard copies. Noticias Telemundo Investiga reported that migrants only received instructions to stand in a different waiting area.
Meanwhile, Martín Fernandez, an Omnibus Express bus company operator, said they follow federal guidelines for passengers. Passengers must wear masks on board the vehicle. They should also use hand sanitizer gel throughout the trip. However, Fernandez admitted that they cannot ask passengers of coronavirus test results before allowing passengers to board.
Watch the Al-Jazeera video report that the US is experiencing a surge in border crossings:
What do you think should be done regarding the coronavirus situation in border towns across the US? How do we ensure that COVID-19 remains in check throughout US border areas? Let us know what you think. Leave your comments below.