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Judge grants weekly rapid COVID-19 testing for Mesa Verde detainees

A federal judge has granted weekly rapid COVID-19 testing, no new intakes and a dorm for COVID-19 positive detainees at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center following a coronavirus outbreak at the Bakersfield facility, according to a news release from a California civil rights activist group.

The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area said at least eight detainees have been infected with the virus as well as 14 Mesa Verde staff members. The committee said two detainees have been hospitalized.

In a story in Thursday's Californian, the federal government said in court filings that two dorms at Mesa Verde had been exposed to the virus, with around 60 individuals housed in those dorms being isolated from the rest of the detention center as a precaution.

Both ICE and Geo Group Inc., the private prison company that operates Mesa Verde for the federal government, referred The Californian to their organizations’ websites in lieu of commenting on the outbreak. The two entities cited pending litigation as the reason they couldn't comment further.

A cohort of legal groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California and the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, have filed a class action lawsuit against ICE and GEO on behalf of those held at Mesa Verde and the Yuba County Jail, pushing for greater disease control measures to be undertaken at those facilities.