County health officials said Thursday that the influenza outbreak at a local migrant shelter continues to worsen with 22 new cases of flu or flu-like symptoms.
The total number of confirmed cases of flu and “influenza-like illness” since May 19 among asylum-seeking migrants now stands at 81.
Officials with the county’s Health and Human Services Agency confirmed 12 new cases on consecutive days this week at a shelter in Bankers Hill operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
In addition, the county has quarantined 63 asylum seekers at various local hotels to try to contain the outbreak. Two asylum seekers at the shelter have been transported to the hospital due to their symptoms, according to the county. Health officials have conducted health screens of roughly 450 asylum-seeking migrants at the shelter since May 19.
The county defines an outbreak as one person contracting an illness and a second person contracting it and showing symptoms within 72 hours. The county declared the outbreak 0n May 23.
The asylum seekers began arriving earlier this month from Texas, where federal immigration authorities are overwhelmed by an crush of immigrants, many of them women and children, at the border in the Rio Grande Valley. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, roughly 8,000 people are being held at the agency’s facility in McAllen, Tex., two times the maximum capacity.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and CBP announced on May 17 that they would begin flying detainees to the county in groups of roughly 130 to reduce the strain in Texas. DHS officials suggested they could begin sending groups to Detroit, Miami and Buffalo, New York, as well.
The asylum seekers are being flown to San Diego International Airport, then transported to local processing stations like Brown Field. The detainees are generally released into the county while they await a hearing for their claim. Many of them end up at the Bankers Hill shelter, which provides aid and services.
Cases of flu and chicken pox have afflicted immigrant detention facilities for months. CBP agents temporarily closed processing functions at the McAllen facility last week amid a flu outbreak, during which it quarantined more than 30 detainees, according to the Washington Post.
The flu has caused multiple deaths among detainees at the border. Officials confirmed the flu-related death of a teen-aged Guatemalan boy in McAllen last week. He was the fifth child to die in custody since December.
– City News Service
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